SUNDAYMAGAZINE TRAVELLING ROADSHOW: Your beautiful pictures of B.C. B10-11
Peter Clough B4
Sunday Profile B6
Hidden Treasures B7
Dr. Dave Hepburn B9
Reading B12 $2,700
Sunday crosswords B16
Comics B18-19 camera!
Coffee Break B20
GOOD READS • GOOD FUN • GOOD IDEAS SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2005
PULLOUT SECTION B
High on meth and
beset by ‘demons,’
a naked man twists
on wires after flinging
himself from a window
The menace of
unhurt, he has now
sworn off the deadly
drug: ‘I feel like this is
my last chance.’ B3
After this near-death experience last month, this man has vowed to give up drugs for good. JACK SIMPSON — FOR THE PROVINCE
B2 ❘ UNWIND ❘ THE PROVINCE SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2005
T H E M E N A C E O F C R Y S TA L M E T H
Educating you and your community
‘He was in hell,’ says
mom who lost her boy
Grieving mother tells of doomed PUBLIC
attempt to get treatment for son Kerry Jackson pictured with
her son, Ryan, as a young boy. O N C R Y S TA L
BY MATTHEW RAMSEY had been eating carbon and In conjunction with a
STAFF REPORTER ground-up quartz. His mother
series of articles on crystal
believes he was trying to soak up
meth beginning today and
erry Jackson knows the evil the drugs in his system.
power of crystal meth. The “He was in hell,” she says. “I didn’t continuing all this week,
toxic drug drove her son to see any way out for him.” The Province is hosting four
his death at the age of 26, and now Jackson taped her son’s phone community forums.
she fights to save others from the messages in a desperate attempt to The gatherings will bring
same hell that took her only child. convince authorities he posed a together health-care
To that end, despite her grief, danger to himself and others and professionals, police and
Jackson agreed to take part in a should be detained, even against
addicts and their families
recently produced video, Death by his will.
Jib, a stark, 18-minute chronicle of “He was psychotic, talking gibber- who will talk frankly about
the horrors of meth. ish, nonsense, all day,” she recalls the impact of the drug and
In it, she plays the recorded of a lunch date in 2001. how its spread might be
phone message her son, Ryan, left As they sat together on the beach prevented.
on her answering machine just at English Bay, Ryan spun wild fan- The public is invited to
weeks before his death. tasies of being trained as a ninja in the forums, which are free.
“Hey, Mom. You must be worried Japan.
sick about me,” says the strained, ❖ Kamloops
plaintive voice on the tape. “Please On their way home, his distraught Date: April 26, 2005
don’t be worried. I’m fine . . . I’m mother stopped the car at a gas sta- Time: 7-9 p.m.
looking to get balanced really fast. I tion and called for Car 87 — the Venue: Thompson
love you, Mom . . . [tears]. You don’t Vancouver police vehicle that is
Rivers University —
have to worry any more. We can go tasked with dealing with the
for a walk on the beach.” mentally ill. The Grand Hall,
On the night of Jan. 13, 2002, Ryan She was told it would take three to 900 McGill Rd.,
Jackson was seen balancing on a four hours for the car to get there. Kamloops
railing on the northeast side of Van- By the time it arrived, Ryan’s psy-
couver’s Cambie Street Bridge. chosis had retreated. Victoria
A passerby tried to talk him down. “He was himself again, lucid and Date: May 2, 2005
Ryan told her he was breaking up talking straight,” Jackson says. Time: 7-9 p.m.
inside “on a cellular level.” He Car 87 did not take her son. Ryan was no thief. He found other way to save other children from
Venue: Oak Bay High West
asked: “Is it going to hurt?” then On a later occasion, Ryan was ways to get money. falling into the addiction trap is
swan-dived to his death on the detained by police in Chilliwack His mother suspects he sold him- through early education. — The Theatre (west build-
concrete below. while behaving erratically and was self. Parents need to be taught how to ing), 2101 Cadboro Bay Rd.,
❖ admitted to a psychiatric ward. “He was a good boy; he didn’t recognize giveaway traits — things Victoria
Ryan had been diagnosed with On his release, he returned to his want to hurt others. He really had like Ryan Jackson’s impulsive
drug-induced bipolar disorder — lodgings in Burnaby to find that no other choice but to become a behaviour and his tendency to Surrey
otherwise known as manic- everything he owned had been victim of the street,” she says. make unsound decisions. Date: May 3, 2005
depressive illness — and had been stolen. Jackson had done what she could. Jackson is taking her story public Time: 7-9 p.m.
in and out of psychiatric wards four Unable to deal with such set- But she could not force her son to in the hope that others may be able Venue: Bell Centre for the
times in 10 months. backs, his life spiralled further out accept treatment. to help in developing a website
But as with many similar victims, of control. She now thinks parents in her sit- dedicated to early education and Performing Arts,
he refused to accept that he was ill He moved into a series of single- uation should be able to force their prevention efforts. 6250-144th St.,
and had stopped taking his med- room-only hotels. The key to his adult children into rehab, even She can be reached at Surrey
ications. last hotel room was in his pocket against their will. email@example.com.
A post-mortem exam showed he when he died. She’s also convinced that the best firstname.lastname@example.org Vancouver
Date: May 5, 2005
Crystal meth is Time: 7-9 p.m.
Reporter Matt Meth addicts have Experts agree Drug experts A preview of what
brewed in illegal Venue: John Oliver
Ramsey describes special treatment prevention is the south of the bor- you can expect if
Secondary School —
the struggles of labs from ingredi- needs, but even best cure for meth der, where crystal- you attend one of
his cousin, a ents readily avail- the government addiction, but meth is rampant, our special com- 530 East 41st Ave.,
known crystal able in stores. admits resources disagree on the say the worst is munity forums on Vancouver
meth addict. Critics ask, ‘Why?’ fall short in B.C. right approach. yet to come in B.C. meth (see right).
SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2005 THE PROVINCE ❘ UNWIND ❘ B3
Meth addict’s brush with death
He heard demons and flung himself from his window, but was saved by wires
BY MATTHEW RAMSEY
ick spent the morning of Easter
Sunday in his tiny hotel room,
reading the book of Revelation,
listening to Christian radio — and doing
Thirty-six hours into the binge, apocalyp-
tic visions swirled in his head. The 31-year-
old sensed a biblical exodus under way on
the street below.
Doves and crows flew past his window.
Whispered messages delivered a warning.
Demons were coming for the impure.
Nick (he asks that his real name not be
used) stripped naked, paced and sweated,
climbed up and down on to the window
ledge. A crowd gathered on the corner of
Vancouver’s Pender and Abbott streets.
Nick thought about the past five years of
his life as a meth addict. Lost friends and
girlfriends. Lost opportunity. It was time,
he thought, to make a leap of faith and
take direction from a higher power.
Again, he climbed on to the ledge. The
window was flung wide. He “prayed to God
for a little push.”
Then the police kicked his door in.
“It was just between me and God,” he
says. “Then reality hit, and I was dangling
on a wire 50 feet off the ground.”
His saviour? Coiled overhead wires about ,
Crystal meth was “ruining his life” says the man who survived this
two metres beneath his window. plunge from his hotel window and is now drug-free.
A week later, Nick was back in his little
room, sitting on his single bed and talking
lucidly about life. He’s open and sincere,
charismatic and self-deprecating. In a
manila envelope on the table next to the
window are the infamous photos of him,
naked, arms spread wide, hands gripping
the wire, body bent double.
You can’t see his face in the photos, but
he’s talking to police. The officers are trying
to calm him down and stop him from let-
ting go. Even then, Nick’s meth-addled
brain told him the police and fire crews
above and below were evil.
At the hospital, he begged doctors to kill
him, believing he faced torture at the
hands of his persecutors. The voices
wouldn’t stop for another few hours.
Now, Nick manages a chuckle when he
leafs through the images of that day.
“It’s amazing what jumping out of a
window will do for you,” he says with a
shake of his head. “I have a new lease on
life. I feel like this is my last chance.”
