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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN ON: Signs Of Decline In Crystal Meth Use
Title:CN ON: Signs Of Decline In Crystal Meth Use
Published On:2012-01-05
Source:Sun Times, The (Owen Sound, CN ON)
Fetched On:2012-01-10 06:00:49

New "soft evidence" suggests the number of people addicted to crystal
meth in Grey-Bruce is on the decline for the first time, says a member
of a regional task force that is working to combat the problem.

Hanover Mayor Kathi Maskell, a Grey County representative on the Grey
Bruce Methamphetamine Task Force, was careful, however, not to
overstate the "encouraging" news, saying the decrease is likely only
"slight" and much more work needs to be done before a more significant
reduction is achieved.

"I don't want anyone to think we've licked this problem. Oh no, we
haven't. But for the first time ever we're seeing a decline," she said
during a break in a Grey County council meeting this week.

Maskell said in her community of Hanover, for example, which she
described as a "hot bed" for meth use, police are seeing fewer people
who are addicted to the drug. The Hanover police department has also
noticed a decline in the number of petty crimes such as theft that are
linked to crystal meth addiction, she said.

Maskell attributed the possible decline in part to the funding
provided by Grey and Bruce counties "" now set at $40,000 annually
apiece "" to combat the problem.

The task force, established in 2009 and comprised of Grey-Bruce
politicians, representatives from social services, health, addiction
and correctional agencies and local school boards, has used part of
the money to help launch a regional Meth Watch program that involves
educating employees at pharmacies and hardware stores to keep an eye
out for people who might be purchasing ingredients that could be used
to make meth.

The task force has also organized education sessions for parents and
youth about the dangers of meth and a workshop for police, paramedics,
firefighters and social agency workers aimed at helping them to spot
signs of meth use and production.

Terry Sanderson, co-chair of the regional crystal meth task force,
said he too has the "impression" that crystal meth use is on the
decline. However, he said it is nearly impossible to determine how
many people are addicted to the drug in the region.

Data is limited, for the most part, to the number of addicts who move
through the judicial or medical systems. Those statistics are
currently being compiled, he said, to give a clearer picture of the
extent of the problem in the region.

Information available indicates the prevalence of crystal meth use is
highest in the southern areas of Grey-Bruce, including the Hanover,
Walkerton and Durham areas.

The drug is cheap, dangerous but easy to produce. Products such as
cough, cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine or
ephedrine are typically purchased or stolen from retailers by
small-scale meth producers. Other items that may be used in the
production of meth include acetone, rubbing and isopropyl alcohol,
iodine, starter fluid (ether), gas additives (methanol), drain cleaner
(sulphuric acid), lithium batteries, rock salt and matchbooks.

Sanderson, the director of social services for Bruce County, said meth
is "extremely, extremely addictive and the long-term effects are quite
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