Pubdate: Fri, 02 Dec 2005
Source: New West News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 New West News Leader
Author: Michael Mcquillan
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


New Westminster needs to immediately establish a crystal meth task
force to deal with the growing drug problem, says Coun. Lorrie Williams.

That idea has the endorsement of a former meth addict who says the
only way to deal with the problem drug is awareness.

Chelsea Trites now works as a support care worker at Westminster House
and says meth is a difficult drug to get off once a person is
addicted. She first did the drug at the age of 16 and it took her
three-and-a-half years to get off the powerful and highly-addictive
stimulant. That's why a community task force is needed to create awareness.

"Awareness is the best prevention because it's so difficult to get
off," said Trites, 23.

"It took me three-and-a-half years of quitting, doing it again and
quitting before I finally got off of it. It's really sad because
there's not a lot of people that get off it. I have some friends that
used to use it and they've been clean for a while but there's very
few. It's a tough drug, it's really sad," said the New Westminster

Williams became aware of the social problems of crystal meth when she
attended a seminar put on by the Maple Ridge meth task force. It was a
real eye opener.

"It's a real scourge on society. You would rather have your kid on
heroin than on crystal meth. One is curable and the other causes brain
damage that is irreversible. This is too serious to ignore," said Williams.

Any task force in New Westminster must include as many community
partners as possible and use a variety of strategies in an "all out
war" on crystal meth, she said. The idea of the task force has come up
in various committees but got side-tracked by the recent civic election.

Unlike other street drugs, crystal meth has perhaps greater social
implications. Meth is a synthetic drug that damages the nervous
system. Its use can cause dependence and addiction, psychosis, stroke,
dangerously high body temperature and cardiac arrhythmia. Withdrawal
often results in severe depression and paranoia.

The affects of meth are long term.

"The worst part about it is the chemical imbalance it has on your
body, then staying up for days and the psychosis that follows," said
Trites. "There's all sorts of crap in it. I think that's why this drug
is so bad because of the mental health issues that surface when people
use the drug.

"People are making it on their own and making all sorts of brews, and
if they don't make it correctly it can be lethal," said Williams. "If
one kid gets brain damage then it's his problem for the rest of his
life and that makes it society's problem.

Williams wants the task force to be established as soon as possible,
hopefully in the next month. "This has to come from council but I'm
certainly going to push it," she said.

"I just feel we desperately need to make people aware of this.
Basically we have to scare the kids.

The provincial government has made $7 million available for
communities to fight crystal meth. Each community can apply for
$10,000 in grants to get task forces and other programs started
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