And Nick isn’t wasting the opportunity.
He hasn’t used meth since Easter.
He’s in regular contact with a doctor and
a counsellor. He’s due to start a rehab pro-
gram in Maple Ridge later this month. He’s
also working closely with Vancouver police.
The department’s Odd Squad, responsi-
ble for the acclaimed film Through a Blue
Lens, is documenting his road to recovery.
Nick is happy to do all he can. For the
first time in a long time, he feels engaged
in something healthy.
“It’s 100 per cent, without a doubt, the
crystal meth that’s ruining my life,” he says. Clinging to wires, the young man talks with a police officer, seen in Vancouver Fire Department emergency personnel use a ladder to
email@example.com the window above him. PHOTOS BY JACK SIMPSON — FOR THE PROVINCE rescue ‘Nick’ after he jumped from his window.
A8 ❘ NEWS ❘ THE PROVINCE MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2005
T H E M E N A C E O F C R Y S TA L M E T H
Educating you and your community: Part 1
My cousin feeds his
dream from a box he
keeps beside his bed
A reporter’s search for a story
begins at home with a relative
BY A N Y NA M E, STORIES BY
C R Y S TA L M E T H MATTHEW RAMSEY
IS A KILLER
y cousin Anthony’s home is a work in progress.
• Crystal and crystal meth
are common street names
for methamphetamine, the
M It’s a modified tool shed in someone else’s backyard. Just
one room is protected from the dripping rain.
Anthony’s sketch of what he hopes the shack will one day look
like is pinned to a rough plywood wall.
most hyper-charged mem- It’s impressive — a towering cedar shading a modernistic two-
storey home, complete with workshop.
ber of the amphetamine But it’s a dream doomed to fail. The reason for that is stashed in a
drug family. Widely used in small wooden box next to Anthony’s bed.
the 1960s and early ’70s for The box contains crystal methamphetamine. Tiny shards of a
toxic drug made from industrial acids, camp fuel and cold medica-
its intense effects, crystal tion.
virtually disappeared in the Crystal meth was found in the bodies of 33 people in B.C. last
year, more than double the number in 2003, according to coroners’
mid-’70s, but has resur- statistics.
faced on a large scale in I’d come looking for my cousin because I was pursuing a story on
recent years. Other names: the drug and I knew he was addicted to it.
The last time I saw him, in the fall of 2004, he was living well,
Crank, jib, go- renting an apartment. At night, he collected metal from construc-
fast, speed. In a scene from the instructional tion sites. He spent a lot of his time in court, fighting for the right
video Death By Jib, shot in B.C., a to see his infant son.
Smokable young addict smokes crystal meth. His addiction was eight years old. It won.
forms of crys- Now, there is the shack and the wooden box next to the bed. One
tal are called “ice” or line of meth in the morning and one line at night.
The drug gives him energy and helps him to concentrate. In his
“glass.” In appearance, it is mind, there’s lots to do. He has to gather material, tools, bits and
a white crystalline powder. pieces, put them together. The meth, Anthony says, helps.
But doctors and toxicologists who deal with addicts like Anthony
Although legal ampheta- warn that someone with his history may eventually become
mine is odourless, illegal intensely paranoid as the toxins seep further into his system.
forms of the drug often They say meth addicts can have terrible hallucinations, sense
have a strong ammonia Continued on next page
The B.C. Coroners Service
The Province is spon-
soring four community
forum is in Kamloops
on April 26. There will COM I NG U P I N TH E PROVI NC E:
reports 33 people in B.C.
forums on the subject
of crystal-meth abuse.
be a forum in Victoria
on May 2, in Surrey on
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Sunday
Crystal meth is Meth addicts have Experts agree pre- Drug experts A preview of what
died with meth in their sys- Medical experts, vic- May 3 and in Vancou-
brewed in illegal special treatment vention is the best south of the bor- you can expect if
tims, police, families ver on May 5. For
tems in 2004, compared to and addicts will talk details, go to: labs from ingredi- needs, but even cure for meth der, where crystal you attend one of
15 in 2003. The long-term about prevention and www.canada.com/van- ents readily avail- the government addiction, but meth is rampant, our special commu-
trend shows deaths treatment and answer couver/theprovince/fe able in stores. admits resources disagree on the say the worst is nity forums on meth
questions from the atures/crystalmeth/ind Critics ask: ‘Why?’ fall short in B.C. right approach. yet to come in B.C. (see panel at left).
increasing year by year audience. The first ex.html
over the past five years.
MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2005 THE PROVINCE ❘ NEWS ❘ A9
From previous page
As of 2003,
bugs skittering under their skin, hear
voices and see images of non-existent
people ghosting in and out of their
Many show up at hospital with all of
the symptoms of paranoid schizo-
phrenia. Some are diagnosed drug-
of all admissions
induced psychotic. Their minds end
up as fractured and fragile as broken to community-
glass. It happens with meth.
The lines on Anthony’s face, already
traced too deep for a 33-year-old, are a services in B.C.
roadmap to an uncertain future.
Meth users’ hearts pump harder to were for meth
keep their sleep-starved bodies
moving. Their chances, Anthony’s misuse, up from
chances, of experiencing a blood clot
will increase. Likewise with strokes four per cent
All of that happens, I learn, because
of what’s in the little box by the bed.
And, according to police and drug Richmond addictions counsellor
experts, it’s happening to thousands of Dr. Ray Baker says he’s seen meth
British Columbians as meth use and addiction in the hospitality indus-
production grows and spreads. try, in construction, forestry, fish-
When The Province first reported ing, the medical profession, law,
those grim coroners’ statistics in
Skin sores from constant among firefighters.
March, the newspaper was flooded
picking are a sign of Name the job and meth is there.
with letters from families across
crystal-meth addiction. It showed up last year as the drug
B.C. frantic with worry about Scene from Death by Jib of choice for a ministerial assistant
their mothers, fathers, sisters,
brothers and cousins — their • Methamphetamine is an addic- working for the provincial govern-
Anthonys. tive stimulant drug that strongly The addiction rate may be high-
Over the past few weeks, I have activates certain systems in the est among street youth, but it’s by
explored the extent of meth no means limited to them.
addiction in communities across brain. It is closely related chemical- Health Canada chemist Richard
B.C. and will be reporting on the ly to amphetamine, but the effects Laing, who tests drug samples
problem in a series of articles all
this week. I have listened to har-
rowing tales, among them the
Vancouver woman’s who speaks
of methamphetamine on the
central nervous system are greater. towns in B.C. seized by police, says: “In almost
all areas of the Lower Mainland,
there’s been a modest to signifi-
cant increase in meth [seized since
candidly of her only child’s strug- ast, cheap and out of control. iwack, Mission, Abbotsford and 1998].”
gle against meth — and how it ended
one dark January night in suicide.
For some concerned legislators, the
I S I T E C S TA S Y
OR IS IT
F Methamphetamine is ripping
through B.C. communities
and across all demographics, from
Squamish, where as many as half
of drug exhibits seized by police in
recent years come back from gov-
A 2003 survey by the McCreary
Centre Society determined that just
four per cent of 30,500 high school
tragedy of crystal meth is the absence street kids to suburban house- ernment labs identified as meth, students questioned had ever used
of severe enough punishments to C R Y S TA L wives. The reasons, say police, according to RCMP drug-aware- amphetamines. But a smaller study
deter those who brew the deadly con- M ETH? counsellors and addicts, are rela- ness Cpl. Scott Rintoul. in 2003, conducted by Victoria GP
coction in homemade laboratories. tively simple. And the list is long. Victoria’s Youth Empowerment Doug McGhee, found that an aver-
For others, it’s the easy availability of Crystal meth is replacing Meth is cheap and easy to make Society is tracking what it calls “a age of five per cent of students in
the materials that go into making the ecstasy as the drug used using ingredients you can buy in vast increase in crystal metham- Grades 9 through 12 had tried
drug. They are asking whether tighter your local hardware store. A new phetamine use among youth.” methamphetamines.
