Crystal meth can look “really pretty like ice” or look murky and grey, but either way, it’s still a man-made stimulant that is highly addictive and deadly.
Methamphetamine — also known as ice, crystal, jib, meth, chalk, go fast, or speed — comes in crystal, tablet or powder forms, although the way it looks is no indicator of its purity, Mary Lee Booth, prevention and awareness campaign co-ordinator with the Moose Jaw Crystal Meth Strategy Committee, explained during the May 25 city council meeting.
Booth, joined by other committee members, discussed the group’s activities and its message that residents should “Stop Mething Around.” She also thanked the mayor for proclaiming June 6 to 12 as Crystal Meth Awareness Week in Moose Jaw.
Council later voted unanimously to endorse the committee’s “Spread the Word on Meth” prevention and awareness campaign.
Residents should be worried about crystal meth because there has been a noticeable increase in usage during the past six years, along with a corresponding increase in crime, said Booth. There has been a 2,000-per-cent increase in simple possession charges and a 1,800-per-cent increase in trafficking during the past decade.
The former Five Hills Health Region and current Saskatchewan Health Authority have also seen increases in crystal meth use, as evidenced by the number of people admitted to mental health wards in Moose Jaw and across the province.
“It’s a very powerful drug and causes people to act and think in ways they wouldn’t typically. The effects of crystal meth are so powerful that some people are clinically psychotic when intoxicated,” said Booth. “This makes it difficult for police and health-care workers to de-escalate often tense situations … (which) can turn dangerous for everyone.”
People use crystal meth since it’s cheap — as low as $3 per pop — and produces a powerful euphoria that remains in the body from four to 12 hours. Users can smoke, inject, swallow or snort crystal meth, although injecting and smoking moves it quickly through the bloodstream to the brain.
Regardless of how it is used, it is still dangerous, said Booth. Buying it — or any illicit drug — off the street is risky since it can contain other harmful substances such as fentanyl, battery acid, drain cleaner, paint thinner or anti-freeze fluid.
Some signs that people are using crystal meth include sleep disturbances or insomnia, appearing restless or talkative, experiencing paranoia or hallucinations, having skin sores, and suddenly acting aggressive or violent.
“Meth mouth is something we like to warn about,” said Booth. “Because saliva decreases, bacteria increases (and cavities occur).”
Long-term use of crystal meth leads to drastic weight loss, damage to internal organs, higher risk of heart disease or stroke, damage to nasal passages, psychosis, and memory loss.
Users’ bodies become so tolerant to the drug that they must take more simply to feel normal, said Booth. This can lead to fevers, headaches, chest pain, stumbling, spasms, seizures, panic, altered mood or difficulty breathing, and overdoses.
Anyone who suspects an overdose is occurring should call 911.
The best way to handle this crisis is for residents to say something if they see something, she continued. This includes calling the police at 306-694-7600, calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), using the P3 Tips app, or developing relationships with neighbours and keeping neighbourhoods clean.
“Addiction is the enemy, not the person using it,” Booth added, pointing out unmet mental health needs drive people to drug use. “So we really want to vilify the right thing; it’s the drug that’s the villain.”
Anyone interested in a presentation from the committee can contact Mary Lee Booth at email@example.com or 306-630-2056.