City of Chilliwack Forum
Angela Marshall, BA, MEd, ICADC, CCC
October 11, 2005
How big is the methamphetamine problem?
• It is estimated by the World Health Organization that 35 million people
worldwide regularly use methamphetamine or its derivatives.
• There are two basic profiles of meth users reported by law enforcement and
• students, both high school and college age
• blue collar workers and unemployed persons in their 20s and 30s.
• About three years ago methamphetamine emerged as a problem drug in Western
• In 2004 Fraser House and Rotary Club of Mission co-facilitated a Crystal Meth
Community Forum. The Crystal Meth forum sparked the formation of the Mission
Community Crystal Meth Task Force.
• According to the Koch Crime Institute, the most common user of meth is high
school and college students, secondary school and college age. Between the ages
of 14-23 years of age. (see pie chart below)
What is Methamphetamine and How Does It
• Methamphetamine falls under the family of drugs known as stimulants.
• Stimulants provide a quick temporary increase of energy.
• Methamphetamine falls under a sub-category of stimulants called
• Methamphetamine works by increasing the release of these neurotransmitters
in the brain and then blocking their metabolism.
Elevates blood pressure
Increases rate of breathing
Raises blood sugar
Decreases activity of the intestines
Transmits nerve impulses
The hormone adrenaline
Activates “fight or flight” response
Effects emotional states
• Amphetamines also cause alertness so that the individual becomes aroused,
hypersensitive and feels “turned on”.
How is methamphetamine made?
• The key ingredients in methamphetamine are pseudo-ephedrine
and hydroiodic acid.
• Pseudo-ephedrine is a white odorless alkaloid that is often used as a bronchial
dilator. Pseudo-ephedrine is a common ingredient in over the counter cold
medication, these medicines are processed to remove buffers and isolate pure
pseudo-ephedrine. Pseudo-ephedrine is also a central nervous system stimulant,
and was marketed in Canada until recently as a weight loss aid.
• Hydroiodic acid is a strictly controlled substance, but can be easily manufactured
by combining red phosphorous and iodine crystals, chemicals that are not
• Psudo-ephedrine and hydroiodic acid are commonly cooked with bleach, drain
cleaner, window cleaner, battery acid, paint thinner, antifreeze, acetone, red
phosphorus, lye and rock salts to produce methamphetamine.
• The manufacturing of methamphetamine is simple because it does not require
specialized equipment or advanced training. Methamphetamine can be easily
cooked by anyone in a clandestine laboratory.
• Methamphetamine labs are commonly found in rural areas because strong
chemical orders are produced.
• Mobile labs are also becoming more common hidden in mobile homes, motel
rooms or warehouses.
• No matter the size of the lab or who runs it, processing methamphetamine is
dangerous. Ignitable, corrosive, reactive, and toxic chemicals can cause
explosions, fires, toxic fumes, and damage to health and environment.
What Does methamphetamine look like?
• Methamphetamine can come in various forms depending on how it is cooked and
the chemicals it is cut with. Meth can be yellow, white, or clear and come in the
form of chunks that look like ice, powder or crystals.
How do you do methamphetamine?
• Snort methamphetamine using cut up straws, and razor blades or plastic cards to
cut up lines on a small mirror or compact disc case.
• Smoke using a gak pipe (glass test tube with a bubble end) heated by a lighter
inhaling the smoke. Aluminum foil can also be used, methamphetamine is put on
top and heated underneath with a lighter, and the user inhales the smoke.
• Inject using a spoon and lighter to liquefy methamphetamine and pull into a
syringe and mainline into a vein.
Common Street names for
• Crystal Meth
• Go Fast
What is the High of Methamphetamine Like?
• Millions are drawn to crystal meth because of its promise of endless energy, no
need to eat or sleep, super focus, productivity and euphoria.
• Crystal meth does not discriminate; it preys on white collar professionals,
students, the working class, the skid row bum and everybody in between.
• Imagine a euphoric flood, a complete body orgasm, infinite energy, the most
boring of tasks becomes a riveting experience, even house-cleaning.
How Do People Get Addicted To
• Many people do not know there is a down side to meth until they stop using and
• The problem reveals itself with the crash following a run with meth. The day after
the user feels sick, depressed, guilty, ashamed and angry.
• The meth user is aware that a small amount of meth will eliminate these
unpleasant symptoms and produce good feelings. Eventually the user depends on
meth to become a solution to the problem it has created, and the cycle of meth
addiction is born.
• The trouble is that after awhile the high of meth becomes disappointing, euphoria
turns to numbness, super focus is replaced by confusion, and productivity is
limited to simple tasks.
• A meth addict’s time is spent ‘teching’, an obsession with repeating tasks like
drawing, writing, applying and reapplying makeup or even ruthlessly picking at
their own flesh.
