Pubdate: Wed, 31 May 2006
Source: Goldstream Gazette (Victoria, CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Goldstream News Gazette
Author: Rick Stiebel
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)
Bookmark: (Youth)


The most disturbing part of the Crystal Meth Victoria presentation at 
Belmont Secondary wasn't the stomach twisting close-ups of arms 
covered with pus-filled, freshly-picked scabs, even though they were 
enough to make you look away or lose your lunch.

It wasn't the gut-churning interviews with kids strung out on crystal 
talking about how they'd destroyed irreplaceable chunks of their 
lives, or friends they'd lost to suicide.

The most alarming moment was when Crystal Meth Victoria president 
Mark McLaughlin asked how many students knew someone "who is crystal 
meth involved."

After a handful of hands were raised tentatively, within seconds, 
fully a third of the kids in the packed gym had added limbs to the 
sea of waving arms.

If you do the math, even conservatively, that's more than 400 of the 
students at Belmont who have been impacted by the plague of meth 
that's spreading like a scourge in communities just like this one.

The average of students raising hands at schools when he asks that 
question is about 30 to 50 per cent, Mclaughlin said in a follow-up interview.

"Seeing the jaws of teachers, staff and parents drop to the floor is 

Four years ago, when the News Gazette asked West Shore RCMP Cpl. 
Brian Kerr if there was crystal meth on the West Shore, he said he 
hadn't seen any yet, but it was coming.

Well, it's here now, and judging by the numbers, it's everywhere.

Kerr, head of the detachment's street crime unit, says he now sees it 
on a daily basis, and attributes much of the break and enters, car 
thefts and vehicle break-ins to the culture of meth.

McLaughlin told the students at Belmont that the good news is the 
government is finally starting to recognize the severity of the 
problem, as evidenced by the funding provided to enable McLaughlin 
and others like him throughout the province try to get their mantra 
about death by meth out in the open and into the mainstream.

Progress is being made, and six new treatment beds will be added soon 
to Victoria, Mclaughlin said

Currently, there are five stage one youth detox beds available, where 
kids typically sleep five to 10 days before they're kicked out to 
start the cycle again, McLaughlin said.

The six new stage two beds will accommodate stays of 20, 40 or 60 
days and include supported rehabilitation.

"It's 24-7 oversight and structure," Mclaughlin said. "It's a very 
important improvement that graduates of detox will be able to go to stage two."

With all due disrespect, how much help is that in the face of an 
epidemic, and what took so long?

Having sat through several drug forums and parent education sessions 
sponsored by the West Shore RCMP, a couple more by Crystal Meth 
Victoria, and having talked with authorities on the subject from 
Seattle during the last three years, it's time to give our collective 
head a shake.

We're not talking about a drug like heroin or cocaine or even crack 
here, folks.

They've been around for a long time, researched to death and have 
treatment strategies in place.

Meth is much cheaper - a $10 hit can keep you kite-like for 12 hours 
- - and it's more addictive than anything that's come down the pike before it.

Meth is also a brand new phenomenon that hasn't been around long 
enough to research the long-term effects, and it causes significantly 
more damage over a much shorter period of time than the conventional 
flavours of the month that came along before it.

Kids can literally fry their grey matter and short circuit their 
emotions at such an accelerated rate that, for a lot of them, a full 
recovery is nothing more than a pipe dream.
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