Crystal Meth destroys lives

-These are some stories of everyday people whose lives were shattered by Crystal Methamphetamine

Samantha Mathers

16-year-old Samantha Mathers lives in Kamloops with her mother. She was just 13, an eighth grader, when a friend introduced her to crystal meth. She was hooked almost immediately. And over the next three years, her young life unravelled.
One of the reasons she loved crystal meth was that, as a stimulant, it helped a chubby teenager lose weight. "When I started getting skinny I started to get a lot more attention. And I loved it. Everybody loves attention. And then I started to look like a junkie." But once she'd started, the high was so great; she couldn't wait to do more.
Like most hardcore users, she snorted it and she smoked it. Ultimately she learned to do something called parachuting: swallowing crystal meth in a rolling paper. Then Sam soon discovered the high is always followed by a brutal low.
Binges without food and sleep eventually give way to irritability, depression, and psychosis. Users become paranoid. They hallucinate. Clinically, they're psychotic.
Sam remembers well the night she overdosed on meth after a nine-day binge. "I did a five-point parachute on like the ninth day and I ended up outside in the rain. I had frost-bitten feet. I was talking to people I thought were there but they weren't there. My grandma I guess saw me outside and she called my mom and she came to get me at 3:30 in the morning. "
Today, Sam doesn't go anywhere without makeup to hide the scars she got by "tweaking" on crystal meth. Users often hallucinate that their skin is crawling with insects, so they pick obsessively at their skin.
Days before her seventeenth birthday, Sam finished a local crystal meth treatment program for young people called "Meth Kickers."
After three years on the drug, she is one month without. Her battle continues. "When I have a craving I think about what I want my future to be like and I'm thinking a junkie will not get that far in life."



Jay Siemens

In a garage behind his mother's Kamloops home, Jay Siemens performs what has become a daily ritual: smoking crystal meth.
Jay has been addicted for more than five years. He's tried quitting, even cutting down, but each time his body - and his friends - drag him back to the drug he's now convinced he can't live without.
"Since I've been a daily user, if I have a bag in my pocket, then I can sleep at night. But if I don't have any then I'll go out for the whole night until I get some."
He says he gets no pleasure from it any more. The little buzz the drug still gives him is what he now needs just to get through the day.
Jay's last attempt to get off crystal meth lasted less than a week
He and his addiction counsellor have come up with a new plan to help him regulate his use. To anyone else it would all seem pretty ordinary, but to Jay even this will be a challenge.
His plan: Sleep every night. Eat meals at mealtime. And smoke crystal meth just twice a day: in the morning and mid-afternoon. If he smokes any later than that, he won't sleep.
But after four days on his new plan, Jay went on a binge. And now, even he finds it hard to hope. "I have a good heart. I don't rip people off. I don't intentionally hurt people. I have so much more potential but I'm slowly drifting further and further away from it."

Amanda Canaday

Mary Ann Canaday and her daughter Amanda live in the town of Barriere, 45 minutes north of Kamloops. It's a place that feels like it should be impervious to big city problems. Yet, in recent months, Barriere has discovered that crystal meth is there too.
Last November, Mary Ann started noticing changes in her 16-year-old, but she didn't suspect drugs - at first. She had never even heard of crystal meth. "I thought well maybe it's just hormones, not getting along with other kids, and just being a difficult teenager. And then when I saw how much weight she lost, I knew that I was in serious trouble."
Amanda was introduced to the drug by a childhood friend. Soon Amanda, one of Barriere's star athletes, was hooked. She started sneaking out of the house to get high. "I'd look in the mirror and I could see that my face was all sunk in. My personality changed. I just wasn't the person I was before," remembers Amanda.
The first time Amanda snuck out, Mary Ann found her at a friend's place. The second night, she couldn't find her at all. It wasn't until the next afternoon that she finally tracked her daughter to a house widely known in town as a place kids go to do drugs. "She was totally messed up. I couldn't believe it was her looking like that."
As distraught as she was, Mary Ann was also determined that Barriere had to wake up. Her child was not the only one doing crystal meth. She knew that.
So she did the only thing she could think of. She drove to the local newspaper office and pleaded with the editor to run a story. "I had to tell my story that this, my child from any town Canada got access to a drug that can kill you. And when they're addicted it just gets worse and they just cannot be happy anymore."
When Mary Ann's story hit the front page, Barriere was in shock. It's not that the community of 5000 didn't know it had issues with drugs. Marijuana grow-ops have been an industry there for years. But now there was a more damaging drug in town, and teenagers were using it.
Amanda is clean now, but she's still struggling to stay away from the drug and attends a rehab centre in Kamloops for treatment.

