Pubdate: Fri, 16 May 2008
Source: Western Star, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2008 The Western Star
Author: Cory Hurley


CORNER BROOK - Field workers of Youth, Child and Family Services
received a lesson on street drugs Thursday to not only help protect
young people, but also themselves.

Const. Robert Edwards of the city's RNC visited with the
representatives of Western Health to deliver a drug awareness
presentation targeted for junior high students. He provided an
overview of the local situation, what to watch for in the field, and
how to avoid the dangers of drugs and its abusers.

Locally, he said there isn't an increase in drug abuse from 10 or 15
years ago, but the wider spectrum of drugs used is a problem. The days
of only marijuana, mushrooms, LSD or acid have changed and snorting of
prescription medication such as Ritalin and Percocet is now a concern.
Before Christmas, three elementary school children in the city were
found snorting Ritalin during homeroom period, he said.

Cocaine, once known as a white-collar crime drug, is now as easy to
get here as marijuana, Edwards said. Even more alarming, he said, is
the shift from soft drugs to harder drugs that net dealers more money
because they are easier and cheaper to make and more addictive.

The officer said ecstasy has become commonplace locally. It is an
addictive derivative of methamphetamine (also known as meth or crystal
meth). While it is worrisome in its own right, Edwards said sightings
of meth, and the potential for it to become a major problem is
alarming. In fact, he said dealers are using drugs like ecstasy as a
way to unknowingly introduce users to meth, saying a person becomes
instantly addicted with slim chances of kicking it.

"Problems we have been finding in our drug seizures, and throughout
drug sections across Canada, that ecstasy tablets that people think
are ecstasy, in proper proportions, sometimes is found to be 100 per
cent meth," he said.

That is a common problem with many street drugs; one doesn't know what
it has been mixed or laced with, he added.

Slowly, but surely, meth is arriving on the local scene, Edwards said.
It is not in the proportions of other major centres in the country,
but enough to cause concern for the RNC.

"That's what we are trying to get out to all the high school students
and the junior highs, if crystal meth comes on stream here, it is so
addictive and will screw up that person so bad that they will not be
able to maintain a relationship with their family or friends," he
said. "The drug will consume them altogether where they will never be
able to get a job, and they have to maintain their habit, so the only
way to do that is crime - break and enters, armed robberies or thefts.

"We have to make people aware that it is here, but if we don't
actually stop it, then it is going to be a trickling effect."

Meth has a direct impact on the brain function, said Edwards, while
the toxic chemicals contained in its ingredients literally rot away at
the body. An addiction has a 10-year life span, he said.

While unaware of any meth labs in the local area, but admitting it is
possible, he said they can be set up just about anywhere by anybody
who knows the combination of readily available ingredients used to
make it. It is easy to make and cheap to sell, he noted.

A lab is a heavily contaminated environment and Edwards showed the
field workers photos of children suffering burns and other effects
without ever entering the lab itself. He also warned of the impacts of
being exposed to contamination themselves, if they were to happen upon
such a scene.

"You have to realize this is the stuff you will be walking into
throughout your career now," he said. "(Meth) is the drug coming on
stream now. You have another 10-20 years to go in your career, you are
going to have more of a chance of running into this than somebody
retiring in three or four years.

"You have to realize, not only the dangers of the people on it, but
the chemicals in the house itself that you may be exposed to.

"The number 1 thing on your mind is the protection of those kids and
you don't even realize you could be contaminated, and it could be
doing permanent damage to yourself." 
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