Last week in Fredericton, the same person overdosed on crystal meth twice within days, and two other people came across bags of drugs while walking around.
Fredericton Police Chief Roger Brown says the situations speak to what has become a troubling issue for the city and New Brunswick.
“It’s a sad call for a member to have to go to a tent site, under a bridge, behind a mall or in a house or in a flop house, and see yet another teenager overdose and not responding to NARCAN and dying. That’s not right…and it happened,” Chief Brown said.
“What we also find that is troublesome is that in the past when we used NARCAN, it worked and it worked well. Now we find that there are times when members have to use sometimes two or three doses of NARCAN to try and get the system or body to respond…and that in itself is telling. This means the product is stronger. This means it is more deadly. That means it’s probably mixed with ingredients we don’t know about.
Drugs have been on the rise for two or three years in the province.
An Atlantic Methamphetamine Strategy has been put together to take a regional look at the problem and investigate where it is made, how it is transported and who sells it.
It is suspected that at least some is heading to the Maritimes from Mexico and – depending on supply and demand – the price often fluctuates.
Chief Brown thinks price doesn’t matter as much, because once a person is addicted, they can do anything to get more.
This triggered an increase in crimes of opportunity – such as theft – in order for individuals to pay for the drugs.
Brown estimates that about 25-30% of the city’s homeless population struggles with methamphetamine addiction.
“It’s not good because no matter what we do from the point of view of the roof over your head…it’s a group of individuals who don’t function well in that environment, but we can’t follow, we have to find another way to do it and that’s where I think we have to go into special treatment centers, ”he said.
“Centres that are going to look after these people and get them out of this cycle of addiction and back into what would be considered a normal life – although once you get out of this cycle, your normal will be a new normal. . “
The long-term effects of the drug can include memory loss and brain damage, organ damage, and breathing problems.
According to the Atlantic Meth Strategy, 61% of users relapse within a year, even with treatment.
“It’s a diabolical drug,” said David Coon, leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick.
Coon says he’s noticed drugs are on the rise in his riding of Fredericton South and agrees with the chief – people need a place to go to clean up.
“We don’t have that in New Brunswick,” he said. “We don’t have that type of residential treatment that can be accessed quickly to help people quit crystal meth and make sure the services are there for them.”
The force would like to see more drug education and awareness in schools and in the community.
“I suspect some parents would probably see a bag of crystal meth in a room at home, a child’s room, and probably wouldn’t know what it is. Finding it in their pockets, and not knowing what it is. It shouldn’t be the case,” Brown said.
He would also like to see agencies involved in trying to help individuals work with the police on the issue.
“We have a lot of systems and processes in place that have good intentions, that do us no favors,” he said. “Privacy issues and inability to share information between agencies, when at the end of the day we are just trying to help that person.”
Last week, Fredericton police seized nearly $600,000 worth of crystal meth during a traffic stop, along with other drugs and weapons.
Chief Brown says he hopes it was a wake-up call for New Brunswickers, adding that drugs are “everywhere.”
“Unfortunately, when people go down the meth route…it’s a difficult route to follow. I think that’s where our systems are lacking. There are gaps in terms of help necessary for people who are already on this road, number one, because if they don’t make it they will end up suffering an untimely death… as a society we are better than this, we don’t have need to let that happen.