Pubdate: Fri, 11 Aug 2006
Source: Macleod Gazette, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 The Macleod Gazette
Author: Chris Brown, Macleod Gazette Writer
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


One of the first keys to combatting any problem is to recognize there 
is a problem and Fort Macleod's Foothills Centre has taken a 
proactive approach to the problem of crystal meth.

Program facilitator Pat Mandryk has begun a crystal meth support 
group he hopes will help people across southern Alberta deal with the 
consequences of the drug.

"A lot of communities are developing coalitions and this is something 
more to help address the issue," he said. "It's not a huge problem 
right now, but it's a growing one and it would be easier to deal with 
it now than later when it is a huge problem."

Crystal Meth Anonymous, which started in California a few years ago, 
is modelled after Alcoholics Anonymous.

"It has 12 steps just like AA and people come for the meetings and 
share what's going on with themselves, how they are coping, how 
recovery is going, how they fight any urges they may be having and 
any changes they are making socially and mentally to help them beat 
their addiction," Mandryk explained, saying the meetings provide 
strength, hope and experience. "Who better to understand what an 
addict is going through than an addict?"

Meetings, which are held at 8 p.m. every Saturday night at the 
Foothills Centre, generally consist of readings, identifying problems 
and issues people may be facing and for some determining whether they 
are addicts.

Anonymity is of course paramount to attendance at the meetings, which 
aren't just open to addicts.

"We're hoping concerned family members and friends of addicts will 
come and listen to similar experiences from addicts," Mandryk said. 
"They won't be able to fully understand what their relative or friend 
is going through, but hopefully they would be a little bit more understanding."

Mandryk said a few years ago crystal meth was looked at as a young 
person's drug, but now he sees people in their 40s and 50s who are addicted.

"I think it's the cheap cost of it more than anything," he said, 
adding it could be as much as 10 times cheaper than cocaine.

Another reason is incredible high felt by first-time users.

"That first high is very exhilarating, but after that it becomes more 
and more a physical need by your body for it," Mandryk said.

Mandryk characterized the drug as being physically destructive.

"It damages brain communication, causing problems that can repair 
themselves over time, but that could take up to a year-and-a-half," 
he said. Skin aggravations and lesions, a loss of reality, paranoia 
when using, a loss of the ability to communicate, sweating and 
dilated pupils are some of the side effects that will be felt by 
crystal meth users.

Working at the Care Centre in Claresholm, the issue of crystal meth 
is one that Mandryk has seen first-hand from Nanton to Fort Macleod 
and Lethbridge to the Crowsnest Pass.

"This is a perfect place to have this program and hopefully it will 
be able to reach all those communities," he said. "The main purpose 
of the group is to address the situation now before it gets any bigger."
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