A Montreal doctor is calling on the province to help curb what he says is a spike in the use of methamphetamine, or crystal meth – a highly addictive and neurotoxic street drug.
Dr. Réjean Thomas runs Clinique médicale l’Actuel, a clinic in Montreal’s gay village that specializes in caring for people with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Thomas wrote a Facebook post, published Tuesday night, in which he calls the issue an “emergency.”
In the last five years, Thomas says, the percentage of patients he sees at his clinic who are struggling with crystal meth addiction has gone from one to 12 per cent.
“We don’t know what to do. We’re desperate because this drug has very bad consequences for the patients we’re seeing,” he said.
“A few years ago, it was rare that we saw that kind of case. But now every day we have one, two or more patients that are affected by this drug and the consequences of this drug,” Thomas said.
‘We need more help’
He said many believe the drug is just recreational, but it is very addictive and people from all kinds of backgrounds and age groups fall prey to its effects.
Thomas said he believes it’s time for the province to step in and organize a campaign to educate people about the possible dangers associated with the drug.
“Right now it’s only an individual [response] – me, my nurse, some others – but I think we need more help,” he said.
Last month, the Quebec’s public health research institute, the Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ), published a message about crystal meth that said although its use should be monitored, it is not a popular drug among Quebecers.
Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that dissolves easily in water or alcohol and may be snorted, swallowed, smoked or injected.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, those who use the drug regularly over a long period of time can develop amphetamine psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and bizarre and violent behavior. Other effects include:
- Severe tooth decay (meth mouth).
- Meth “bugs,” or the feeling of bugs under the skin, leading to skin-picking and sores.
- Loss of appetite, weight loss.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.