Members of Crystal Meth Victoria Society made a presentation to Parkland secondary students this week to reinforce that message.
The Meth Info Show educates youth on how to recognize crystal methamphetamine, the effects that it has on the body and the devastation it wreaks on families. An 18-minute video that pulls no punches, Death by Jib, was shown to the students. The video was followed by an open question period with presenters and Crystal Meth Victoria Society cofounders Mark McLaughlin and Marilyn Erickson.
Erickson called meth “a perfect storm of a drug” indicating it’s highly addictive nature and devastating effects.
“Meth needs meth,” McLaughlin, the father of a recovering meth user, kept repeating to the audience of high school students. He told them meth doesn’t need food, or friends, or family, “meth just needs more meth.”
When Erickson asked the students how many of them had tried meth or knew someone who was meth involved, only a half-dozen hands went up.
“That’s good,” said Erickson. “That’s unusual. In the Lower Mainland we usually see 30 to 50 per cent.” She told the students that 75 per cent of street kids have used meth and most street drugs are now laced with meth.
“Eighty-three per cent of all E [ecstasy] has crystal meth in it … 50 per cent of the cocaine out there has crystal meth in it — it’s three or four times more powerful than crack.” Even marijuana is being ‘treated’ with meth in order to make it more addictive Erickson said.
“It’s not a stern, finger-pointing lecture,” McLaughlin said after the students left the theatre. “It gives them information that they’re hungry to receive … we would like to urge other schools to step up as Parkland has [to present the information.]”
“Kids are curious and a certain percentage of kids will try drugs because they’re curious — this is not the drug to experiment with — it’s a noxious poison,” said Erickson, a former crack-cocaine user who knows the dangers of drug use.
During the presentation, and the video Death by Jib, the students learned what crystal meth looks like, what it’s made of and its deadly effects on users.
Crystal meth is a white or off-white powder or crystal that can be snorted, smoked, injected or eaten. When smoked it produces an odourless smoke.
“It’s a very NIMBY thing,” said Erickson. “Not in my family, not in my community, not in my school. In fact it’s an easier drug to hide at first — parents can’t smell it.”
Parents who know what to look for though, can begin to see the effects of chronic meth use.
These include changes in your child’s appearance such as bloodshot eyes, careless dress and hygiene habits; changes in health including weight loss, sleeping and eating habits, restlessness and apathy; changes in school performance; how your child is spending money; changes in friends, suspicious phone calls; changes in how your child relates to you, including mood swings rages, violent behaviour and avoidance.
“It’s definitely an issue, I don’t know if it’s a problem [at Parkland],” said student council member Pat Rundell. “But it needs to be addressed, [students] go downtown and it’s available there — people need to know the consequences.”
The Parkland student council, Interact Club and Global Awareness group all pitched in to support bringing the Meth Info Show to the school.
“There’s not that much documentation or education out there and people are very naive. It’s a shock to most people to find out where it is and how it can be used. Every school has [a drug issue]. It’s a fact you have to accept, it’s an issue wherever you go. Parkland has taken a huge initiative to hire Heather [Fitton, youth and family counsellor] to raise awareness. It’s great to have a counsellor there for the students to talk to about these things,” Rundell said.
“[Fitton] is a really positive contribution to the school,” agreed Spencer Trerice, a member of Interact. “It’s hard to approach parents, and having a third party makes it a lot easier.”
Trerice was impressed with the Meth Info Show as well. “You see what is in it … it opens your eyes up to how you can hurt yourself, hurt your family and the people that care about you,” Trerice said.
The Parkland students also heard from 18-year-old Baylie, a recovering meth addict who is now on her way to earning a degree as a youth worker.
“It’s a good way to connect, I’ve been there and experienced similar situations to the people on the movie,” the Victoria teen said. “I like to say I know [sharing my story] will make a difference, I don’t just think it will, I know it.” Baylie told the students that recovery took her two years, and she still struggles with a sexual assault she suffered while on a meth binge.
“I wish I had something like this when I was younger,” Baylie said of the information presented. “It might have made a difference for me if I had only known what could happen.”
For more information contact Crystal Meth Victoria at www.crystalmethbc.ca.
By Laura Lavin
Peninsula News Review
Dec 08 2006