Mark McLaughlin is a man on a mission. He wants to stop the inroads of crystal meth in communities and he's pounding the pavement in B.C. communities letting people know about the dangers of the drug.
The executive director of Crystal Meth BC, McLaughlin was in Prince Rupert Monday and Tuesday giving presentations to high school students from grades 8 to 10, educators, staff and parents. Part of his presentation included a 12-minute video that follows the lives of crystal meth users.
Like many other films about drugs, the footage is raw and the stories are disturbing.
In the video the users talk directly to the camera.
A young woman describes the entire wall of her nose peeling off, how she never thought she'd try to kill her mother or suffocate her dog.
Another woman, fidgeting the whole time, divulges she was eight years old when she started using meth. She's 29 now. "I've lost all my teeth. I never made it through school. I was on the Picton farm," she says.
A mom cries quietly as she talks about the suicide of her son.
"He lost the joy for the things he liked to do," she says, as pictures of her son, once happy, fit and full of life, flash across the screen.
McLaughlin is from Victoria. His daughter became meth-involved and in 2005, he founded CrystalMeth BC because there weren't any supports for him and other parents out there.
Since 2005, more than 35,000 kids have seen the presentations.
"Kids are very engaged. During the question and answer session a forest of hands go up and we run out of time," McLaughlin said.
The students who attended the shows in Prince Rupert will receive a short anonymous survey card to evaluate the presentations and that information will help McLaughlin and his team with future delivery.
"Some surveys have shown that 24 percent of teens know someone who has used crystal meth, 95 percent have stated they would not try the drug after seeing the presentation and 96 percent have said other kids should see this show," McLaughlin said.
Crystal Meth BC does present the show to students as early as Grade 6 and will soon be rolling out a program geared to grades 4 and 5.
"We're also doing a train the trainer program, where we'll pay an honorarium to people who are willing to deliver programs in their own communities.
"We're looking for volunteers."
After spending a few days in Prince Rupert, McLaughlin said crystal meth doesn't seem to be as prominent here but it is appearing as cut-in to cocaine and ecstasy.
"As meth gets a bad rap it'll move to other drugs. There have been several deaths by meth without a person even knowing about it."
Myles Moreau, a drug counsellor in Prince Rupert for more than 20 years who is now volunteering his time, said he has seen a few people locally who have taken crystal meth but it hasn't made a splash yet, although he knows it' is being used in Terrace. He said he honestly believes people are aware of the damage crystal meth causes but because it's showing up in other drugs it'll get people hooked eventually by coming at them through the back door He fully supports the awareness campaign about crystal meth but warns, crack-cocaine, which is big in Rupert is destroying the community locally.
"I'd love to see a campaign on crack cocaine," Moreau said.
Anyone interested in becoming a trainer for Crystal Meth BC can contact McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.crystalmethbc.ca.