restrictions wouldn’t cut the flow off at by teenagers and young user will feel a sense of accom- It found that 11 per cent of its However, McGhee notes, 12 per
its source. adults in the rave and plishment and satisfaction, ener- clients in 2000-01 were meth users. cent (including the five per cent of
Looming over the picture in B.C. is dance scene, police say. It’s gy and purpose. They can work By 2003-04, the figure was 63 per meth users) reported taking ecsta-
the experience of such U.S. cities as harder for longer. Meth enhances cent. As of March 11, 143 of the 267 sy. Considering RCMP reports that
Everett in Washington state, where cheaper, at $10 for a sex. It feels great. young people referred to the pro- more than half of ecstasy seized in
police say they can’t fight the meth "point" or about one-tenth “It’s very addictive,” says 25-year gram in 2005 reported using meth. 2004 contained meth, that means
tide without the help of volunteers to veteran cop Sgt. Walter Argent, In Kamloops, youth drug coun- 10 per cent are actually using meth.
counsel those at risk. of a gram. An ecstasy hit, who works in Vancouver’s down- sellor Bob Hughes has watched the “It’s higher than the five per cent
As I worked on these stories, I heard or tablet, can cost twice as town core. “There’s no particular number of meth-addicted young reported,” McGhee says. “The
Anthony’s story repeated dozens of much. The RCMP also say socio-economic background you people coming to his facility near- prevalence might be as high as one
times. I want my cousin to read these need to be from to be on this stuff.” ly double in the past year alone. in 10 kids in high school — and
stories because I don’t know how else that some drugs seized at And, says Argent, in Vancouver “[Meth] is ravaging Kamloops,” that’s two years ago.”
to help him. raves that were sold as it’s easily available. Just like in Chill- he says simply. firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony doesn’t listen too much
anymore. The box is winning. ecstasy were, in fact, crystal Where to go for help
He insists he’s in control. That he’s meth. They say some deal-
“self-medicating.” That he’s working ers give out “free samples” Kaiser Foundation: email@example.com Watari Youth Day Treatment
on the shack. He has a joke to prove it. www.kaiserfoundation.ca Narcotics Anonymous: Program:
Q: What’s the difference between a in hopes of hooking new
B.C. Partners for Mental Health: www.bcrscna.bc.ca/meetings/list- 604-438-3755
crack addict and a meth head? customers.
A: A crack addict will steal your wal- www.heretohelp.ca ings Family Services
let. A meth head will steal your wallet
and help you look for it. • As of 2003, 11 per cent
of all admissions to com-
Prevention Source B.C.:
of Greater Vancouver:
Anthony throws back his head and Early Psychosis Intervention: Crystal Recovery: Narconon Detox Centre:
laughs smoke toward the ceiling. His munity addictions services
www.psychosissucks.ca www.crystalrecovery.com 1-866-266-6616
smile is quick and wide. in B.C. were for meth mis-
And then it’s time to go. There’s a Crystal Meth Anonymous: Canadian Centre on Substance Methamphetamine Response
hug, a promise to visit again. Antho- use, up from four per cent firstname.lastname@example.org Abuse: www.ccsa.ca Committee: 604-736-2033
ny’s not going anywhere soon. in 1999.
A10 ❘ NEWS ❘ THE PROVINCE TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2005
T H E M E N A C E O F C R Y S TA L M E T H
Educating you and your community: Part 2
Drug ingredients are as
close as your local store
S T U F F T H AT These ingredients, necessary for
meth production, were easily
Gaps in Canada’s
GOE S I NTO
obtained in local stores.
GERRY KAHRMANN — THE PROVINCE
regulations are easily
The list of core
exploited, RCMP say
ingredients, as well as STORIES BY
directions for how to MATTHEW RAMSEY
hat you need to start making crystal
were found, downloaded
and printed from the methamphetamine is as close as your
nearest hardware store.
Internet in less than three On a mid-March shopping trip, The Province
minutes. spent just $100.58, including taxes and environ-
mental fees, to acquire the raw materials.
Staff at the Wal-Mart in North Vancouver didn’t
Below is a partial list of raise an eyebrow while ringing up containers of
ingredients readily acetone, Extra Strength Sudafed, methyl hydrate
and Coleman camp fuel.
available at a variety of Same story at Rona, where we stocked up on
stores: two other key ingredients, muriatic acid and lye.
The purpose of the expedition was to demon-
• Acetone strate how easy it is to buy these ingredients, a
• Naphtha fuel fact of which police and anti-drug activists are
• Methyl hydrate all too aware.
Although steps have been taken in the U.S. to
• Sudafed limit the availability of these materials, Canada
• Muriatic acid appears to be taking a different approach —
despite the fact that communities in B.C. riven
• Lye by meth addiction want action taken.
• These and other ingredi-
ents were purchased at
The Province is holding four community
forums on the subject of crystal-meth
In March, Maple Ridge became the first com-
munity in Canada to set up a program called
Meth Watch. Its goal is to teach retailers to be on
Wal-Mart or Rona for a abuse. Medical experts, victims, police, the lookout for people buying the raw materials.
total of $100.58
B.C. won’t take families and addicts will talk about pre-
vention and treatment and answer ques-
tions from the audience. The first forum
is in Kamloops on April 26. There will be
Volunteers distribute educational materials to
employees and managers of 70 businesses in the
Fraser Valley suburb. Posters have gone up in
Some products routinely
U.S. initiative a forum in Victoria on May 2, in Surrey
on May 3 and in Vancouver on May 5.
For details, go to: www.canada.com/van-
store windows; employees are advised what to
watch for. Stickers are placed on shelves where
the chemicals and related paraphernalia are dis-
played. Any employee who suspects illegal activ-
Washington state legislators are debating two couver/theprovince/features/crystal-
found at clandestine labs: proposed changes to a law that would significantly meth/index.html
• acetone tighten access to key meth ingredients. Continued on next page
• paint and varnish remover
One piece of legislation would require anyone
selling anything containing ephedrine or pseu-
• lacquer thinner doephedrine to be licensed as a pharmacist.
H O W T O S P O T A C R Y S TA L - M E T H L A B O R AT O R Y
• camp fuel That would prevent anyone from selling more
than three packages of products known to contain
• antifreeze those precursors, such as Sudafed, in one go. Clues to possible crystal- when they pass by their ■ Garbage frequently contains
• Drano Another bill would require anyone buying the meth labs in your area: residence numerous plastic medicine
• brake cleaner
products to show photo ID and sign a register. If
such laws existed in B.C., shopping for meth
■ Frequent late-night ■ Paranoid or odd behaviour bottles.
• ephedrine ingredients would be almost impossible.
activity or expensive security ■ Setting out garbage in
• pseudoephedrine But Solicitor-General Rich Coleman says B.C is
not considering following Washington’s lead. And
Meth Watch national spokesman Gerry Harrington
■ Windows blacked out or
curtains always closed
■ People always coming
outside to smoke cigarettes
neighbour’s collection area.
Anyone who suspects a lab
■ Residents unfriendly, appear ■ Chemical odours coming should call their local police or
says the U.S. measures would put the onus of
policing on retail employees — and be an inconve- secretive about their activities from the house, garbage or CrimeStoppers at
nience to consumers. ■ Watch cars suspiciously detached buildings 1-800-222-TIPS.
TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2005 THE PROVINCE ❘ NEWS ❘ A11
“Anywhere west of the
Mississippi, [meth] is an
— Gerry Harrington, Meth Watch spokesman
From previous page
ity can call an RCMP hotline. M A J O R H E A LT H
That way, says Meth Watch national HAZAR DS OF
spokesman Gerry Harrington, police
can track hot spots and better monitor C R Y S TA L M E T H
the ebb and flow of the meth trade.
“It sends a signal. It sends a signal to Methamphetamine causes
the addicts themselves. We know who increased heart rate and blood
you are, we know what you’re doing pressure and can cause irre-
and we don’t want you in the store,”
Harrington said. versible damage to blood ves-
A similar program is in place in at sels in the brain, producing
least 17 states in the U.S..
