N.B. health network launches crystal meth awareness campaign
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick's Horizon Health Network has launched a campaign aimed at educating people on crystal meth after the province has seen a sharp increase in use of the inexpensive and highly addictive methamphetamine.
Staff at Fredericton's Downtown Community Health Centre have noticed it too.
"I can say that crystal meth seems to be more prevalent than it was before," said Joan Kingston, the nurse manager at the Downtown Community Health Centre."I have a theory that it partly is because it's the cheapest type of drug that you can access. So many people who may have an issue with addictions and opiates would be their drug of choice, that's not within their reach, so crystal meth is what they turn to."
The health network is looking to increase awareness of crystal meth, a drug that can appear in pill form, snorted, injected or smoked -- and lead to violence.
Fredericton police have recorded a 33 per cent increase in the number of crystal meth possession offences in 2019.
Doctors are concerned too, calling the situation a crisis.
“In addition to the devastating health impacts it can have on individuals, this drug has contributed to violence and safety issues in hospitals, putting patients and health-care practitioners in danger," said Dr. Chris Goodyear, the president of theNew Brunswick Medical Society. "We need to continue to address the stigma surrounding addiction so that users will feel more comfortable seeking help.”
Amanda Diggins, the executive director of AIDS New B, is also concerned.
"We've seen a huge increase in our pipe usage, of the glass pipes that we use," Diggins said. "We don't know for all of our clients what they're using it for, but we do have more people saying that they are using meth and that they see that their friends are."
AIDS New Brunswick has become a safe place for people to access information, clean needles or pipes, should they need them.
In their Miramichi office, there's been a 678 per cent increase in demand for the glass pipes, compared to the year before.
But the executive director says she hopes the increase is because more people feel they don't have to hide their addiction.
"Just breaking down that stigma that people are going to use drugs, and we just encourage them coming in, being open about it, being able to get safe supplies as well as that educational component," Diggins said.
Staff at Moncton's detox centre have reported a 20 per cent increase in crystal meth cases.
Horizon health calls it a serious issue, and it's working to "better define treatment protocols."
It's not Just New Brunswick seeing this increase. Nova Scotia RCMP said today they've noticed an increase in crystal meth and other forms of methamphetamines too.