The health authority is one of nearly 30 organizations working together in the Safe Community Action Alliance (CSAA). The group has been working since 2017 to improve issues affecting city residents, with the top two being the crystal meth epidemic and the other housing options.
“Crystal meth is a very addictive drug. It acts on dopamine in the brain, that’s the pleasure point and so people like the high. The other factor is that it’s very cheap,” Muggli said.
Over the last five to six years, the health authority has seen a “wave” of crystal meth. The last influx was back in 2006-07.
“Almost half of the people that present to our services, present as crystal meth users. It used to be around five to ten percent, five to six years ago. That’s a significant increase,” Muggli said.
Since mid-2018 CSAA has been mapping the client experience of using crystal meth, identifying gaps in their care, and assisting interventions.
“We’re learning that treating people with crystal meth addictions is very difficult. We have to adjust our programming so that people can stay for a longer period of time in treatment,” Muggle said.
She adds that people need time to sleep and recover. Often addicts who come into detox have been up for five or six days straight.
“One thing we know about crystal meth is that it depletes dopamine levels in your system and that can lead to depression and suicidality.”
“We’ve had to be very flexible in our treatment programs and how we address length of stay.”
“It can take a while to develop a desire to live and improve quality of life.”