Pubdate: Wed, 05 Oct 2005
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Duncan News Leader
Author: Angie Poss


When Darren Lagan asks students at Valley schools if they would drink a
glass of brake fluid, they always say no.

But after the RCMP officer leaves their classroom, a growing number of those
students will take crystal meth, ingesting that same brake fluid in a
crystalline chemical cocktail that will leave them wired, twitchy and
ultimately brain damaged.

The effects of the easily produced street drug have even seasoned counselors
and police officers shaken.

"What an alcoholic will lose in 20 years of addiction - in terms of their
jobs, their families - a meth addict will lose in six months," said Const.
Lagan, the Duncan/ North Cowichan RCMP detachment's school liaison officer.

Quickly addictive, meth binges leave the user sleep deprived, malnourished
and paranoid. Sensing bugs skittering under their skin, they scratch until
open and infected sores pockmark their bodies.

"It is difficult to quit and most people need professional help to beat the
addiction," said Lagan.

That help could be on its way after twin funding announcements from the
provincial and federal governments.

During his annual address to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities,
Premier Gordon Campbell announced Thursday $7 million in additional funding
and new programs to fight crystal meth abuse.

Calling it "a dirty, filthy drug" Campbell pledged: $2 million for the Union
of British Columbia Municipalities to distribute as $10,000 community
grants; $1 million for school education programs; $2 million for a public
advertising campaign; $2 million for targeted treatment programs like Meth
Kickers in Kamloops; and regional seminars to educate communities.

That funding comes on the heels of a Sept. 23 announcement from federal
Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh pledging $851,000 to train more than 340 First
Nations counselors Canada-wide to curb crystal meth use in their

No meth labs have been found yet in the Valley, with the local supply coming
in mostly from Victoria and Nanaimo, but it's only a matter of time before
someone brews a batch in a house, a warehouse or the trunk of a car, police

"I wouldn't say meth has reached epidemic proportions locally as it has in
major centres," said Lagan, citing major problems in U.S. cities that are
flowing into major Canadian cities and trickling into smaller towns "- but
if you look historically, we are not going to be immune so we need to take
steps to protect ourselves from reaching the same level as the U.S."

Earlier this year crystal meth was added to the same legal class as cocaine
and heroin, allowing stiffer penalties for those who produce and sell it.

The drug is made from a cocktail of chemicals commonly found in hardware
stores and drug stores including: cold medication, brake fluid, driveway
cleaner, red phosphorous from match heads, drain cleaner and pesticides.

"Meth is a poison - bottom line," said Lagan.

With the recently announced money still to be divided up, Lagan is hoping to
educate students at the Valley's middle and secondary schools with a series
of workshops that will give them practical information about the legal,
medical and social consequences of using crystal meth.

Lagan hopes to reach the broader community in a community forum later this

The RCMP are already bringing information to school administrators, teachers
and parent advisory councils.

"Meth is new for most of these adults so we want to educate these people so
they know what to look for."

© Copyright 2005 Duncan News Leader and Pictorial
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh