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After quiet 2020, crystal meth committee to be more proactive this year

The committee was formed in 2019 after 11 community service organizations, concerned residents and past drug users joined forces
Crystal meth.

The Moose Jaw Crystal Meth Strategy Committee plans to engage the public more often this year after the pandemic prevented the group from holding outreach activities in 2020.

The committee was formed in 2019 after 11 community service organizations — such as the police, health, school divisions, Wakamow Detox and Transition House — joined forces with residents and past drug users. 

The partners were concerned because they saw how awful the drug was in the community, explained awareness co-ordinator Mary Lee Booth. The hospital’s emergency department was seeing an increase in patients with crystal meth-type intoxication, while the police were also encountering more meth users. 

The committee held a pop-up coffee event in April 2019 to provide facts about methamphetamines and how big the crisis was in Moose Jaw. 

The response was overwhelming. 

“We were so surprised that 80 people attended … we weren’t really prepared for that,” Booth laughed. “The room at Riverview Collegiate was bursting at the seams.”

It was from that gathering that the committee took flight. It met several times that year, while it met once in 2020 before the pandemic halted its activities. However, the group acquired grant funding to hire Booth for one year to push forward its goals.

Since COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, the committee plans to hold several online sessions this year, with a focus on reaching parents. The group wants to make parents more aware of meth and give them the tools to talk to their children about it.

If pandemic restrictions allow, the committee wants to hold another pop-up event to hear from current or past meth users

“Many people who do use it, it just captures your life,” Booth added. “So, we just really want to prevent people from using it in the first place.” 

While the pandemic has temporarily set back the committee, partners still want to “strike while the iron is hot” to reach residents, said Booth. She noted that this phrase is used in addiction treatment because the resources for recovery need to be available quickly for people who are ready for help. 

Crystal meth was the drug of choice in Moose Jaw two to three years ago, and while it is still around, most drug use has been trending toward opioids, she added. Opioids have been a problem in British Columbia and Alberta for years now and have been flowing into Saskatchewan and Manitoba. 

There are several pillars upon which the committee focuses, such as enforcement, treatment, awareness and harm reduction. When it gives presentations this year, the committee will speak about what it sees in the community, how citizens can respond and what tools are available for support. 

“Harm reduction is really key in any discussion around crystal meth because there is a lot of misconceptions about what harm reduction is … ,” Booth said. “But really, harm reduction is around making sure that we meet people where they’re at, and they remain safe or use safe practices when considering their recovery journey.”

Booth recently spoke with a man who uses crystal meth and who told her that people use it because it is inexpensive. The man indicated that he spent $900 on cocaine in one day, whereas crystal meth can be purchased for $3 to $5 per hit. 

To ensure the committee’s message is sustainable into the future, the committee has contacted Shaw TV about putting together a video or series of videos about this topic.

Montana created an information campaign 10 years ago that also pushed back against crystal meth, Booth said. The campaign used 20-second commercials that were “absolutely profound” since they showed how harmful meth is and how addictive it can be.

Booth plans to spread the committee’s message through local media every month. 

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