Pubdate: Fri, 07 Jan 2005
Source: Barrie Advance, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Janis Leering, The Advance
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)
Bookmark: (Youth)


While there may not be many rave parties across Simcoe County, Stephen
Meredith knows so-called 'club drugs' are still found in the area.

Meredith, with the Centre For Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto,
warned county health professionals about the dangers of Ecstasy and
other drugs, during a recent presentation sponsored by Think Clear.

Meredith was in Midland to talk to pharmacists, police, lab
technicians and youth workers about the myths and dangers of club drugs.

"We are hoping to share information with the community and while
Ecstasy was not identified as a particular problem here, it's
something they should know about," he said.

Meredith said Ecstasy is a coloured pill commonly found at club
parties in Toronto, but said levels of drug use don't differ across
the province, which means it is being used in this area too.

"If there's no club scene here, kids are taking the drugs at bush
parties or house parties."

He said teens' perception is that Ecstasy, also called 'E', isn't a
hard drug.

"People think it's risk-free and they just

want to have a good time with it. They do think it's different than
cocaine, and it may be in some senses, but there are still people who
have died after taking the pill."

Meredith said teens taking Ecstasy may also decide to drink, or smoke
marijuana while at a party.

"Poly drug use is a huge issue, it's as if people are becoming
self-pharmacists, deciding how much to take and when they should take

He said Ecstasy, or Methylene DioxyMethAmphetamine (MDMA) was made as
far back as 1912 and was tested by the United States army intelligence
in 1953, to try and disorient enemy troops. But it was discontinued
after a death occurred.

In the 1980s, it made a comeback as Ecstasy, even though it was
restricted in Canada, and Meredith said very little is known about the
long-term effects of the drug.

Ecstasy is a man-made drug that usually contains MDMA, and it can
contain caffeine, codeine, cocaine and other drugs or impurities that
can make harmful combinations.

The small pills, with different logos stamped onto them, are usually
sold for $15 to $20, and it is seen as a social drug that enhances the

"It lessens your inhibitions. It's 60 per cent a stimulant, and 40 per
cent a hallucinogen, and it makes someone feel like they're on cloud
nine," said Det. Const. Rick Dupuis, with the Huronia Combined Forces
Drug Unit.

"The speaker was talking about raves in the city and we don't
experience that here (in Simcoe County) because of our population base.

"But it is in the area. On Nov. 12, in Wasaga Beach, we went into a
'flop' house, where there was E, marijuana and cocaine."

Dupuis said he has seen Ecstasy in Simcoe County only for the past
three years but as a police officer, it has been hard to

"Most of the youth involved are aged 14 to 22 years old, so it's not
like we can blend in with them for an (undercover)

Dupuis said parents play an important role to cracking down on club

"E is just like marijuana, where parental supervision is important.
Parents should know who their children are hanging out with, and where
they are going."

For example, Dupuis said a 13 year old was visiting the Wasaga Beach
home at 11 p.m. and that shouldn't happen.

"Being a good parent is no guarantee, but you should have an idea
where your child is."

Dupuis said E is seen as a designer drug and the use of it all comes
down to peer pressure.

"Everyone is popping a pill, and some kids try it because their
friends are."

Another drug becoming more prevalent in the drug scene is OxyContin,
but Meredith said there isn't a lot of it in Ontario just yet.

"It's a concern because it is an opiate, which is very

OxyContin is a legally-produced prescription drug, which can be quite
harmful. It's similar to morphine, and is meant to be slowly released
into the body.

"Users break it down and inject it, and there are reports of it
becoming more popular in the East Coast."

Meredith said he was surprised the questions after his presentation
were about drug use in general, not so much about club drugs.

"There were questions about OxyContin and embalming fluid, and a
couple of other things, so the impression I got was that club drugs
isn't a huge issue."

The E and other club drugs presentation was sponsored by Think Clear,
a group of Simcoe County partners who want to bring awareness to drug
and alcohol issues to the community.

The 150 guests were given a copy of a new pamphlet on Ecstasy that was
created to educate parents and students about the drug.

"This is the only resource for E for young people," said Velma
Shewfelt, project co-ordinator of Think Clear.

The book was designed by graphic design students at Georgian College,
with basic information about Ecstasy, and it is now available at local
health unit offices across the county.

"We heard there was a need for this from educators, because you can't
always trust what you read on the Internet."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek