Blue Line

Moose Jaw committee looks to public education for crystal meth crisis

March 9, 2021  By Canadian Press

March 9, 2021 – A concerned citizens group in Moose Jaw is starting a public awareness campaign to tackle what it calls the city’s crisis of crystal meth addiction.

The group, called the Moose Jaw Crystal Meth Strategy Committee, is comprised of 11 people representing agencies that include the city’s police, social services, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), city council and the Moose Jaw Transition House, among other human service groups.

Project co-ordinator Mary Lee Booth said the committee is eager to get started, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to hit pause for 2020. The committee first formed in June 2019 after a popular open house earlier that year.

The committee’s first effort at public awareness is an anonymous online survey, asking participants to share what they know and don’t know about the drug. It’s live now and available until March 30 through Facebook and surveymonkey.

“We’re putting it out there for everybody. But we’re hoping it reaches parents and educators so they can have those conversations with their children,” Booth said. “Many people who try meth are hooked on it.”

Crystal meth is one of many slang words for methamphetamine, an illegal, synthetic stimulant drug that is highly addictive, according to Health Canada. It comes in powder, crystal or tablet form. Its high usually lasts for eight hours, but can extend to 24 hours.

Long-term use can leave a person with brain, liver or kidney damage, short- or long-term memory problems, loss of dexterity in hands and fingers and, among others, prolonged psychosis and/or paranoia.

Saskatchewan is in the middle of a drug overdose crisis. Coroners Service data projects 345 people died of drug overdoses last year, five of which were in Moose Jaw.

Of the confirmed overdoses in 2020, 93 involved methamphetamine, either solely or partially.

Booth acknowledged opioids in general and fentanyl specifically are playing a role in Saskatchewan’s drug addiction issues.

“Rarely is it just crystal meth, because it’s very commonly a piece that’s used in ? combining with other (drugs) too. That’s one of the dangers we want young people to know: Buying street drugs, sometimes you just don’t know what’s in it.”

Committee chair Devon Oleniuk, a superintendant with the Moose Jaw Police Service, said the last five of his 30 years on the police force represent a big jump in meth use in the city.

“Since 2015 to the present, it has a been on a steady, steady increase.”

Booth underscored the value of parents talking with their kids about drug use, especially well before they start experimenting with drugs as teenagers.

“Build opportunities with your kid throughout their lifespan where trust is built,” she said, reminding parents talking also means listening and not lecturing.

Booth said the committee is using public grant funding to do its work. She said money comes from the Community Initiatives Fund, via the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, and from the Civil Forfeiture fund.

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