‘Meth has become the new alcohol’: Experts say more resources needed to cope with crisis
Winnipeg is in the midst of a methamphetamine crisis.
For months, Winnipeg police have said the drug is at the centre of most crime around the city.
Now, after Windy Sinclair, a 29-year-old mother of four, was found frozen to death on the street, experts are issuing a warning: if more resources aren’t added to help fight the meth crisis, deaths are going to become more frequent.
“There’s going to be many more deaths at the rate we’re going before we wake up to this,” Marion Willis, founder of St. Boniface Street Links said. “Meth has become the new alcohol and that’s the generation we’re living in now.”
Willis opened the non-profit organization in August 2016 and said of the more than 100 clients it has helped, all but five were addicted to meth.
“This is part of mainstream, middle class society. They’ve lost everything. Their property, all their assets, their relationships, their source of income,” she said. “Now the are the new poverty group relying on welfare to support them.”
It’s exactly what happened to Shane, a recovering addict.
“I lost pretty much everything,” he told Global News. “I went from living in a house to, shortly there after, living on the streets and out of a backpack.”
While Shane has spent years fighting his addiction, it’s one others haven’t been able to.
On Thursday, Windy Sinclair’s mom, Eleanor, told Global News her daughter was taken to Seven Oaks General Hospital in an ambulance on Christmas Day when she was hallucinating and high on meth.
“The physician issued orders for tests and Ms. Sinclair was awaiting those results when she left some time before 11:15 p.m. The health record indicates that the patient was not in the treatment room when the physician returned and a search was conducted for her on the premises,” the WRHA said in a statement emailed to Global News.
It was days later she was found.
Willis said it’s a problem she has seen many times. Drug users who are in a state of psychosis often end up in the emergency room because there is no where to go.
“The truth is there is no place to take the person,” Willis said. “The Crisis Response Centre won’t take someone in drug psychosis, Martha Street won’t taken them, the hospitals won’t take them. There are no resources. No one is falling through the cracks. You cant fall through the cracks of a system that doesn’t exist.”
Willis said the province needs to come up with a new approach and it needs to start with opening a Drug Stabilization Unit that has psychologists, doctors and mental health professionals. It would be a place where people suffering from drug induced psychosis would go to detox. Then they need transitional housing afterwards to help start to readjust them back to mainstream life.
“We have what has really become a meth crisis in this city and in a city and a province that is not equipped at all to deal with this,” Willis said.
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