Crystal Meth Society of B.C. founder Mark McLaughlin and meth survivor Kevin Henry hold common household items used to manufacture methamphetamine. They are speaking Thursday on the perils of using the drug.
There wasn’t one particular moment when Kevin Henry realized methamphetamines had dragged his life to rock bottom.
It wasn’t in the grip of hallucination, when he spoke to a telephone pole for two hours. It wasn’t trying to steal a police car or not eating or sleeping for weeks on end. It wasn’t even overdosing and surviving two heart attacks as a teenager.
“It was just years of people telling me I needed to stop this life,” said the 25-year-old Sooke resident. “I was 15 or 16 when I went into it. I was addicted pretty quick.”
Henry, now five years clean, will present his grim but redemptive story as a Victoria-area meth addict, as part of a Crystal Meth Society of B.C. talk at Isabelle Reader Theater on Thursday.
Henry spent about four years on the streets, living day to day as a petty criminal and meth smoker. Binges would last two weeks or more with little food or water. Doctors couldn’t understand why he was still among the living.
“One time I went (to hospital) for an overdose,” Henry said. “I had snuck in a pipe and drugs in my sock. I overdosed again on the bathroom floor.”
Mark McLaughlin, founder and executive director for the Crystal Meth society, said in many ways Henry is one of the lucky ones. Sweating out the drugs takes weeks and full rehabilitation can take years.
“There is no guarantee that person will ever get their life back,” said McLaughlin, who is the main presenter at Thursday’s forum. “Meth just wants more meth.”
McLaughlin wants to break the conception that meth addiction is rare in Greater Victoria. It’s about understanding the warning signs, he said.
In talks to 50,000 students across the region and province, McLaughlin said the vast majority say they know someone who has tried meth or its chemical cousin, ecstasy. In a recent seminar with health professionals at Victoria General Hospital, he said most doctors underestimated the number of meth-related cases coming through the doors.
“We teach people to put on their ‘meth glasses’ so they can see what is unraveling before their eyes,” McLaughlin said. “People see behaviour and crimes that looks random, violent and spontaneous, almost inexplicable. It has meth written all over it.”
McLaughlin’s no-nonsense talk, called “Be Crystal Clear,” is aimed at educating youth and parents on the signs and typical outcomes of meth addiction. It’s about thoughtful decision making and connecting the dots of behaviour, he said.
“Meth infantilizes the mind,” he said. “Imagine a two-year-old having a tantrum. Now imagine that same tantrum in an 18 to 22 year old male with access to cars, guns and knives.”
McLaughlin launched the crystal meth society in 2006 after his own child, now recovering, became meth- involved. Meth can rip families apart and no child is immune, he said, even with a good home and stable upbringing.
“The more people that refuse to recognize the issue, the more kids are sacrificed,” he said. “How many kids do we have to put in the ground?”
Be Crystal Clear talk is Thursday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m. at Isabelle Reader Theatre, 1026 Goldstream Ave. Free event. For more see www.crystalmethbc.ca or call 250-388-6384.