“Anywhere west of the An explosion in an illegal strokes. Other effects include
Mississippi, [meth] is an issue,” meth lab in Surrey resulted respiratory problems, irregular
Harrington says. Anecdotal evi- in this devastation.
RCMP PHOTO heartbeat and extreme anorex-
dence from the U.S. suggests
Meth Watch can cut back on the ia. Its use can result in cardio-
street-level availability of the drug by vascular collapse and death.
as much as 25 per cent.
Meth Watch will soon be rolled out in Other effects include irri-
drug and retail stores across Canada, tability, insomnia, confusion,
with all employees taking a 20-minute tremors, convulsions, anxiety,
online training session.
Canadian federal regulations, enact- paranoia and aggressiveness.
ed in 2003, require only that compa-
spreads its poison
Hyperthermia and convulsions
nies that manufacture, import, export
or distribute precursor chemicals, can result in death.
such as ephedrine and pseu-
doephedrine, be licensed.
While he’s reluctant to criticize
Health Canada’s 2003 rules, Sgt. Mike n January, a crystal-meth lab duced during the manufacture of tar-like substances in the sew- six drug labs in the past two
Harding of the RCMP’s clandestine-lab
team notes that there are easily
exploited gaps in the regulations.
I in Surrey exploded, forcing the
evacuation of 20 nearby resi-
dents. In June last year, two
of crystal meth are soaring.
For every kilogram of meth, the
“cooks” leave behind six to eight
ers in Port Coquitlam led police
to a meth lab in late March
where they found 11 kgs of ecsta-
years, have to be taught what to
Make a mistake and the “front
Anyone with a good record (clean at garbage disposal operators in kilograms of waste chemicals, sy. of the house blows off,” Roberts
least for 10 years) can apply for, and Delta became violently ill when says Vancouver’s environmental Sgt. Mike Harding, the RCMP says. ”
most likely get, a licence to possess the their truck crushed containers protection branch manager officer in charge of the Moun- The financial impact of envi-
precursors. An import licence is virtu- of discarded chemicals believed Doug Roberts. ties’ clandestine lab team, says ronmental cleanups is also sub-
ally guaranteed at that point, as long to be from a meth lab. The poisonous sludge is often these substances contaminate stantial. The cost of of disposing
as you can prove there are two other In 2003, a 20-tonne compactor stored haphazardly, posing a groundwater, soil, damage the of ingredients is between $5,000
people in your organization with clean in Vancouver was lifted a half- serious threat not only to peo- sewer systems themselves and and $7,000 per lab, Harding says,
records who are also responsible for metre off the ground by an ple making the drug, but to those poison fish habitats. not including labour or materi-
the product. Health Canada also needs explosion believed to have been living next door. They also pose a hazard to fire als.
to be satisfied that security at the stor- caused by compacting cans of “The atmosphere in those crews and other municipal A City of Vancouver report put
age facility is adequate. discarded ether, an ingredient of buildings can be poisonous, cor- workers for whom special, cost- the average cleanup cost at
After those hoops are cleared, a crystal meth. rosive, explosive. Would you ly training is required. between $18,000 and $33,000.
licence holder can import and sell pre- And in 2002, a Burnaby woman want to be living next to “The biggest danger for us is And the number of labs discov-
cursors to other licence holders. They had a lucky escape when that?”Roberts says. just soaking up this stuff,” says ered and dismantled is increas-
can also sell to non-licence holders as methane gas exploded in a Kit- The porridge of waste chemi- Archie Roberts (no relation to ing. Municipalities pay for clean-
long as those individuals promise they silano sewer line. The force of cals includes acetone, dustings Doug), a training officer with the ups and bill Ottawa. But Health
are the end users and fill out a pur- the blast sent a manhole cover of highly flammable red phos- Vancouver fire department. Canada refunds the money only
chase document. through her car windshield. phorous, lye, muriatic acid and Anhydrous ammonia, if inhaled, when there’s a police report and
“That document,” Harding says, Drug-lab chemicals dumped anhydrous ammonia. sucks moisture out of a victim’s charges are laid.
“goes nowhere.” into sewers were believed to be The toxic brew is dumped lungs, giving him “instant freez- Plus, says Doug Roberts,
The information is not passed on to responsible. down drains, emptied into sew- er burn,” he says. Ottawa does not pay the wages
officials at Health Canada, nor is it Costs linked to the cleanup and ers or abandoned in ditches, Vancouver fire crews, who have for first responders or subse-
available to police — except by war- disposal of chemical waste pro- fields and back gardens. A blob been summoned to the scene of quent legal expenses.
rant. The implication is that anyone
could use fake ID and false informa-
tion on the form and walk away with COM I NG U P: ‘An avalanche coming this way’
The holes in the law are compound- Wednesday Thursday Friday Sunday In 1998, B.C. RCMP the RCMP says that mobile operations
ed by traditional smuggling operations Meth addicts Experts agree Drug experts We preview officers investigated most labs discovered that are easy to set up
and companies that simply choose to have special prevention is south of the our special eight meth labs. Three today are considered and easier to leave
ignore the rules. treatment the best cure border, where community years later, officers “super labs,” produc- behind.
“There are diversions. There’s little took apart 11 labs and ing relatively large “It’s just starting. It’s
needs, but even for meth crystal meth is forums on
doubt about that,” Harding says. three ecstasy produc- amounts of drugs. an avalanche coming
As things stand, there’s a powerful the government addiction, rampant, say crystal ers. By 2004, the num- In neighbour ing this way,” says Archie
economic incentive — and precious admits but disagree the worst is meth (see ber of lab busts had Washington state, Roberts, a training offi-
little risk — for people wanting to cook resources fall on the right yet to come in opposite shot up to 19. super labs are giving cer with the Vancou-
up crystal meth. B.C. page). Sgt. Mike Harding of way to small, highly- ver fire department.
short in B.C. approach.
A8 ❘❘ NEWS ❘ THE PROVINCE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 2005
T H E M E N A C E O F C R Y S TA L M E T H
Educating you and your community: Part 3
B.C. minister admits
BARRI E RS T0
T R E AT M E N T
more beds are needed
Detox facilities are doing
As patient list
the best they can to meet grows, so do
meth addicts’ needs, but
often the behaviour of meth
psychotics is simply too STORIES BY
extreme to deal with, says STAFF REPORTER
Dr. Bill MacEwan.
ack of access to detox and rehab beds for
MacEwan deals with meth
psychotics every day in his
role as head of the psychosis
L addicts is a key complaint of counsellors
(and addicts themselves) across B.C.
The province has just 900 residential facili-
ty beds for drug and alcohol abusers who want
program at St. Paul’s Hospi-
help. Only 75 of them are for youths.
tal. Brenda Locke, Minister of State for Mental
He says that typically, psy- Health and Addiction Services, says that’s not
enough — when the need for young people is
chotics will hear voices, “acute.”
experience hallucinations Cpl. Scott Rintoul, of the RCMP drug aware-
ness section, agrees: “Are we equipped to han-
and disjointed thought
dle detox? No, we don’t have enough [beds].”
processes and be agitated, His solution? “Increase detox, increase treat-
depressed or invigorated ment and make both available on demand.”
Dr. Bill MacEwan, who runs the psychosis
(depending on when they program at St. Paul’s Hospital and routinely
used). tours meth hot spots in the downtown core,
says more resources for treatment and detox
Three of the five beds in
are needed — “period.”
the St. Paul’s pro- But MacEwan adds that it is especially
gram usually are use rots the teeth, important when treating meth addicts to
understand that the drug can cause intense
taken up by meth as shown in this mental problems. The ability to help addicts
scene from the
addicts, MacEwan video Death By Jib. with both the addiction and the mental ill-
ness is critical.
says, and about 40
Some facilities are reluctant to accept
per cent of patients in the patients with dual diagnosis, he says.
hospital’s psychiatric ward “We definitely need more planning and more
beds around that,” says MacEwan. “It’s a real
are drug-induced psychotics. dearth.”