Jake Wilson

Jake remembers the first time he saw the army people. High on crystal meth, he was well into his third day without sleep. Along with the boundless energy and heightened sense of alertness came the mind-bending hallucinations.
"One day I was so delusional... There were these trees on top of this overpass, and they looked like army people, dressed up with guns, marching down," the 19-year-old says between faint smiles and sips of strong coffee. "It was in the middle of the day, and I asked this truck driver, 'What's with all those army people?' He just looked at me. He was, like, 'What?' It was actually fun for me. I enjoyed the hallucinations."
But Jake started to notice that those visions kept happening even when he wasn't using meth, aka speed, glass, jib, crank, shards, and peanut butter. That's when he started getting scared.
"When the symptoms don't go away after you do it, it's no fun. That's when you know you're kinda hooped.”
Jake is sitting in a hotel coffee shop in Tsawwassen on a deadly hot summer morning. He's just called local psychiatrist Bill MacEwan, asking for a refill of his antipsychotic and antidepressant medication. He'll take anything to counter the paranoia and delusions that continue to poison his thinking. Jake wasn't always so anxious. But that was years ago, before he started using crystal meth.
The soft-spoken youth started using cocaine when he was 13. He switched to meth at 16, looking for something more powerful, a high that would enable him to stay up for parties that lasted days. That's one of meth's draws: you don't sleep. Then there's the hallucinatory effect. Jake would think a group of people was standing in front of him. He'd walk up to them, only to see the figures dissolve before his eyes into the bushes they really were.
Wearing a baseball cap, baggy pants, and loose shirt, Jake shifts his tired chestnut eyes away when he talks about his methamphetamine addiction. He doesn't want his name printed, although his parents and friends are well aware of the dark place he's in.
"The paranoia kicked in," Jake says. "I'd be so lonely and paranoid. It was a horrible feeling....I'd be looking out my window every five minutes to see if someone was out there. The trees I had always seen looked like people. I was so freaked out one night; I swear to God there were people out there. I hopped out my window in my boxer shorts looking for these people. I couldn't find them, so I got dressed and walked around the block looking for people in bushes. Thank God my parents caught on."
Meth is an extremely dangerous drug. It's cheap, highly addictive, easily accessible, and can be made at home, providing you have toxic chemicals like Drano and battery acid on hand. It can cause structural changes to the brain and induce psychotic symptoms that resemble those of schizophrenia: paranoia, disorganized thinking, delusions, and impaired memory. In some people, those effects will never go away, even long after they stop using.

Brenda David

Brenda, a 27-year-old, Native American female, arrived at Lame Deer Clinic Emergency department at 10:30 pm, after her mother found her lying unconscious and choking on her saliva. At the initial evaluation, the nurse noted the following symptoms. Brenda’s pupils were dilated, and her temperature was extremely high. Her blood pressure was abnormally high, and her heart rate was extremely fast. During the initial evaluation, the doctors immediately ordered fluids to be given to rehydrate her. The doctor then stimulated the contraction of the blood vessels with a machine to increase her blood pressure. At 11:00 pm, while Brenda was being transferred by Help Helicoptor to Saint Vincent hospital in Billings, she began to show signs of a heart attack. The inflight emergency team desperately tried to revive the woman by administering CPR. The effort was successful. After the helicopter arrived at Saint Vincent, a doctor inserted a tube into the Brenda's vein. Through this tube, a drug was given to control her abnormal heart rate. A nurse checked her blood pressure again, but it was still high. Brenda was then transferred to Intensive Care. About two hours later, she suffered another heart attack. This time, doctors and nurses were unable to revive her, and Brenda died. Following a urine analysis, lab technicians detected that she had ingested a lethal dose of methamphetamine.

Michal Behring

Police say son of former Seahawks owner died of overdose. In SANTA ROSA, Calif. - A drug overdose killed the son of a prominent developer, according to Sonoma County Coroner's Sgt. Will Wallman. Michael Behring, 52, died Nov. 18 in police custody after being arrested in Santa Rosa. The coroner's report indicated he had a lethal amount of methamphetamine in his body. Behring was the son of Ken Behring, a former owner of the Seattle Seahawks and the developer of the exclusive Blackhawk subdivision in Contra Costa County. Sheriff's deputies stopped Behring after seeing his car weaving on Highway 101. He was arrested after officers found a warrant charging him with failing to appear in a Contra Costa County court on a traffic violation. At the jail, a nurse recommended that he be taken to the hospital. He died at Sutter Medical Center about three hours after his arrest. Tests showed he had 26.8 micrograms per litre of the drug in his blood, Wallman said. The drug becomes potentially lethal at 0.2 to 0.6 micrograms per litre, he said.

