Pubdate: Sun, 21 Sep 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


The scourge of crystal meth isn't limited to the male half of the 
population, say people seeking to built a recovery centre in Victoria 
for girls and young women.

"It's equal opportunity. It doesn't discriminate," said Mark 
McLaughlin, president and founder of the Crystal Meth Victoria Society.

McLaughlin said his daughter, now at home and recovering, was 
ensnared by crystal methamphetamine. Now he is working to bring a 
recovery centre for girls to Victoria along the lines of the Beacon 
of Hope House, a six-bed drug recovery facility for boys and young 
men operating in Vic West.

A joint venture of the Salvation Army, VIHA and the provincial 
government, it deals with all forms of drug use but has a special 
focus on crystal meth.

Hope House, as it's commonly called, has a yearly budget of $350,000 
and opened last year. So far, about 75 clients aged 13 to 19 have 
gone through its doors.

Rhiannon Porcellato, program director at Hope House, said the 
facility has earned a success rate of 65-70 per cent, with "success" 
defined as six months without a relapse into drug use.

Porcellato also said over 200 telephone calls have been received from 
girls, their parents or doctors looking for similar help.

Crystal meth has been around since the 1960s, when it was called 
"speed." But latter-day home recipes, where illicit chemists cook up 
ingredients such as turpentine, cold remedies, rat poison, camp fuel 
and even cat litter, are turning out a potent, more easily ingested form.

Modern crystal meth can be smoked, snorted, eaten or injected. Five 
dollars can get you high for 24 hours. Many drug dealers are selling 
crystal meth but calling it "ecstasy," mixing it with cocaine, even 
sprinkling it on marijuana.

And the harm it causes to a body is far worse than any other narcotic 
now on the market, Porcellato said.

"Crystal meth is by far the worst," she said. "You cold do cocaine 
for five years and not have the damage you have with crystal meth 
within three months."

Users stay awake for days, even weeks at a time, often not eating. A 
body becomes so depleted that natural resistance collapses, sores 
break out all over the skin. Even the teeth and gums rot away, a 
condition known as "meth mouth."

According to people who treat crystal meth addiction, its lingering 
harm to the brain lasts for years and is perhaps even permanent. 
Crystal meth appears to destroy the brain's ability to produce the 
natural body chemicals necessary to experience happiness.

So anybody coming off crystal methamphetamine is prone to crushing 
depression, Porcellato and McLaughlin said.

Right now, besides the six beds at Hope House, five residential 
recovery beds for young people of both sexes exist in Victoria.

Porcellato said Hope House decided to go with boys initially for two 
reasons -- traditionally the Salvation Army has dealt mostly with 
males, and in counselling circles boys are considered a little less 
complicated than girls.

She said girls' addictions are often tied up with eating disorders, 
pregnancy, boyfriends and an involvement in the sex trade.

Hope House is also a new step for the Salvation Army, stepping 
specifically into the youth field. And the organization is watching 
its progress with interest.

"Victoria is sort of a flagship, or a starting point for us," said 
Brian Venables, spokesman for the Salvation Army.
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