Methamphetamine has been a problem in Prince Albert for some time, and an increase in arrests suggests the issue is growing.
“I know people who in the last year have lost 100 lbs,” Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) Sgt. Troy Dumont said. “I know people who have sores on their skin and it looks like their insides are coming out of their cheeks. It’s horrible and unbelievable what it can do to somebody.”
Recent statistics from PAPS show in the last six months, the number of 18 to 23-year-old male meth users arrested increased 130 per cent, from one arrest between Jan. and Aug. 2015, to 13 between Sept. 2015 and March 2016.
Arrests for two female age groups increased as well. From January to August 2015, nine women were arrested in the 18 to 23 age range, and two were arrested in the 24 to 30 range. From September 2015 to March 2016, 20 female meth users were arrested in both age ranges – a substantial increase from the previous year.
Seeing the data for himself, Sgt. Dumont said he knew he had to do something fast, so he partnered with Addictions Services and started the Community Crystal Meth Intervention Program. Together they hand out business cards to addicts which gives them a direct line to addictions services workers if they decide to kick their habit.
Sgt. Dumont said they can’t force people to get help if they don’t want it, but so far the program has been successful.
“The myth on the street is you can’t get off of (meth) once you’re on it, but you can. I know several people I’ve dealt with through work that were on meth and are now off. It’s ongoing recovery for the rest of their lives. It’s a chronic disease and (they) may always think about it for the rest of your life,” he said.
Since it was first introduced in the community 10 years ago, meth has moved from being an upper-class drug with an older user base to all classes and age groups.
“In my experience, it all starts with basic drug use,” Sgt. Dumont said. “Some people have that addiction they need to feed and they need the bigger high every time. Cocaine lasts a few hours, depending on the person, but crystal meth can give you a 12 to 18-hour high. It’s the difference people are looking for.”
Sgt. Dumont said almost all of the meth in Prince Albert comes from from bigger cities and larger crime rings.
“I’m not saying people don’t try, but there’s no big lab in town.”