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Crystal Meth Society He won't mention a name, or if it's a boy or girl, but Mark McLaughlin will tell you that his child is doing better now than before.

McLaughlin will say his child is sleeping at home, holding a job and doing better than other kids addicted to crystal meth who are "dead and buried in the ground at age 13, 14 or 15."

The executive director of the Crystal Meth Society of B.C., McLaughlin was in Vernon recently, delivering his powerful message on the "most addictive drug out there" to high school students and interested members of the public.

"When a child is becoming meth involved, it's not always obvious to see the signs," said McLaughlin following an hour-long presentation to students at Clarence Fulton Secondary School.

"The signs can be subtle in the beginning. Kids staying up all night. They get a whole new set of friends...all the old friends get lost because they're not on the drug. New friends come in, they're the drug buddies. Things start disappearing from the house, things are stolen so they can be pawned to get money to buy drugs.

"Spontaneous, irritable behaviour, violent behaviour can occur. They disappear for several days at a time, that's when they're on a drug run, on a binge. You start to learn the physiological presentation of the cycle of use."

Going through his own hell, McLaughlin and his family met other parents caught up in the same situation.

They slowly learned what they were up against in crystal meth and its devastating effects, and decided they had to see what they could do to change the situation, and formed the Crystal Meth Society of B.C.

"The number of families we saw caught up in meth, the devastation wreaked upon them, the suicides, the divorces, the toll it was demonstratively taking in our communities were all motivators," said McLaughlin of what spurred him on to start the society.

Crystal Meth, or methamphetamine, is a central nervous system stimulant that comes in crystals, powder or pill form.

The drug, also known by slang names Jib and Shard, is smoked, snorted, injected or eaten.

In his presentation, McLaughlin holds nothing back.

In front of him, on a table, are common items found in most households, such as paint thinner, cat litter, drain cleaner or nail polish remover.

All are considered toxic, and all can be used in making crystal meth.

He has a slide presentation that shows a person emaciated after years of meth abuse. There's a close up of "meth mouth," a dentist's nightmare with rotting teeth and gums. McLaughlin shows a video in which addicts share their stories, and how they all wished they'd never started using meth. One girl, a recovering a meth addict, tears up when she talks about the people she helped get hooked on drugs.

The images, however, that draw the most disgust on this day at Fulton, is the tape of an addict injecting into an arm that McLaughlin says "looks like hamburger meat." And a shot of a person who has literally picked away their skin from their forearms.

"As a teacher, kids learn many ways and one of the ways they like the most is visual stuff," said Doug Rogers, drug and alcohol counsellor for School District 22, who called McLaughlin's presentation "wonderful."

"They need to see it. They need to talk, show and listen, and when they see them all, it helps us learn. They get the impact that the drug will have and the negative impact it will have on their lives." Xavier Morris, a Grade 9 student at Fulton, called McLaughlin's presentation "powerful and true."

"It had everything I was looking for, real people talking, and real clips," said Morris.

Since the society was formed in 2005, McLaughlin has been doing his presentation for 30 months, and says the last 10 months have been the most productive, with more than 22,000 students having seen the show.

"I can't put numbers on it ( how many people will be addicted to meth ). Even if they're exposed one time, I can't guarantee they'll be addicted, but I can't guarantee they won't be addicted," he told the students. "Does this sound like a worthwhile deal yet?"

McLaughlin told the students his society is looking for volunteers, leaders and participants to help educate people in the community.

Rogers said crystal meth is an emerging drug and is around in the Okanagan.

For more information, you can visit the society's web site at www.crystalmethbc.ca.

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