Pubdate: Wed, 19 Oct 2005
Source: Sooke News Mirror (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Sooke News Mirror
Author: Pirjo Raits


Would you put red phosphorous, iodine, lithium from batteries, paint
thinner, Drano or muriatic acid into your body? Would you mix up this
deadly cocktail for a high?

Hot ice, glass, quartz, blade, shards, biker's coffee and stovetop are
just some of the street names for crystal methamphetamine. Like glass,
shards or blades it can be deadly - and like crack cocaine it is
highly addictive. It can be ingested, injected, absorbed, snorted or

The chemicals in crystal meth are addictive, but not nearly as
addictive as the high itself. A high that makes one feel confident,
sexy and smart, undermining one's insecurities and inhibitions. That
is what makes this drug so powerful and irresistible - especially for
the young. Flip the coin and another picture emerges.

Crystal meth is known to cause episodes of violent behaviour,
paranoia, anxiety, confusion and insomnia. Crystal meth users who
inject the drug expose themselves to additional risks, including
contracting HIV hepatitis B and C, and other blood-borne viruses.
Chronic users who inject methamphetamine also risk scarred or
collapsed veins, infections of the heart lining and valves, abscesses,
pneumonia, tuberculosis, and liver or kidney disease. The drug can
cause rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and damage to the
small blood vessels in the brain--which can lead to stroke. Chronic
use of the drug can result in inflammation of the heart lining.
Overdoses can cause hyperthermia (elevated body temperature),
convulsions, and death, no matter how it is taken.

So what makes this drug so appealing, when it has been proven to be so

It is cheap, easily accessible, smokeable, and five times more potent
than the speed of the 1970's. A "point" or one-tenth of a gram cost
between $5 and $10. Crystal meth is twice as pure as speed and is
easily made with over-the-counter ingredients. The chemicals used in
production are highly flammable, combustible, toxic and present
significant safety risks to both people and the environment.

The high only lasts for minutes but the euphoria lasts for hours
leaving the user with feelings of being more confident, sexy, smart,
and sociable. Because it decreases appetite, by increasing dopamine in
the brain, people are using it to lose weight, making young girls
vulnerable to its use.

"It is the Sooke tsunami of a different kind," says Carrie Peter, the
organizer for a crystal meth forum on Saturday, October 22, at the
Sooke Community Hall at 2037 Shields Road. Peter is a Registered
Nutritional Product Advisor and a wellness consultant.

"Users will chase the same high and never get it and they will chase
it into their grave," said Peter.

Crystal meth use has reached epidemic proportions in the United States
and it is heading north, says RCMP Drug Awareness Coordinator Corporal
Garth Cunningham.

"It doesn't just happen in Los Angeles, or Philadelphia, or large
cities. It is happening in Iowa and Saskatoon. It's not just big city
stuff. It's coming, there's no doubt about it."

Recently 13-year-old Mercedes Clarke, a Victoria student, died after
taking a street drug, most likely ecstasy cut with crystal meth. It
was her first and last time.

The province's chief coroner has been quoted as saying, "the number of
deaths in the province is frightening and indicates that crystal meth
drug use is skyrocketing.

Over the past four years, meth-related deaths in BC have increased
tenfold, while the lives of countless other users have been
permanently destroyed.

The Specialized Youth Detox centre in Victoria has seen admissions for
detox from crystal meth increase from 17 to 117 over the past four
years. Seventy percent of all admissions are now for crystal meth
detox, and the average age of admission is 16, according to the SYD
Annual Report 2002, Victoria Youth Empowerment Society.

The crystal meth situation in Sooke, at this time, is not up to
epidemic proportions, but there have been charges of crystal meth possession.

Cunningham said that 10 years ago, the issue was identified in
California and Oregon and there was a concern that it was making its
way in to Washington State.

"They should have listened, now it is a mess and they are in a state
of crisis," said Cunningham.

He said there is a lot of crystal meth around Vancouver Island, but
enforcement does not give a true idea of the situation. One of the
problems with this drug is the danger from the chemicals used in the
making of crystal meth. The ingredients are highly dangerous and
volatile and pose a hazard for first responders, as an act so simple
as turning on a light switch can cause an explosion. Then there are
the social, environmental, safety and health hazards.

Crystal meth is replacing ecstasy as the drug of choice in the rave
and dance scene. It is cheaper and dealers looking for new customers
often give out "free samples."

What is scary, says Cunningham, is the fact that much of what people
believe to be ecstasy is actually crystal meth.

"Don't put anything into your body if you don't know what's in it,"
warns Cunningham.

Recently, Premier Gordon Campbell announced the next step in the fight
against meth - a $7-million dollar investment in targeted programs and

The October 22 forum will feature a panel consisting of: the Youth
Empowerment Society, Vancouver Island Health Authority, RCMP Corp.
Garth Cunningham of the D.A.R.E. programme, Victoria Crystal Meth
Society and the Navigator Project from Sooke.

A short video entitled, "Death by Jib", will be shown and the members
of the panel will answer both anonymous and miked questions from attendees.

Peter said the forum is open to everyone from parents, youth,
healthcare workers, retailers to landlords and property managers.

"The community is at risk because of its ruralness, it adds to the
factor," she said.



Parents can be on the lookout for signs that their youth may be
experimenting with crystal meth.

-Glass pipes, often with a bubble at the end, are commonly used to
smoke meth. Light bulbs are also used for this purpose.

- Addicts sometimes use tin foil to burn meth on for smoking, and use
a hollowed-out pen or straw to suck in the smoke, so blackened foil or
any narrow tubes are considered meth paraphernalia. Crystal meth is

- Razor blades are often used to crush hardened meth for snorting, and
mirrors or other hard flat surfaces are commonly used as a surface.

- Spoons are used to melt meth for injection, so spoons, needles, and
some type of cord or band used to tie off a vein are used for injected
meth use.

- Meth, no matter how it is ingested, usually comes in a small

Other signs to be aware of:

Users often sketch or worry about people following them or filming
them. Users also tech out or are fascinated with the technical aspects
of gadgetry and the details of organizing and cleaning things.

Some people stay up for days on a run, using repetitively until their
brain's neurotransmitters are depleted and they are sleep-deprived.
They may get to the point where they tweak, often seeing things that
aren't there, becoming irritable, paranoid and having abnormal,
semi-purposeful movements.

Weight loss is also a strong indicator as users rarely


Private Eye Episode Focuses on Meth Use

In Crystal Fear, Crystal Clear, seasoned documentary filmmaker Eva
Wunderman turns her camera on her own backyard for a new documentary
debuting on CBC Television's acclaimed series THE PASSIONATE EYE,
Thursday, October 20th at 9 p.m. (repeating on CBC Newsworld, Monday,
October 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT).

Using cinema verite, she follows three middle-class families who have
been touched by the 3rd most abused drug in the world - Crystal Meth.

The film takes viewers inside families where relationships between
parents and children are torn apart by arguments over drugs, a high
school girl moves in with a drug-dealing boyfriend and a young
musician grapples with a powerful and seductive addiction.