• Meth addicts become delusional and paranoid from lack of sleep combined with
the hallucinogenic properties of the drug, this condition is known as ‘sketching’.
• Meth addicts can also become prone to hostility and rage, this condition is known
What are the Effects of Methamphetamine?
• Excited, Restless, Excessive Fidgeting
• Pressed Speech ( unending stream of consciousness type of conversation)
• Disorganized Patterns of Thought and Behavior
• Irrational Anger, Irritable, Tense, Aggressive
• Hypermania (excessive energy coupled with out of character behavior)
• Distrust of Others
• Violence, Anti-Social Behavior, Criminal Involvement
• Stereotypy (an obsession with repeating the same simple task)
• Flailing Odd Movements (excessive nerve activity)
• Increased Alertness and Energy
• Increased Confidence, Perceived Intelligence and Superiority
• A Sense of Well Being
• Agitation due to Over-stimulation
• Panic, Fearfulness, Anxiety, Apprehension
• Poor Concentration, Loss of Motivation
• Self Consciousness
• Paranoia, Hallucinations
• Depression, Ahedonia (state of apathy), Suicidal Thoughts or Attempts
• Confusion, Memory Problems
• Speed Bugs (the feeling of bugs crawling beneath the skin, leads to skin picking)
• Psychotic Episodes, Toxic Psychosis (methamphetamine induced schizophrenic
• Increased Heart Rate, Respiration and Blood Pressure
• Dilated Pupils
• Increased Sex Drive (eventual decrease in sex drive)
• Rise in Blood Sugar, Loss of Appetite
• Increased Urine Output, Diarrhea, Dehydration
• Teeth Grinding, Locked Jaw
• Shakiness, Dizziness, Fainting
• Fever (hyprexia body temperature 106 or above), Sweating, Flushed Skin
• Tingling in the Extremities
• Headaches, Blurred Vision, Eye Aneurysm
• Itchy Skin, Sores on Skin
• Abdominal Discomfort (mimics appendicitis), non-healing ulcers
• Sore Throat or Raspy Voice from Smoking, Lung Problems
• Nasal Damage from Snorting,
• Vascular Damage from Injection, Vasculitis (inflammation of the arterial system)
• Muscle Tremors, Convulsions
• Chest Pain, Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), Heart Attack, Stroke, Hypertension
• Kidney Damage and Liver Disease
• Brain Aneurysm, Brain Damage
What Would I Notice If a Person was Using
1. Have you found very small Ziploc bags in their belongings that have no smell
and possible crystal white or yellow residue?
2. Have you found broken light bulbs with the metal thread missing that appear
burnt on the inside?
3. Have you found small squares of tinfoil with a burnt residue? (this could also
indicate hashish use or heroin use)
4. Have you found small mirrors or compact disc cases accompanied with wallet
cards, razor blades and or cut short drinking straws? (paraphernalia associated
with making lines to snort meth or cocaine)
5. Do their pupils appear dilated when they are in a well lit room?
6. Do they talk about jib, speed, zip, crank, meth, ice, glass, gak or go fast?
7. Do they appear excessively hyper for a time followed by excessive sleeping,
eating, and a depressed and/or irritable mood?
8. Do they sniff excessively, rub their nose or have frequent nose bleeds?
9. Have you noticed a marked increase in their productivity accompanied by a
disproportionate lack of results?
10. Are they more talkative then usual or behave as if driven by a motor?
11. Do they have unexplained sores on their face or skin that appears to be
12. Are they acting unusually paranoid and distrustful of people in general?
13. Are they unreasonably angry or hostile over insignificant or imagined events?
14. Do they sweat excessively accompanied by flushed skin?
15. Do they have unexplained dizzy spells or fainting episodes?
16. Do they spend excessive time repeating one task like applying makeup,
styling hair, bathing, doodling, writing, etc.?
17. Do they have irregular sleeping patterns like staying awake for days followed
by excessive sleeping?
18. Have you noticed a decrease in appetite and/or unexplained weight loss?
19. Do they grind their teeth or appear to be clenching their jaw (while awake)?
20. Do they fidget an unusual amount for example tapping fingers or smoothing
21. Are they unable or unwilling to perform everyday tasks such as working,
attending school or meeting deadlines?
22. Do they lack joy in life and seem to not care about things they used to
If you answered yes to numbers 13, 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22 the client is displaying
symptoms commonly associated with methamphetamine abuse. However it is important
to consider that these symptoms could also be attributed to mental health issues, medical
conditions or other drugs of abuse. Therefore, these yes answers should not be considered
as strong indicators of methamphetamine abuse on there own, unless accompanied by yes
answers to additional questions.