Philip Brown

My cousin Phillip has resided in the Clarke Institute for eight months. He wanders the halls disrobing, dumping meal trays on himself and screaming. When he isn't hostile, he's confused. Occasionally, he has lucid moments, but they're cruelly fleeting. And it's all because of crystal meth. Phil was a preternaturally wise child. He got the highest marks in western Canada for mathematics in grade eight, and in March was finishing his second year honours in physics despite a fervent passion for theology. He also had a long history and affection for altered states of reality. Little did my uncle realize what a Pandora's box his eighth-birthday chemistry set would turn out to be. It laid the groundwork for a future home lab where he would combine cold medication; drain cleaner and Epsom salts to get him and his buddies high. Like most of my peers, I've smoked pot and laughed my head off at Reefer Madness. We rolled our eyes at the stories of kids who dropped acid and thought they could fly. We knew the truth about pot, acid and mushrooms – that the worst that could happen was a bad trip. You might have a heart attack on cocaine, shut down your respiratory tract on heroin, and wind up having your stomach pumped with a gutful of booze. But you wouldn't lose your mind. Then crystal meth came along, appropriately called ice since it's easy to make in the privacy of your own kitchen: thousands of recipes on the Internet, ingredients from the drugstore and hardware store, and a lab that can fit into a knapsack. When I phoned Phil the week before his breakdown (what they're calling a psychotic episode), he sounded expansive, gregarious. He said he hadn't slept for two weeks, which I took for plain exaggeration in the face of upcoming exams. Then his best friend and roommate was hospitalized with an apparent nervous breakdown, and a few days later my aunt called to say Phil was there, too. We figured it was a plot concocted by the two of them, a last-minute ploy to get their exams deferred. But when his delusions escalated, it became obvious that this wasn't the case. He admitted to being a crank addict, and the truth slowly
emerged when we packed up his belongings at his shabby bachelor in Kensington Market, the state of which was beyond disgraceful and littered with paraphernalia. No food, textbooks pushed far under the soiled bed, sheaves of dreadful drug-induced poetry that would make Coleridge twist in his damp grave. Pure crystal meth is the prescription drug Desoxyn, but that isn't what's sold on the street. The latter contains any combination of hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, battery acid, lye, lantern fuel, antifreeze and Ritalin, as well as the necessary phosphorus (from fertilizer) and
pseudoephedrine (from cold and sinus medications such as Sudafed).

The resulting euphoria is like bungee-jumping, but it lasts for hours and, as with cocaine, users binge for up to weeks at a time.Phil's last binge lasted three weeks. He didn't sleep and didn't eat. His body didn't give out, so his brain did. He screwed up his neurotransmitters and severed the hard wiring that keeps the brain intact. I wonder if anything will ever make it right again. Hawaii drug treatment centres are reporting that for the first time more ice addicts are being admitted than alcoholics. The main U.S. government drug Web site says meth "can produce psychotic symptoms that persist
for months or years after an individual has stopped taking the drug." But this is a major understatement. Phil's doctors see little hope of recovery. I had a heart-to-heart with my own GP about Phil. She said that this has become a national crisis, that the medical profession is seeing thousands of young people who have snapped "and are not just insane, but aggressive and violently so." I begged her for any hope at all. She thought long and hard. "Well, they make excellent anti psychotic medications now. If he keeps taking them," she added. "Forever?" "Yes." "But he was normal," I cried. "He was better than normal." "I'm sorry," she said. Phil, modest, soft-spoken, gifted Phil with his bookcase full of trophies, his parents' only child, spends the time when he isn't sedated loping down the ward punching himself in the face and masturbating in front of his mother. He spouts obscenities and barnyard-noise litanies. Except for his parents, he isn't allowed visitors any more. Which is OK because, sadly; few can bear to go

Meth kills....Even Toddlers

You see, I lost my three-year-old daughter to this drug. My brother and sister-in-law were babysitting her while I went to a doctor's appointment. Instead of watching her, they were smoking crank in an upstairs bedroom. She was two blocks away from their house and was struck and killed by a car. This drug is an epidemic. I live in Washington State and currently know many people who use this drug. My stepson, who is in jail right now, because of stealing a car on crank, is so into the life style. My husband and I are trying to save him from himself but he has a mother who is on crank and does not condone his behaviour and who has been hiding him out for the last three months. We finally found him and had him arrested. We don't want to lose another child to this disease.