Pubdate: Wed, 30 May 2007
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Author: Monte Sonnenberg
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Students Warned About 'Meth Mouth' At Smart Choices Seminar In Simcoe

Teenagers have any number of poor choices they can make.

But few choices are as bad as experimenting with crystal methamphetamine.

Few illegal drugs are as harmful as crystal meth.

Users are quickly addicted. They become paranoid, delusional and 
obsessed with little else but obtaining the drug and smoking it.

Abusers rapidly lose weight. Personal hygiene goes out the window. 
Addicts are covered in scabs because they are constantly picking at 
imaginary insects. Users are anxious, irritable and prone to violence.

Long-term users suffer brain and organ damage. Their teeth also rot 
and crumble. Within the dental profession, the condition is known as 
"meth mouth."

Because crystal meth causes psychosis, police and emergency workers 
dread the possibility of it catching on in our backyard. Const. Mark 
Foster of the Norfolk OPP says the local force comes across crystal 
meth from time to time. But so far it hasn't afflicted Norfolk like 
it has other rural areas across North America.

"We do have it," Foster said yesterday during the Smart Choices open 
house at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Simcoe. "Is it the No. 
1 drug in our area? No. That would be alcohol and marijuana."

Crystal meth is so dangerous that the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit 
was once reluctant to talk about it for fear that teenagers would 
become curious. The health unit solved that problem by starting the 
dialogue with a discussion of the drug's ingredients.

"We ask kids: 'Who here would like to drink Drano?'" said Michelle 
Pasichnyk, a health promoter with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. 
"You can smell it on users. It's coming off their skin. Given the 
chemicals in methamphetamine, it's literally burning you from the inside out."

The raw materials are available at pharmacies and hardware stores. 
These include drain cleaner, nitrogen fertilizers, lithium batteries, 
table salt and ether. When crystal meth became a problem several 
years ago, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from cough syrup were key ingredients.

Many pharmacies have taken these medications off the shelf and make 
them available only to specific individuals on request. However, bulk 
supplies of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are now imported to meth 
labs in the United States and Mexico from developing countries such as China.

Foster said the establishment of meth manufacturing facilities 
determines which areas develop a problem. The product is often made 
on stove tops in "kitchen labs." However, the authorities dread the 
arrival of "clandestine labs" - or "clan labs" - which are large, 
sophisticated operations that produce crystal meth in bulk. When a 
meth lab is located, hazardous material teams are called in to clean it up.

"So far, we've been extremely fortunate," Foster said. "Our emergency 
services teams are trained on that and ready to go. Hopefully, we 
won't get to that point."

Holy Trinity principal John Burroughs was pleased that health and 
emergency personnel took time out to speak frankly to students about 
the hazards around them. Burroughs said today's teens need straight talk.

"It's high time these kids had this because of their risky 
behaviour," he said. "I hope it's well attended."

Also mounting exhibits were Norfolk Fire and Rescue, Norfolk 
paramedics, OPP specialty teams, Norfolk community services, Crime 
Stoppers and Haldimand-Norfolk Women's Services.
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