MacEwan compares psy- Locke says the B.C. government is looking
at developing a plan to increase the number
chosis to a ride at Disney-
of long-term residential-care treatment homes
land — “in the dark, hurtling for youth.
That plan will also examine where in B.C.
along at fast speeds, not COM I NG U P: Meth addiction the homes are needed most.
k nowing where yo u’re Squamish, for example, with a population
going.” Methamphetamine is or “flash,” that lasts only of close to 15,000 in 2003, doesn’t have a sin-
Addicts, he says, are often
Thursday Friday Sunday taken orally or a few minutes and is gle rehab bed for adults or youth — at a time
Experts agree Drug experts What you can intranasally (snorting described as extremely when demand is increasing every year.
frightening. “They’re unpre- prevention is south of the expect if you the powder), by intra- pleasurable. Oral or The Youth Empowerment Society in Victo-
dictable. Staff are very wary the best cure border, where attend one of venous injection and by intranasal use produces ria, with five beds, is the only youth facility on
smoking. Immediately euphoria — a high, but Vancouver Island. Young people there can wait
of them. They often are just for meth addic- crystal meth our special for more than a month to get a slot.
after smoking or intra- not a rush. Users may
all over the map emotional- tion, but dis- is rampant, community Young people between the ages of 14 and 29
venous injection, the become addicted quick-
agree on the say the worst forums on are specifically identified as an at-risk group
ly . . . The kids will call it methamphetamine user ly and use it with
right approach. is yet to come meth (see in the provincial government’s August 2004
‘sketchy.’ This person is capa- experiences an intense increasing frequency Crystal Meth and Other Amphetamines: An
in B.C. panel, oppo- sensation, called a “rush” and in increasing doses.
ble of doing anything at any Integrated BC Strategy. The strategy makes no
moment.” Continued on next page
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 2005 THE PROVINCE ❘ NEWS ❘❘ A9
Video explores meth’s devastation
n the shocking 18-minute video nized by The Province in conjunc- needing help with meth addiction. couver, Surrey and Abbotsford. The it would help her lose weight.
I Death By Jib, kids swear, twitch
and writhe in classic junkie style.
They shoot crystal meth into weep-
tion with this current series.)
The video takes viewers on to the
street to witness the horror where
His inspiration was a 1999 film,
Wrath of the Dragon, a production
of Coquitlam film maker Michael
work paid off. Letourneau and
Neitzel found teens, young adults,
even the mother of a man who
“All the guys would love me, I’d be
skinny and popular,” she says. “I
looked basically like a rack.”
ing sores on their arms. it actually happens. Neitzel that dealt with heroin abuse. committed suicide while coming The Fraser Health Authority now
The film details loss, sexual “It’s way better to have an in-your- It was a no-holds barred journey off meth, to talk graphically about has 60 copies to distribute to
exploitation, mental devastation face video,” says Letourneau, Peace into the heroin-junkie underworld their experiences. mental health centres and coun-
and lonely death in a squalid hotel Arch Community Services coun- — with addicts as the guides. The interviews are stark and selling centres.
room. selling program manager. Teens are Letourneau called Neitzel and “we uncompromising. For information on how to screen
This is no after-school special. less likely to dismiss a message from immediately connected over the “I haven’t seen my family in five Death By Jib, contact Maureen
But, says co-producer Kevin an authority figure if it’s delivered phone,” he says. years,” says one teen. Hamblin, director of community
Letourneau, that’s the whole point in a way they can relate to by peo- With $25,000 from the Fraser “[Addiction] is like a little box relations for Peace Arch Commu-
of this presentation on life as a ple of their own age, he says. Health Authority, Death By Jib was you’re trapped in . . . worms that eat nity Services, at 604-531-6226.
crystal-meth addict. The idea for the video came in the quickly put into production. your brain,” says another. To buy a copy, call 1-800-263-6910,
(Death By Jib will be shown at all fall of 2004 as Letourneau became Letourneau and Neitzel inter- A Grade 9 girl tells how she start- or go to kineticvideo.com.
four community forums being orga- aware of a steady increase in youth viewed users from Whalley, Van- ed using meth because she was told email@example.com
From previous page
specific reference to increased funding
for rehabilitation services, despite the
fact that the system is under tremendous
In 1999, 933 British Columbian men
and women sought community addic-
tion services for amphetamine misuse
(four per cent of the total number of
admissions to addictions services). By
2003, that number had jumped to 1,687,
or 11 per cent of the total.
Admissions by region show a stagger-
ing growth in amphetamine abuse.
In the Fraser Health Authority area, for
example, 498 people were admitted in
1999, 766 in 2003.
Although she could not provide
specifics, Locke says that beds in the
Fraser Health Authority area will be
increased “very shortly.”
She points to wait times for adult detox
centres as a key indicator of the govern-
ment’s progress in addressing the prob-
lem. It used to be that an addict seeking
help from the Vancouver Coastal Health
Authority would have to wait six weeks; Dr. Tania Lecomte
now they wait only two days, she says. is launching a
“For us, the biggest issue is prevention,” study to find how
Locke says. “We can always do more, best to treat meth
there’s no addicts.
doubt about The Province is holding forum is in Kamloops on JASON PAYNE
it.” four community forums April 26. There will be a — THE PROVINCE
Locke has on the subject of crystal- forum in Victoria on May
the needs of
meth abuse. Medical
experts, victims, police,
families and addicts will
2, in Surrey on May 3 and
in Vancouver on May 5.
For details, go to:
‘We don’t know how to treat these
was visiting a
talk about prevention
and treatment and
answer questions from
people,’ says author of new study
Island care the audience. The first index.html A Vancouver researcher hopes system has a proven treatment history of meth addiction, studies
facility in her three-year study will help to method. have shown that 36 to 64 per cent
February when a 21-year old woman in FOUR KEY determine a better way of treating “We don’t have solutions. We of users experience psychosis and
a detox program talked with her about crystal-meth addicts. don’t know how to treat these peo- psychotic symptoms.
her life for a full hour. OBJECTIVES Assistant psychiatry professor ple,” she says. “There’s no inte- Other studies have suggested that
The woman described how her addic- Key objectives of the provin- Dr. Tania Lecomte says her look at grated treatment people get unless long-term use can damage the
tion to crystal meth had made her life cial government’s strategy 300 addicts will track those who they find it for themselves. The brain’s ability to produce the neu-
as a single mom bearable, even as it to counter meth addiction: have undergone one or more psy- problem is too new. People either rotransmitters dopamine and sero-
made everything worse. chotic episodes. don’t know how to face it, or it tonin — essentially robbing the
“She told me how ill she was, how she prevent people from start- Lecomte says the symptoms that hasn’t triggered the [alarm] bell.” user of the ability to feel pleasure.
wanted to stop doing it. It was very tough ing to use meth; reduce cur- addicts experience include extreme A February 2004 survey of 40 Lecomte’s study has $138,000 in
on her,” Locke says. rent use; reduce harm and paranoia, visual and auditory hal- street youth who used metham- startup funding. She’s hoping for
To have the courage to try to quit the overdose deaths; reduce sup- lucinations and severe cognitive phetamines found that 84 per cent another $138,000 for Year 2 and
only thing that brings you pleasure is a ply. Copies are available online at impairment. suffered from psychosis and that $97,000 for Year 3. She’s also hop-
remarkable thing, Locke says. She says addicts are often stuck their symptoms increased as they ing that the provincial government
“If you can do this, you can do any- between mental-health facilities used the drug. will step in with financial assis-
thing.” /pdf/meth_final.pdf and detox centres and neither In Japan, a country with a long tance.
A10 ❘❘ NEWS ❘ THE PROVINCE THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2005
T H E M E N A C E O F C R Y S TA L M E T H
Educating you and your community: Part 4
Are our schools
N E E D TO DO
MORE: RC M P
doing enough? Critics ask
Const. Richard DeJong, the
RCMP’s drug-awareness coordi-
nator, describes DARE as a programs
“building block of prevention.”
As students get older and face
aimed at the
different social challenges, they young have
need different information to
address those challenges.
