Toronto braces for explosion in crystal meth use
With prices of crystal methamphetamine dropping and supplies increasing in Toronto, health officials there are bracing for an explosion of meth use, particularly among the city's gay residents and young people, the Toronto Star reports. The problem could quickly become uncontrollable, particularly since Toronto has no large-scale public education program to warn city residents of the dangers of meth use, according to city officials. The AIDS Committee of Toronto has set up a crystal meth task force and is preparing a series of posters to be placed throughout the city to urge meth users to practice safer sex and engage in other risk-reduction behaviors to help fill the information gap.
"Meth is starting to replace crack as the drug of choice in the downtown core," drug squad commander Dan Hayes told the Star. "The disturbing thing is that the physiological effects are far worse." Studies show the drug can make users hallucinate, become violent, and experience psychotic episodes as well as boost the risk for stroke, heart problems, and depression. Meth use also creates powerful sexual feelings and lowers inhibitions, which health experts say can put users at risk for HIV infection if they engage in unprotected sex while high on the drug.
Meth is quickly growing in popularity among the city's gay population, according to health experts. Christopher Hadden, a therapist at the Rainbow Services Program at Toronto's Center for Addiction and Mental Health, says he currently has about 25 gay male patients who are battling meth addiction, compared with just five such patients in 2003.