Methamphetamine represents another ongoing trial for Saskatchewan

The grand opening of the new St. Joseph’s Addiction Recovery Centre in Estevan this September was encouraging for those suffering from addictions, particularly crystal methamphetamine and other life-threatening substances such as fentanyl.

Crystal methamphetamine (known as crank, jib, pookie and a host of street names), has a leg up over fentanyl, as the inexpensive drug is uncomplicated to manufacture.

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Dale Eisler, Senior Policy Fellow for the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy wrote “In terms of the total Canadian population, the reported level of crystal meth use appears relatively small. For example, in 2015 a survey by the Canadian Centre on Drug Use and Addiction found that 59,000 Canadians admitted to having used the drug, or about 0.17 per cent of the population.”

However, Eisler noted there was a 590 per cent increase in possession incidents between 2010 and 2017, further reporting a hit of pure meth in Saskatchewan was priced at figures nearing three dollars. 

Regina Policy Chief Evan Bray said crystal meth is the drug of choice for gangs in Saskatchewan.

Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper agreed with Bray. “Crystal meth is different than what we face with other drugs. It is so ubiquitous and so present, because it is so cheap,” Cooper stated in Eisler’s paper.

Meth factories utilize a variety of substances when this poison is fabricated. Ephedrine/pseudoephedrine is an ingredient in various cold medications and in some diet aids. Acetone, another component, is derived from paint thinners, nail polish remover and other chemical products. Anhydrous ammonia is a substance originating in cleaners and fertilizers. Hydrochloric acid extracted from drain cleaners is used in crystal meth production as well as iodine – a constituent in topical medications.

The combination is toxic and addictive, whether ingested or smoked. 

The television program Breaking Bad starring Bryan Cranston mythologized the use of crystal meth.  

This bloodthirsty but popular show on AMC continued from January 2008 to September 2013. A high school chemistry teacher with stage-three lung cancer and money problems gets sucked into a world of vice and crime, as he produces and sells the drug with a former student (played by Aaron Paul).

The world of meth is a merry-go-round of elation, anger, rotting teeth, paranoia, sleeplessness, aggression and more.

In the good times, meth gives users intense body rushes of dopamine, flooding sections of the brain known for regulating pleasure.

Two neighbours in East Vancouver in the early 2000s were meth-heads. They partied in days batched together and mixed with half weeks of sleep to make up for 70 hours of chatter and roaming streets at night. They ate junk food, shouted threats and played drum 'n’ bass throughout the days when they weren’t sleeping.

Once, a neighbour ran outside of her home with a tray of Drano, cold tablets and housecleaning supplies after hearing members from the Vancouver Police Department were arriving.

I can understand why Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam suggested decriminalization of hard drugs should be introduced. She said increasing access to safer drug supplies and having supervised consumption sites would reduce opioid deaths. I assume these sites would allow for meth use too, but this drug is more accessible and harder to control than fentanyl.

Yet, Dr. Tam also said different approaches should be considered for addictions as opposed to decriminalization, realizing there’s no silver bullet in tackling dependencies on hard drugs, especially meth.

Everything about quitting this drug (and other addictions) is up to the individual.

Rehabilitation only works whenever users want to quit the whirlwind.

Yet, long-term addicts to meth have increased their regular dosages, making withdrawal nearly impossible.

Law and order tactics mixed with harm prevention might control the dealers and suppliers of opioids, but the meth network is less extinguishable with a product that's cheaper and easier to produce.