“There’s certainly the need” for STORIES BY
a more co-ordinated high-school MATTHEW RAMSEY
prevention program in this
province, says DeJong. As it t’s DARE graduation night at
stands, response is primarily
“patchwork” with little or no
Woodward Elementary in
Richmond and there are
more parents than seats in the
dovetailing among programs gym.
and district-specific efforts. About 150 people are sitting
in fold-out plastic chairs. Late-
“Schools are just being reac- comers are relegated to long,
tive,” he says. “You can’t just low wooden benches, back-
breakingly unique to elemen-
leave it up to the police to get tary schools.
the message out Two Mounties in full reds are
Students at Woodward
there. You need to there, the mayor is there,
Elementary in Richmond
school officials are present. The
look at it from all graduate from DARE.
NICK PROCAYLO — THE PROVINCE
gym is decorated with posters
different angles.” — “Dare to be drug free,” “Dare
to stay alive.” Everyone is wait-
Vancouver police Insp. John De ing for Robyn Anderson’s Grade
Haas says one organization is 5 and 6 students to file in and
doing just that. The Search Insti- be honoured for their achieve-
tute in Minneapolis conducted a It’s a big night for the kids, the
study of 200,000 Grade 6 to 12 end of the 10-week program.
It’s a big night for the police
students, looking at the experi- because this is the first group
ences young people need to to come through DARE (Drug
grow into healthy, well-rounded Abuse Resistance Education)
in Richmond. Next school year,
and caring adults. These include all Grade 5 classes in the city
parental involvement and rela-
tionships with others.
This is my prayer:
I pray to God I can break away, COM I NG UP: will do it. Const. Annette Martin of Richmond RCMP says
the goal is to educate the kids before they get to high
From this life that has left me blind, school. They talk about making smart choices and about
When the institute asked how I wish I had my kids to hold, Friday Sunday peer pressure. They talk about alcohol, marijuana and
many of the kids used illicit To put them down at bedtime. Drug experts What you can cigarettes. They do not talk about crystal meth.
I wish I could make dinner again, “It’s more about choices in life,” says Martin.
drugs three or more times in the south of the bor- expect if you The students arrive and act out anti-smoking and drink-
For the man that was in my world,
past 12 months, those with the I wish the dog I once owned, der, where crystal attend one of our ing skits on stage. The short plays feature themes such
Was in my lap all curled. meth is rampant, special communi- as “Drugs are bad, so just don’t start.”
fewest number of such experi- Five students make speeches. One suggests that the
I wish I had finished college, say the worst is ty forums on meth
ences were far more likely to I wish for all my dreams to have come true, DARE program should be available to “adults stupid
yet to come in B.C. (see panel).
answer that they had. I wish that life wasn’t such a mess.
— Anonymous Continued on next page
THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2005 THE PROVINCE ❘ NEWS ❘❘ A11
From previous page
enough to abuse drugs.”
The line gets a giggle from the crowd,
but the truth is that tonight’s graduation
marks the last formal, in-depth drug-
abuse prevention training of this dura-
tion and intensity these kids will get — “We’ve got to get
whether it works or not.
There is no uniform program in all B.C.
the judges in the
high schools as concentrated and system to realize
focused as DARE, despite the fact that
anti-drug groups have pushed for such it’s not a crime, it’s
a program for at least five years.
A 2001 survey of students in Grades 8
an addiction. The
and 9 by the Alcohol-Drug Education addiction has to be
Service found only ad-hoc, short-term
and uneven drug education efforts in
B.C. high schools.
Some instruction was incorporated in
the Planning 10 curriculum in 2004, but — Gordy
An addict injects meth in a
very little. Robson,
scene from the B.C.-made
Instead, the focus on drug prevention anti-meth activist
video Death By Jib.
is shifting to lower and lower grades.
Vancouver and Sur-
rey ran a pilot pro- The Province is hold- forum is in Kamloops
gram this school
year that addresses
drug issues with
Grade 4 kids.
ing four community
forums on the subject
of crystal-meth abuse.
on April 26. There will
be a forum in Victoria
on May 2, in Surrey on
May 3 and in Vancou-
‘Make punishment fit crime’
Insp. John de
Haas, head of the
victims, police, families ver on May 5. For MP: ‘It’s a national crimes. “It certainly would send a
signal to the producers that it’s not
ers from coming into the market-
and addicts will talk details, go to:
Vancouver police about prevention and www.canada.com/
issue [that] needs a just going to be a slap on the The MLA says his constituents
units assigned to
gang crime, youth
treatment and answer vancouver/ federal response’ wrist,” he says.
The Conservatives are setting up
are frustrated by “lax” sentences
handed to meth producers and
questions from the theprovince/features/
ser vices and row more than 30 grams of a crystal-meth task force they hope dealers.
audience. The first
the impact of those programs.
Asking a child’s mind to make adult W E A S K E D Y O U :
G marijuana and you could go
to jail for 25 years. Set up a
meth lab and the longest you could
will eventually become an apolit-
ical body with the goal of mitigat-
ing meth’s huge impact.
“There is no deterrent and that’s
what frustrates,” Bray says.
“The federal government has to
decisions is not effective, he says. What’s missing from spend behind bars is 6.6 years MPs from Saskatchewan, Mani- decide whether or not people who
School-based drug-abuse prevention before automatic parole. toba and Alberta, all alarmed by sell crystal meth to 15-year-olds
programs are not keeping kids away school-based drug That’s the law as it stands in the spread and prevalence of meth [are] a really bad thing.”
from cr ystal methamphetamine. prevention programs? Canada, and it’s got politicians agi- in their provinces, are echoing What’s missing in the political
“We’re missing something,” he says. Probably not tating for change. Kamp’s demands. debate is an acknowledgement
What’s missing, de Haas argues, is evi- Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Randy that many people who commit
dence that well-intentioned programs enough Randy Kamp wants meth posses- Hawes has introduced legislation crimes while under the influence
such as DARE cause behavioural change information. sion, trafficking and production that would oblige the province to of meth are addicts first, criminals
— that the DARE message to elemen- There was treated as seriously as cocaine and push for appropriate sentencing, second, says Gordy Robson.
tary school students about making safe no program heroin. He also wants Ottawa to as well as improve treatment Robson is a key organizer of an
and sound decisions with alcohol and at my high school. We had specifically focus on meth as it options. anti-meth movement in Maple
tobacco actually translates into drug contemplates a national drug strat- Some MLAs are more strident. Ridge.
avoidance in high school. speakers come in maybe egy. Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Jeff He says 90 per cent of that com-
In fact, 2003 research by the National once, but nothing about “It’s becoming a national issue Bray recently referred to meth munity’s homeless are meth
Institute on Drug Abuse found DARE drugs. We learned by and it needs a federal response,” dealers as “the vilest scum of the addicts, that 80 per cent of car
had negligible, if any, effect on the drug experimenting. Kamp says. earth.” thefts are meth-related and that 30
and smoking habits of 6,000 Grade 7 Miranda Baerg, 25 He and other Conservative MPs “The law is not a concern of per cent of property crime is root-
and 8 students surveyed. Coquitlam are pushing Justice Minister Irwin theirs,” he says. ed in the addiction.
An eight-year follow-up study on I think bring- Cotler to introduce minimum sen- “If the cost of getting caught is Robson says judges should rec-
Grade 6 students from Kentucky who tences for meth-related drug prohibitive, you may prevent oth- ognize that users, who often deal
had completed DARE, and another ing in public the drug, are the victims.
group which hadn’t, found no difference speakers, Longer sentences won’t work
between the two groups when it came people with
What the law dictates unless there is some effort made
to attitudes and behaviours about drugs. experience. to address the addiction while in
So de Haas and the Vancouver Coastal Learning from somebody Under the Controlled Drugs and can net sentences of six months custody, Robson says.
