News » Whistler

Get the straight dope on crystal meth

Community forums scheduled for Oct. 18 and 19



"We really want to encourage people to come to the forum as families."

— Mayor Elinor Warner

Residents of the Pemberton Valley will get the straight dope on crystal meth at two community forums later this month.

The forums will include presentations from Dr. Phil Shoemack, Sea to Sky’s Medical Health Officer, Roger Lake of the Washington State Narcotics Investigators Association, and a 28-year-old recovering addict whose $400 a day habit resulted in permanent damage to his memory, the loss of his job and his near death.

"To create a healthy community, it is important that we educate not only our youth, but all of us as parents and community members," said Bruce Edmonds, a Mount Currie Band councillor who handles the council’s wellness portfolio.

The Mount Currie forum will take place on Oct. 18 at the Mount Currie Gymnasium.

The Pemberton forum is scheduled for Oct. 19 at Signal Hill Elementary School. Both workshops run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and are open to everyone. Audience members will have the opportunity to participate in a question and answer period after the panel presentations.

"We really want to encourage people to come to the forum as families," said Pemberton Mayor Elinor Warner.

"The dangers of crystal meth use is something people need to be aware of, and to sit down and discuss with their kids afterwards."

How serious a problem is crystal meth?

Last week, Premier Gordon Campbell announced a $7 million fund to raise awareness about the drug and increase treatment options for addicts of the super-charged amphetamine.

In a report released mid-September by the McCreary Centre Society it was found that 0.4 per cent of British Columbians had tried the drug.

Another report, issued by the Surrey School District last month, showed that 10 per cent of its 14,000 high school students had experience with crystal meth. Whatever the numbers are, it is undeniable that the drug’s damaging effects can be devastating.

The highly addictive drug is easily manufactured in home labs from easily accessible chemical compounds such as camp fuel, industrial acids, and cold medication. The resulting production by-products are so toxic that HAZMAT units are called in to dismantle the labs when police discover them.

Evidence suggests that crystal meth usage can result in irreversible psychosis and paranoid schizophrenia. Physical effects of the drug include vomiting and defecating blood, severe dental damage and dramatic weight loss. Meth-related deaths have been doubling annually in the province over the past three years.

The two forums are being co-produced by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Mount Currie Band and the Village of Pemberton. Each of the communities is eligible and will be seeking a $10,000 provincial community grant to further combat crystal meth.

"Crystal meth ruins lives," said Susie Gimse, Area C director for the SLRD.

"It's a horrible drug that no community is immune from, including ours."