(From The Province: February 27, 2005)
In the fight against he menace of crystal methamphetamine, one B.C. community is being touted as an example for the entire country to follow.
The 73,000 people of Maple Ridge, led by their local Rotary Club, have embarked on a multi-pronged approach to battling the drug and the social havoc it wreaks.
The statistics they gather were alarming:
- A majority of the town's homeless people were addicted to the drug;
- property crimes there were committed by meth addicts; and
- Meth-related deaths in Maple Ridge, as recorded by the B.C. Coroners Service, totaled three in 2004 compared to zero in the four years prior.
So the Fraser Valley town moved quickly to establish a Crystal Meth Task Force.
On Saturday, teams of volunteers will fan out across the city in a groundbreaking bid to set up Canada's first "Meth Watch" program.
Len Garis, Surrey fire chief and a prime mover in the initiative, will educate retailers about the products they sell that are used in the illegal manufacturing of crystal meth.
Thousands of posters will appear in store windows, store employees will be issued information sheets and the various chemicals, tools and other products integral to the production of the crystal methamphetamine will be slapped with warning stickers.
Anecdotal evidence from American states that have tried a similar approach suggests that limiting access to ingredients can reduce the amount of the drug available on the street by as much as 25 per cents.
Municipalities across Canada will be watching Maple Ridge over the next six months as a coalition of national retail and drug-store organizations attempts to take the B.C. town's model countrywide.
Where to get help:
Kaiser Foundation - www.kaiserfoundation.ca
B.C. Partners for Mental Health - www.heretohelp.ca
Prevention Source B.C. - www.preventionsource.bc.ca
Early Psychosis Intervention - www.psychosissucks.ca
Narcotics Anonymous - www.bcrscna.bc.ca/meetings/listings
Covenant House - www.covenanthousebc.org
Crystal Recovery - www.crystalrecovery.com
Watari Youth Day Treatment Program - 604-438-3755p>
Family Services of Greater Vancouver - 604-872-4349p>
Narconon Detox Centre - 1-866-266-6616
Methamphetamine Response Committee - 604-736-2033