Health Authority are trying to find a Substances Act, drugs fall into to seven years, six months to five “We’ve got to get the judges in the
better model. that’s been through it is numerous categories, or sched- years for schedule 2 and six system to realize it’s not a crime,
A multi-agency research project led by the best thing. ules, that are ranked in the legal months to three years for sched- it’s an addiction,” Robson says.
the authority is now examining the Michelle Thomson, 25 system according to their per- ule 3. “The addiction has to be treated.”
whole question of drug-abuse preven- Coquitlam ceived severity. On the trafficking front, sched- As far as Robson is concerned,
tion with an eye to developing more All in all, kids Cocaine and heroin are sched- ule 1 and 2’s maximum punish- rehabilitation should be manda-
effective tools for teachers and parents. ule 1. Marijuana and hash (more ment is life (25 years with no tory for conditional sentences,
just don’t than 30 grams and more than 1 parole).
“We need,”de Haas stresses, “to design think drugs parole, probation and remand.
our programs on evidence.” gram respectively) are schedule For schedule 3, it’s 10 years. Merely elevating the criminality
For de Haas, the key to fighting drug are really 2. Amphetamines are schedule 3, Inmates are eligible for parole of meth, as demanded by some
abuse is not just to target kids, but to that bad. alongside LSD (acid) and magic after they’ve served a third of politicians, won’t make much of a
focus on the entire community when Cyrus Kenny, 22 mushrooms. their sentence and are automati- difference by itself, Robson says.
modeling prevention efforts. Vancouver Possession of a schedule-1 drug cally released after two-thirds. firstname.lastname@example.org
A14 ❘ NEWS ❘ THE PROVINCE FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005
T H E M E N A C E O F C R Y S TA L M E T H
Educating you and your community: Part 5
It’s your fight,
communities told WASHINGTON
STATE: We can’t
M E T H B AT T L E from public,
I N TH E U.S. police say
Meth by the numbers in
Snohomish Co., Wash.
Calls to illegal labs: STAFF REPORTER
2004 – 51
2003 – 95 essica Van Horn was a spirited 12-
2002 – 91
2001 – 84
J year-old in Grade 7 when she first
noticed her peers turning on to
methamphetamine. The highly addic-
Lab-cleanup costs tive drug was, in fact, tearing through
(in $US): her hometown of Everett and the sur-
rounding Snohomish County, just
Vehicle Kris Swanson, 17, started north of Seattle, in Washington state.
$2,000-$6,000 using meth when she was Jessica’s first idea was straightforward
14. She became a thief, enough — she would organize a sum-
then dropped out of mit for young people, by young peo-
$1,500-$2,700 school. Now, she’s kicked ple, to educate them about the dan-
Hotel/Motel the habit and is hoping at gers of the drug.
last to graduate. Today, 17-year-old Jessica is in her
$2,000-$3,000 GERRY KAHRMANN — THE PROVINCE third year as president of the Sno-
Apartment homish County Youth Meth Action
Team and the summit has become an
The ‘tweaking’ effect annual event. Attendance has grown
House from 800 to 1,300 this year.
$8,000-$25,000 “It’s a huge problem,” she says. “It’s
The most dangerous stage of the crystal-
overwhelming. A lot of my friends
meth “binge cycle” is known as “tweaking” have gone down the wrong path. I was
Deaths involving meth in Typically, during this stage, the abuser has trying to help them.”
Commitments such as Van Horn’s are
Snohomish County are up not slept in three to 15 days and is irritable the key to stemming the meth tide,
11 per cent in the last 12 and paranoid. Snohomish authorities say.
months compared to the “You’ve got to reach out to the com-
The “tweaker” has an intense craving for
munity,” says County Sheriff Rick Bart.
12 months previous. more methamphetamine; however, no “If you don’t have communities orga-
dosage will help recreate the euphoric high. nized, the police will be hitting their
heads against the wall. The reason I’m
Charges for driving This causes frustration and leads to unpre- optimistic is because of these kids.”
under the influence of dictability and a potential for violence. In 2001, Washington state police shut
meth are up 22 per cent in down 1,800 illegal meth-making labs.
Last year, the number fell to about
the past 12 months.
C O M I N G S U N D AY 1,400.
In Snohomish, the 51 lab calls in
Meth has been detected I N TH E PROVI NC E 2004 marked a four-year-low —
Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart wears a red wristband though that figure is still high com-
in 28 children under the WE BRING you the lowdown on our four com- pared to the 19 labs that Mounties in
bearing a " Do Not Meth around" anti-drug symbol.
age of 15 in the past 12 munity forums and introduce you to some of GERRY KAHRMANN — THE PROVINCE
the participants. (See panel opposite). Continued on next page
FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005 METH MENACE: THE U.S. SCENE THE PROVINCE ❘ NEWS ❘ A15
From previous page
B.C. took down last year.
The meth crisis is Bart’s major
headache. Even his nephew
became addicted and had to be
sent to California for treatment.
Bart says the cost of meth-
related investigations is at least
half his $40 million U.S. budget.
B.C., he says with a grimace, will
soon learn just how pervasive the
drug can be.
“We can probably tie 60 to 80
per cent of our crime back to
meth,” he says. “You [in B.C.] can
expect crime to go up. You can
expect [meth] to affect almost
everybody in your community.”
Bart says one of the best ways to
slow the rate of new addictions is
to target young people before
they pick up the habit.
Van Horn’s organization talks to
kids as young as 11. Adults are
involved too, assisting the kids to
carry out their initiatives.
Van Horn measures success not Sgt. John Flood of the
just by attendance, but by the Snohomish Regional Drug
number of young people who tell Task Force checks an
her the team and the summits abandoned home that had
have made a dif- contained two meth labs on
ference in their The Province is hold- forum is in Kamloops separate occasions.
lives. ing four community on April 26. There will GERRY KAHRMANN — THE PROVINCE
“Even if we forums on the subject be a forum in Victoria
reach a couple, of crystal-meth abuse. on May 2, in Surrey on
U.S. meth-lab horrors
that’s enough,” Medical experts, May 3 and in Vancouver
victims, police, families on May 5. For details,
One of the suc-
and addicts will talk go to:
cess stories is
Kris Swanson. about prevention and www.canada.com/
The 17-year-old treatment and answer vancouver/
Everett woman questions from the theprovince/features/ EVERETT, Wash, — Sgt. John Flood parks his 4X4 In B.C., individual police organizations take out labs
with a shy smile audience. The first crystalmeth/index.html outside a boarded-up home in a quiet neighbour- in their own areas. The Snohomish task force, formed
was a meth hood about 100 metres from a church. in response to an alarming proliferation of labs in the
abuser for five years until she got THE ORIGINS On the garage door of the tan rancher someone has late ’90s and early ’00s, is an all-in-one force.
clean. written in black marker, “No meth here.” The team does it all — raids and cleanup. State
Sitting with Bart in the lunch- OF METH In Everett, state restrictions on the sale of ingredi- authorities pick up the garbage for safe disposal.
room at the sheriff’s office, she First synthesized in 1887, ents used to make meth have slowed the spread of Flood’s truck roars down the driveway at another
talks about how she ate and so-called “super labs.” boarded-up meth lab just 30 seconds away. This one
smoked the drug, how she left methamphetamine is made In their place, a veritable forest of mini-labs, or so- is within spitting distance of a firehall, in what was
home at 15, dropped out of from the drug ephedrine, an called “Beavis and Butthead” operations, has sprung once a family home. Neighbours peer into the yard,
school, stole cars and robbed up. checking Flood out. A deputy found this operation
stores and houses to support her organic substance used as a The tan rancher was a “Butthead” operation. A man when he came to evict a tenant.
addiction. medicine in China for hun- moved in after his grandmother died, started a lab in At the derelict house overlooking the train tracks by
With the help of Van Horn’s dreds of years. It was once the basement, was turned in by relatives and came the Snohomish River, it’s plain to see why the neigh-
team, she eventually kicked her back to torch the house to erase the evidence. bours are so vigilant.
addiction. Now she’s back in high sold as a nasal spray and a The house is now condemned, the man is in jail and Flood steps into the front room, his flashlight beam
school, hoping to graduate this treatment for narcolepsy his family is stuck with the cleanup bill. slicing into dank, filth-strewn corners.
year. Flood and his colleagues on the Snohomish coun- Two televisions, a sealed jug of some unidentified
Susan York is executive director (sudden sleep disorder). Dur- ty task force kicked in the doors of 95 meth labs like yellow liquid, garbage and dishes heaped in the sink.
and co-founder of Lead On ing the Second World War, this in 2003, 51 in the county in 2004. The place is due for demolition. Flood climbs back
America, a group founded in both sides used it to improve (Meth-lab raids peaked in Washington in 2001, with into the truck, giving the place one last look in his
2001 in an effort to get meth labs 1,800. Last year, police took down about 1,350. In B.C. rear view mirror.
shut down. their soldiers’ performance. by contrast, the RCMP in 2004 raided 19 labs.) “There is no saving it,” he sighs.
