Going into 2020, Fisher and Teed discuss what changes need to be made in the New Year to effectively tackle the issue. Answers have been edited for space and clarity.
Allison Bamford: Saskatchewan is seeing a big jump in crystal meth addiction. What are we seeing in this in regards to policing?
Rand Teed: We’ve had a substance problem in Saskatchewan for a long time. Alcohol is still a big issue. One of the issues with meth is that it’s cheap and very, very accessible. And in lots of ways, it creates a lot more brain problems than other drugs do. So when people start using it, it starts really impacting their capacity to make reasonable decisions about stuff.
AB: It is a cheap drug to get. What are police seeing for why we’re seeing this increase?
MF: I think that’s one of them. The accessibility of the drug and the low price point. As well it feeds the addiction and the need to feed it. So we see an increase in crime. The other piece that’s really important, and we hit on it earlier, is the loss of inhibitions in many cases when they’re high on meth, and that’s led to instances where they’re not making rational decisions when they’re high. And we’re seeing an increase in police pursuits in many jurisdictions across the province, in many instances where we probably wouldn’t see that type of high-risk behavior in the past.
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AB: How is the rise in addiction changing the way you have to do your job in treatment?
RT: One of the things with meth, it really exasperates mental health issues. So if there are pre-occurring depression or anxiety issues, meth makes those a lot worse.
AB: Going into 2020, what are you hoping the government does to tackle the issue?
RT: One of the problems we’re seeing now is taking 10-20 days to get into a detox program, and then there’s a month break between detox and getting into treatment. We need some things in place to create a much more fluid continuum of care for everybody.
AB: What is the policing strategy going into 2020?
MF: One is the enforcement piece and trying to continue and tackle the trafficking of meth and the supply that comes into the province and working with the other police agencies to continue to address that and the increase of seizures we’ve seen in the past few years, and the successes in that front. The other second piece is around the psychosis and mental health piece, which we’re seeing significant increases across the province in all sizes of communities in a number of mental health calls that have a connection to meth use. So again, continue to take a compassionate approach and managing those situations and providing supports.