If you answered yes to numbers 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 17 the client is displaying some of the
behavioral and physiological symptoms commonly associated with methamphetamine
If you answered yes to numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 16, 19 the client is familiar with
methamphetamine paraphernalia and street names and exhibits some of the symptoms
most strongly associated with methamphetamine abuse.
In general the more yes responses the more likely it is that the client is abusing
IF I Think Someone Has A Problem with Meth,
What Should I Do?
• Simple Ways to Help
There are simple things that anybody can do to help a person recover from meth. Such
simple things include practicing patience, being available to talk, focusing on virtues,
letting them know you are on their side, being solution focused, and validating courage
• Becoming a Companion
Most people react favorably when they believe a person wants to support them and is on
their side. However, a person’s reaction is generally unfavorable when they believe a
person wants to control them, even when their intentions are admirable. It is
advantageous to both parties to become a companion as opposed to a well meaning
• Setting Boundaries
The most challenging aspect of supporting a person recover from crystal meth can be
setting consistent and fair boundaries. In order for a meth user to become motivated to get
clean they must first realize it has become a problem. It is important that a person knows
that as their family or friend that you will not enable them to continue to use meth.
• Work as a Team
Helping a client with a meth problem on your own is not only overwhelming, it is
completely unnecessary. There are many professionals in the Chilliwack community who
can help you and fight back against methamphetamine. There is a tremendous value of
using a team approach when helping a person recover from meth.
• Difficult Customers
Despite any professional’s best efforts to help a client using meth, the process can feel
frustrating and pointless. It can be helpful to redefine success, it is a rare occasion that a
person stays clean from meth the first time they try to abstain. Meth is evil, it will do
everything possible to get between you and its chosen victim. Don’t let meth win, fight
back, don’t give up on the person inside.
What Steps Should I Take When A
Asks Me For Help?
1. The most important thing to remember is that meth is controlling them. Meth
is a parasite it has reduced the person to its slave. When a person is addicted to
meth, they are no longer present enough to make healthy decisions, meth is
choosing for them.
2. Arm yourself with as much information as possible about crystal meth. It is
clear that crystal meth abuse is very dangerous and can be deadly. This is not an
issue to be taken lightly, learn as much as you can about the dangers of
3. Let the person know how concerned you are about their meth problem and
that you are willing to help them. Remember that you are dealing with a person
who feels depressed and paranoid most of the time, shaming, blaming and yelling
are unlikely to produce favorable results. However, communicating your concern
is very important and could save their life.
4. Help the person connect with an addictions counselor.
Addictions Counselors can be an ally in your fight to help your client to recover
from meth addiction. Most importantly, Addictions Counselors can provide
support and assess whether the person may benefit from detox and/or a residential
alcohol and drug program. When a person decides to get clean from meth they
will only be motivated to change for a short window of time. Therefore, it is
essential to connect with a counselor in a timely manner.
How to tell if there’s a meth lab in your
Have You Noticed…
• Strong solvent chemical odor (cat urine, alcohol, ether)
• Blacked out windows
• Excessive traffic coming and going at odd hours particularly at night
• Unusually large amounts of trash possibly containing odd items in large quantities
such as antifreeze bottles, cold decongestant, drain cleaner, Coleman fuel
• Laboratory equipment such as glass tubes, beakers, Bunsen burners, funnels,
chemical glassware, plastic tubing
• Large quantities of glass ware such as mason jars
• Heavily guarded premises for example window bars or guard dogs
• Coffee filters with red stains or soaked in alcohol or ether
• Excessive amounts of hot plates, pressure cookers, or electric skillets
• Large quantities of cold medications or weight loss products
• Large number of empty blister packaging used for over the counter medication
• Plastic bottles with the bottoms cut out
• Chemical cans or drums in the yard with blacked out labels
• Large numbers of gas cans
• Tenants who pay their landlords in cash (drug involved people often will only do
business in cash)
• Iodine or chemical stained bathroom and kitchen fixtures
• Pressurized tanks and cylinders
Why Should You Care?
Those living close by a meth lab are in constant danger. Threats include fire,
explosion, and exposure to poisonous gas. As well, meth labs are usually operated
by armed criminals whose decision making is affected by exposure to poisonous
gas, a potentially deadly combination.
Children are often found living in meth labs, forced to breathe in toxic chemicals
suffering irreparable damage to their bodies and brain function.
What Should You Do Now That You Know?
If you suspect a meth lab operation do not attempt to investigate yourself, contact
local authorities and report what you have noticed.
Hanson G & Venturelli P. Drugs & Society. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1998
Health Canada. Straight Facts About Drugs & Drug Abuse. Minister of Public
Works and Government Services Canada, 2000