York and her colleagues hold
neighbourhood meetings teach-
ing people how to spot a meth
Drug-resistant strain of HIV may be linked to meth use
lab and how to get it shut.
York says it took LOA three It’s a case that has New York’s gay show up here,” says Glyn Townson. is some speculation that meth use ous. The Canadian AIDS Society
years to eliminate its first lab. community reeling, but it’s only a A New York man in his 40s was contributed to the rapid onset notes there is an increased chance
But the most recent lab was iden- matter of time before someone in recently diagnosed the first known because the man routinely failed of HIV infection through unpro-
tified, raided and boarded up in Vancouver tests positive for drug- gay man with a drug-resistant to keep up with his HIV medication tected sex while under the influ-
just 83 days. She encourages resistant HIV. strain of HIV. regimen. ence of meth.
Canadian community groups to All the ingredients are in place to He had unprotected sex with Cases like his, also linked to meth “It’s basically like turning your
follow the Lead On example. complete the “recipe” here, says multiple partners, often while high abuse, have now turned up in Con- internal thermostat up. Inhibitions
“It’s an epidemic. It’s a plague the vice-chair of the B.C. Persons on crystal meth. necticut and California. are gone,” Townson says.
[here],” she says. “You’ve got to With AIDS Society — most impor- His unique strain of HIV appears Townson, who does not use the Concern over condom use “goes
network with us immediately, tantly, a large population of gay to have developed into full-blown drug, says meth abuse in Vancou- out the window” and patients pre-
because it’s going [north] across men using crystal methampheta- AIDS within two or three months ver’s gay community is rampant, scribed HIV or AIDS medications
the border.” mine. of his diagnosis. and the drug’s liberating aphro- forget to take them as they binge
email@example.com “I would be surprised if it didn’t It normally takes 10 years. There disiac effects are clearly danger- on meth, he says.
SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2005 THE PROVINCE ❘ NEWS ❘ A17
Users risking brain damage
The forum in EFFECTS: Paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis
Vancouver Imagine wires popping, snapping and them avoid coming back to the hospital.
Date: May 5, 2005 melting away on an overloaded circuit An average of one in five meth users will
Time: 7 - 9 p.m. board. end up experiencing drug-induced psy-
Venue: John Oliver That’s the best way to picture what’s chosis, he says, and many are “frequent
Secondary School theatre, going on in the brain of a methamphet- flyers” in the specialized psych ward.
530 East 41st Avenue (at amine user, says Dr. Bill MacEwan. From initial ingestion to withdrawal,
Fraser Street). The psychiatrist who heads up the meth tears through the brain.
University of B.C.’s schizophrenia pro- The first rush of the drug is character-
Mountain gram and the psychosis program at St. ized by a massive release of dopamine,
View Paul’s is an expert when it comes to the the molecule in the brain that generates
impact of meth on the brain. feelings of pleasure.
MacEwan is to be a panelist at Province “It’s like the biggest orgasm, the biggest
E. 41st Ave. meth forums in Surrey on May 3 and chocolate fix, you name it,” MacEwan
Vancouver on May 5. says. Sexual drive is increased, heart and
Prince Edward St.
From his vantage point at St. Paul’s and blood pressure rates soar.
the hallways of squalid single-room- The flipside is that after extended use,
E. 43rd Ave.
occupancy hotels in the Downtown East- the brain actually begins to require the
E. 44rd Ave. side, MacEwan sees the impact of meth drug in order to release the dopamine.
up close. He tours the hotels each week No drug, no pleasure. Then there’s the
because many of his clients live there. He intense craving for more, brain cell death,
checks up on them, encourages them to paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis.
take their medications and tries to help As MacEwan will explain, psychosis is
essentially a loss of touch with reality.
Thoughts become twisted and illogical,
“The overall message behaviours follow suit.
for people who are With meth, those effects can last for six
months and the cognitive impairment as
thinking of using a result of fried brain circuitry can last a
[meth] is to think lifetime, MacEwan says. Meth has even
been known to induce schizophrenia.
twice. Parents, be It’s more addictive than cocaine and
more psychologically damaging than
knowledgeable. Talk heroin.
to your kids. Don’t The message with meth is simple,
MacEwan says: “The overall message for
assume.” people who are thinking of using is to
“Parents, be knowledgeable about
— Dr. Bill MacEwan, things. Talk to your kids. Don’t assume.
Dr. Bill MacEwan says crystal meth has been known to psychiatrist This drug crosses over all socio-economic
induce schizophrenia. NICK PROCAYLO — THE PROVINCE backgrounds.”
The forum in
Date: May 3, 2005
Crystal called the ‘drug of choice’ in Surrey
Time: 7 - 9 p.m. FIGHTING BACK: president of the Meadowridge Ridge. The Life or Meth movement store owners and employees about
Venue: Bell Centre for the Rotary club. began in the summer of 2004 after how to spot someone buying the
A Lower Mainland Robson and her husband, Gordy a Salvation Army shelter in Maple ingredients that are used to manu-
6250 144th Street. community fights Robson, the film’s producer, recent- Ridge was flooded by the homeless. facture meth.
ly showed it to a Rotary club in The majority of the approximate- Among the many sub-groups,
the meth scourge Maui. Hawaii has a huge problem ly 400 men and women living rough there’s a team that works with the
with meth, and five Rotary clubs in there were addicted to meth. local paper on public awareness and
One B.C. community’s unique Maui are now trying to echo what’s Mary Robson soon figured out that an education group active in
approach to tackling cr ystal happening in Maple Ridge. Maple Ridge didn’t have a problem schools. The city is on board with
methamphetamine is now a movie Among local communities calling with homelessness; it had a prob- new bylaws penalizing property
— with captive audiences as far for help from Maple Ridge are Mis- lem with crystal meth. owners for allowing labs in their
away as Maui. sion, Langley, Richmond, Creston, “When somebody says somebody rental homes, and the RCMP tar-
Life or Meth: A Community Takes Campbell River and Surrey. should do something . . . quite often geted meth and began to lobby local
60 Ave. Action documents how Maple Ridge The methamphetamine problem you’re that somebody and you Crown counsel to push for tougher
embarked on a multi-partner anti- in Surrey is acute, says RCMP should just do it,” she says in the sentences.
meth movement. The 41-minute Const. Marc Searle. film. The initiative also extended to the
film is a how-to guide for other “It is the drug of choice,” he says. Robson and her Rotary colleagues justice system, where a team is
towns facing the wide range of The drug is linked to a variety of called together local businesses, watching and analyzing meth-
issues associated with drug. crimes and is showing up all across media, health-care providers and related court cases to track sen-
Even though the rough cut of the the city in every demographic. social-service organizations to come tencing trends.
film has only just been finished, it’s Limiting the damage from meth up with a plan. ■ For more information about Life or
already in demand. comes down to a combination of Life or Meth emerged. In March of Meth in Maple Ridge, go to www.crys-
“We’re getting calls from all over education, prevention and enforce- 2005, the community became the talmethtaskforce.com
the province,” says Mary Robson, ment, Searle says — exactly the first in Canada to roll out the Meth ■ To order a copy of the film, e-mail
who spearheaded the movement as approach now under way in Maple Watch program, which educates firstname.lastname@example.org