Pubdate: Wed, 21 Nov 2007
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Windsor Star
Author: Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Addiction Gripping All Levels of Society

A mom who pimped out her young daughter. A retired autoworker who lost
everything. A newborn baby who suffered such severe withdrawal
symptoms -- passed on from the mom -- that human contact was agonizing.

Those were the pictures of crack cocaine addiction painted for a
packed house Tuesday during a workshop called Cracked II.

"Once you try the devil's candy, it won't let you go," said Sophia
Martin, one of four sisters addicted to crack at various times.
"People who smoke crack cocaine are possessed by it. When you inhale
it, you inhale the breath of death."

Cracked II brought together former addicts, police officers, city
representatives and outreach workers to discuss Windsor's increasingly
prevalent crack problem and how to stem it.

"Right now, it is the drug of choice in Windsor," said Const. Robin
Moon of the Windsor police drug enforcement unit. "In the four years
I've been in that unit, I can not believe how many people are addicted
to crack."

As an example, she mentioned a retired autoworker, who lived in an
affluent neighbourhood. He met the wrong person, got addicted to crack
and lost his house.

Staff Sgt. Bob Labute said crack addiction is extending its reach to
people not commonly associated with the drug world.

"In the past it was someone you could classify as street people," he
said. "Now we're seeing middle class, upper class people getting
heavily into it."

He said the murder of Const. John Atkinson, killed in May 2006 after
approaching two teenagers carrying crack, was a turning point for
public awareness.

"I think there was a lot more public awareness that yes, this is
happening," said Labute. "From that day forward we did start to
receive a lot more phone calls from members of the community."

Christine Legault, diversity outreach co-ordinator for the AIDS
Committee of Windsor, showed pictures of beaten women covered in
bruises, addicts with rotten teeth and addicts with open flesh wounds
from picking their own skin while hallucinating they were covered in

She also showed the picture of a man from out east who while high on
crack, cut the flesh off his own face to use for fish bait.

She said she's dealt with young boys and girls having sex for drugs,
food or a place to stay.

"Crack cocaine will take anyone, anywhere, anytime," said Legault. "It
loves one and all. This is in your city. It is rampant."

Windsor's Sophia Martin, 44, knows that as well as anyone. She got
addicted to crack, and so did three of her sisters. She said she was
about 21 when someone brought crack to her home. The person said it
would make her feel good. She got hooked. After two years she went to
church and got clean.

But one of her sisters, on crack for 20 years, is still doing it.
She's 50.

"The one that's out there, we just love her and pray for her and we
just hope," said Martin. "We used to read the paper and if there was a
body found, we'd pray to God it wasn't her."

Martin said that for some people, like her sister, the 12-step and
21-day programs in Windsor aren't enough.

"She's trying to get off it, there's no help in Windsor," said Martin.
"We need more resources, more long-term facilities."

Barbara Mann started taking crack after a childhood of feeling
unwanted. Her father wanted a son, and she ended up on the street,
sleeping in dumpsters.

"I took the drug and the drug took me," said Mann, 44, who has lived
in Windsor for 10 years. "You don't care about anything except getting
that next high."

She's clean now after some "divine intervention" -- the birth of her

"Eleven hundred and forty two days," said Mann. "I count every one,
because without one, I have none." 
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