Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jun 2006
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Mark Brett
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


Crystal methamphetamine is described as the lowest of the highs but 
sadly an increasing number of people are finding that out the hard way.

Called a dirty drug by those who know it well, crystal meth eats away 
at the abuser's brain to the point where no one or nothing else 
matters except the unattainable goal of reaching the initial pinnacle 
of pleasure.

And that's where education comes in, teaching potential addicts the 
facts before it's too late.

"The thing you have to remember with meth is that it's so addictive," 
said drug and alcohol counsellor Danny Highley, one of the 
participants in this week's series of workshops on the drug at 
Okanagan College.

"Users experience a really intense flash and a really intense high. 
It's excitability, pleasure and energy and everything else at the 
same time in the short term but users become addicted to that very 
quickly, sometimes after only trying it once or twice.

"We see people using this drug over and over and over again to try to 
return to that same intense high but they can never really return to 
it because it causes an over depletion of those (natural) chemicals 
that were released to begin with."

As part of the week's programs the public will have an opportunity to 
learn more about crystal meth at an all-encompassing forum Wednesday 
evening at the Cleland Theatre.

Sponsored in part by the Penticton Herald, the City of Penticton, 
Penticton RCMP and Penticton-Okanagan Valley MLA Bill Barisoff in 
cooperation with the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the free session will 
teach people about the drug through presentations by experts, a video 
in which meth abusers themselves tell about the nightmare of 
addiction and a question and answer session.

"Meth actually changes how your body works, such as the sweat glands 
which causes affects that we call crystal bugs where users feel like 
they have bugs crawling on their skin," said Highley. "And because 
amphetamines also can cause a mental fixation, they end up picking at 
their skin, their faces, arms, everywhere on their bodies, it's not pretty.

"There is no proper use for this drug."

The good news is this region of the Valley has not yet fallen to the 
depths of some other communities in terms of crystal meth use.

"From a police perspective we don't have a problem right now and we'd 
like that to continue but the question is how do we do that?" said 
community policing coordinator and program manager Terri Kalaski. "We 
believe the answer is by educating the public about the dangers of 
meth which is what we're hoping to do Wednesday at the forum.

"We're really concerned that that chemical does not gain a foothold 
in our area."

Penticton RCMP Insp. Dan Fudge agreed: "Our number one problem right 
now is crack cocaine but crystal meth is a cheap highly addictive 
drug and we need to get in on the ground floor and this (forum) is a 
unique opportunity to address a common problem.

"Drug enforcement alone will never solve this problem, the key is 
education, it's always, always, always education."

Part of that education will include a workshop this week for the 
certificate-program Prevention Awareness and Community Education (PACE).

"We will be training a number of people in the PACE program to be 
front-line workers, people like addictions workers and wellness 
workers and other staff to go into schools and work with youth 
groups," said PACE coordinator Cherylee Highway, of the Saskatchewan 
Indian Institute of Technologies Saskatoon campus. "The program was 
created in response to the rising problems with crystal meth -- after 
we began experiencing devastating life losses. This something that 
affects everyone."

Highway will also be one of the guest speakers at Wednesday's forum 
which starts at 6:30 p.m.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom