Crystal meth responsible for added pressure on health services, says Director

By Nigel Maxwell
November 1, 2018 - 5:00pm

The Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, says from a health services perspective their concerns with crystal meth parallel those of police.

Tracy Muggli was asked to respond to a recent report which identified crystal meth use as being on the rise across Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. A Saskatoon police officer was quoted in the report saying usage has reached epidemic levels in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. Muggli said the addictions workers work closely with police and said one of the challenges they encounter when dealing with crystal meth users in the hospitals or detox centres, is behaviour management.

"If someone presents and is for instance high on crystal meth we sometimes have to modify our approach to how we address that person especially if there is increased aggression associated with it," she said.

Muggli said often people who are using crystal meth, are addicted to more than one substance, so a treatment can be very complex. A provincial working group was created to address that treatment concern. Muggli added someone who wants to get high, can access crystal meth for around five dollars a hit. That's one of the factors she thinks is behind an increase in youth using the drug.

"One of the reasons is that it is cheap and another reason is that it creates a different kind of a high for people that I think may attract kids. It creates a sense of euphoria and the high lasts longer than other drugs," she said, adding youth are putting the drug into their bodies without knowing what exactly it is or what it can do to them.

When asked what specific goals or targets the working group set, Muggli said they need to look at all aspects of how to manage someone who presents with crystal meth, both from a behaviour management point of view and from a safety perspective for mental health workers. She added additional training will likely be required to enhance the clinical approach in terms of treatment and counselling.

"We're getting close to defining what those approaches are and our next piece of work will be to figure out how to make sure we have people properly trained," she said.

Muggli added the Saskatchewan Health Authority will also be looking at ways to spread awareness and increase education about the drug.


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On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell

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