The Emerging Issue of Cr Ystal Methamphetamine

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INTRODUCTION
Crystal methamphetamine
1
use among people in some First Nations communities (both
in Canada and the United States) has evolved
into an issue that is
requiring more and
more attention. Indicative of this, in July
of 2005, the Assembly of
First Nations (AFN
in Canada passed a resolution specifica
lly directed at this emerging issue.
)
f
2
As a result o
this resolution, the AFN has identified the n
eed for the development of a First Nations
National Task Force on Crystal Meth to deve
lop a Strategic Action Plan to Address the
Emerging issue of Crystal Meth in First Nations Communities. Generally speaking, this paper provid
es basic information about crystal
methamphetamine as well as information that is
First Nations specific.
The first part of
the paper discusses: what crystal meth is; who is using it; how it used; how it is made and; how it affects the body, mind, rela
tionships and the environment.
In Part II, interactio
ns between governments
3
(e.g.: health/drug strategies), large
pharmaceutical companies and organized crime
are examined (e.g.: production levels of
amphetamines). The role that these entitie
s play in activities
surrounding the production
and sale of crystal methamphetamine—with
an emphasis on issues related to First
Nations— is articulated. First Nations crystal meth treatment strategies are also examined.
Part III, aspires to put a ‘human face’ on the rising problem of crystal methamphetamine addiction in First Nations communities. Tala
Tootoosis’ (Plains Cr
ee/Nakota) story is
briefly stated and the crystal meth addicti
on situation across the
border on the Navajo
Nation is commented upon. These examples aim
to illustrate how crystal meth addiction
has negatively affected a First Nations indivi
dual and the devastating impact the drug has
had on one Native American community.
It is important to recognize from the outset of
this paper that crys
tal methamphetamine is
not a First Nations specific problem and s
hould not be perceived as one. Some
communities have a problem with it, while others do not. This does not, however, mean that communities and leadership should not
be proactive and on the forefront of this
emerging issue. This important obser
vation was provided at a workshop by the
prevention Awareness and Comm
unity Education (P.A.C.E)
team —based out of the
Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technol
ogy (SIIT). P.A.C.E was founded on the
principles that education a
nd awareness are key measures
in protecting First Nations
communities against the dangers of using crystal methamphetamine. Another important idea to consider from the out
set is that while the emergence and use of
crystal meth is a relatively new phenomenon
(i.e.: compared to other mind altering
agents), the issue of addiction is nothing ne
w. While it is important to focus on the
1
In this paper, crystal methamphetamine is be refe
rred to as: “crystal methamphetamine”, “crystal meth” or “meth”.
2
Please see
Appendix A
for the full content of this resolution.
3
This includes input from First Nations leadership.
2
specifics of how to most effec
tively deal with meth production a
nd use, it is also just as
important not to overly focus on it. For instan
ce, Michael Siever of the Stonewall project
in San Francisco notes that even with the
introduction of crystal methamphetamine into
the addiction picture, the crack cocaine problem is
still as prevalent as
ever (Huff, 2005).
Thus, just because crystal methamphetamine is now part of the ‘addictions picture’ does not mean addictive behaviours with regard to
other substances will magically go away.
Thus, effective holistic substa
nce abuse strategies should be
taken into consideration.
One such example is the work undertaken by
the First Nations and Inuit Mental Wellness
Advisory Committee of the First Nations and In
uit Health Branch - Health Canada. This
committee has...
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