A killer is loose in the community, and it could be after your child.
It is called meth, short for methamphetamine. It is readily available, cheap, and it is a poison that can inflict brain damage and death the first time it is used.
Is it a major problem in Chase at the moment?
"No," says RCMP Sgt. Fred Bott, "but it sure as hell is going to be."
Bott says meth use is epidemic in the U.S. and a growing scourge in Canada.
To alert parents to the potentially deadly threat, Chase Secondary School is hosting a special forum next Thursday, Oct. 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Called Help - I'm Losing my Child, the forum features Marcy Williamson, prevention co-ordinator from Phoenix Centre, a drug detox facility in Kamloops.Williamson will present parents with the cold, hard facts about the destructive meth and destroy a myth about country kids being safer when it comes to drug access or use.
"Typically, when we look at where drug use is, it's the rural areas that have the highest usage of crystal meth," she says emphatically.
An amazingly addictive drug, meth is a deadly cocktail comprised of poisons like Drano, Lysol, rat poison, battery acid, and lithium removed from batteries. It is almost always combined with other drugs.
And that is part of the problem, Williamson says, referring to the recent death of a 13-year-old Victoria girl who thought she was buying Ecstasy. The one pill she ingested was laced with meth. It killed her. Her friends said it was the first time she tried "hard" drugs.
For $5 to $10 kids can get enough drugs to keep them high for 18 hours.
In the short term, meth makes users hyper and they go for long stretches without eating or sleeping."
"Some of the biggest users are young women who use it as a diet aid, or young moms because it gives them energy to keep going," says Williamson. "They don't realize how quickly they get addicted."
In the long term, meth use leads to depression and hallucination. Many users think they have bugs on them and develop running sores as the compulsively dig at their skin.
Because it's so toxic, the drug also oozes out of the pores, again forming sores.
"It can look like a bad form of acne," she points out."
Aside from the physical aspects of meth use, Williamson says problems are developing in the area of treatment.
While addicts are in detox, up to two weeks, they spend most of their time sleeping.
"Once they get through the detox period, finding beds is difficult, and not all centres will take people with history of crystal meth because there's been several episodes of violence, aggression and paranoia - about two to three weeks after they have detoxed. It puts everybody at risk," says Williamson.
As well as providing information to parents at the Oct. 6 forum, Williamson will answer questions.
Chase Secondary principal Kathy Bradley says she's hoping the educational forum will act as preventive medicine.
"It's really all you can do at this point," she says. "There's no way to fancy this stuff up, because there doesn't seem to be a way back from it."Bradley says the school has held other such educational events where staff has substantially outnumbered parents."
"This does need to be a partnership," she maintains. "We can give the information, but it has to be supported at home. This is not just a Chase Secondary problem it's a community problem and we need to work together."
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