Greg Linklater says he’s a simple man. The Thompson, Man., native wears old hoodies and hats, like many of his friends at The Lighthouse supported living centre. He’s quiet and says few words. Instead, he writes down his thoughts and stories in a journal he's kept for years.
Linklater's pain is crystal methamphetamine. He started smoking the stimulant drug 25 years ago after a death in his family.
"In 1992, my brother died in my arms and that was the most traumatic thing I went through and I couldn't take it,” he sighed. “Then I bumped into meth and that's when everything changed."
Linklater says he started off by drinking heavily, but it wasn't enough to take away his emotional heartbreak. His grandfather later passed away, leading Linklater to smoke meth and eventually start injecting it to take away his pain.
"It keeps you calm. It relaxes you. Then, after the relaxation is over, you want more and more. After that you'll do anything for it,” Linklater said.
The Lighthouse's frontline manager, Leanne McIntyre, hopes to help people struggling with addiction. She says a high majority of Lighthouse clients have a hard time coping with mental health and addiction problems.
"At the end of the day, addiction and mental health is not choosy. It's not just poor people or Aboriginal people that have issues. It's everybody,” McIntyre said.
In Saskatoon, just about everybody can get their hands on crystal meth. Carmen Schick has lived on the streets for more than a decade and says it's about as easy as ordering a pizza.
"You can make a phone call and it could be here in 15 minutes," she said.
Schick struggles with addiction, but she says meth is one drug she will always avoid.
"I don't understand the drug because of what it does and who does it and what happens to them and how they become," Schick said. "I've buried numerous friends already because of crystal meth."
In fact, addiction consultant with the Saskatoon Health Region, Peter Butt, says 10 per cent of meth users are addicted after trying it for the first time and more than 30 per cent of patients in Saskatoon rehabilitation centre are for methamphetamine alone. Butt noted that a single dose will rapidly increase one's heart rate, will constrict blood vessels and then increase blood flow to the brain resulting in the release of dopamine.
Butt says dopamine gives the body a euphoric sense of great pleasure.
"Some people's brains respond to it in such a way that they keep on going back to it repeatedly and, of course, with additional exposure, people may develop an addiction with it as well," he said. "We're not talking about people who are deliberately bingeing. We're talking about people who have lost control over the substance and they're struggling to regain control of their life."
According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, amphetamines release about five times as much dopamine as morphine and three times as much as cocaine.
As for Linklater, he's turning the page on his meth addiction and continues to write in his journal as a way to cope with his past. He warns others about the dangers of meth and all the trouble it has caused him throughout his life.
“They say it's a good time, but it's an addiction just like anything else."
http://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/the-madness-of-meth-struggling-with-addiction-1.3666216 November 7th, 2017
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