I'll try to take 10 minutes, but as I'm sure you'll find out, I talk rather quickly and off the cuff.
In the Sarnia area, we've been experiencing an extensive problem with crystal methamphetamine for close to 30 years. Recently, due to the changes in the structure of how methamphetamine is used, delivered and trafficked, we have come across the delivery of crystal methamphetamine. Prior to that, historically we were an old-school liquid methamphetamine community affected by biker-type methamphetamine from California back in the early days, the fifties and sixties. The problem is that crystal methamphetamine has become stronger, obviously, and more addictive, and it allows different delivery mechanisms that are enticing to certain individuals.
The other thing with the drug that I find makes it attractive in this particular community is that we have a very blue-collar socio-economic makeup, and this is a cost-effective, affordable and easily accessible drug. The issue now is that we're starting to find out that it is easy to manufacture, and also, it is somewhat dramatized, I guess you could call it, or publicized more through commercialism and the Hollywood-type of exposure, which makes the drug more attractive and possibly allows people some peace of mind when they're taking it. For the most part, a lot of them don't even know what it consists of or how it's manufactured. When they hear the word “amphetamine” thrown into something, I think it gives them some sort of an idea that it's a pharmaceutical-grade type of drug that has been around for a long time.
Historically, we know that amphetamine has been around for over 200 years, for other uses and purposes, but certainly not to this extent, and it was never made up of these types of chemical compounds that we're seeing now, which of course are being closely regulated and controlled through amendments to federal acts such as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It controls a lot of these precursors and the chemicals themselves. In particular, pseudoephedrine was a big one we had problems with years ago, but now we're starting to find out that these individuals, through their own entrepreneurial skills or intense fortitude, tend to be able to manufacture the stuff on their own, sometimes in quick and easy quantities that are easily accessible.
These are not just the compounds that we see on a daily basis and are manufactured at a high level though organized labs. These are even the impromptu, unsophisticated uses in the development of crystal methamphetamine by individuals on the street and otherwise. That makes it more attractive to a different socio-economic group, too, and as was alluded to earlier, we see more and more that it's starting to affect a younger generation. Before now, it was reserved to a certain age group, the mid-to-late thirties into the fifties. Now we're seeing people as young as early or late teens wanting to experiment with the drug and quickly realizing that this isn't the type of drug you experiment with because it's so addictive. When they become addicted to this particular drug, they realize there's certainly no point of return for them once they get into the exposure, the symptoms and the side effects of this drug.
Keeping that in mind, this creates a whole new problem, because now we're dealing with other issues. We have our opioid pandemic, so to speak, in our own area here as well as nationally. However, from the standpoint of this city, we've traditionally been a meth community, prior to the opioid crisis evolving in the early 2000s. Still to this day we find out that people are starting to get involved in the crystal methamphetamine trafficking trade, where they're holding drugs out to be crystal methamphetamine but which we later find out test positive for fentanyl. There are things like that, where people are not doing their research and aren't interested in checking their source, so to speak, or attempting to identify the source or mechanism of the drug.
We just had an incident in Ontario close by here where drugs were held out to be crystal methamphetamine and tested positive for fentanyl. As anyone knows, if you have an amphetamine addiction and you throw opioids into the mixture, it's a recipe for disaster and we're definitely going to have overdose issues.
Locally here, we do have overdose issues, not just on opioids but in crystal methamphetamine. We're struggling right now with funding for our own detox rehabilitation housing here. We've been able to open up a seven-bed detox centre statically through our Bluewater Health hospital. However, we've been pushing for a 24-bed delivery system for several years and it seems like it's been caught up in some financial bureaucracy at the federal and the provincial level.
I know the local MP has certainly been an advocate for us and has certainly been pushing for the funding. I think we are going in the right direction here for identifying that crystal methamphetamine addition, methamphetamine addition in general, is very addictive and very volatile. It is a somewhat different scenario when we're dealing with people coming off the addiction or treating the addiction and trying to get them to some sort of realistic future off the drug. What we're having problems with right now is just getting them to some sort of detox program when we suggest to them that they have been seven days free of the drug and to carry on with therapy after that. That is where we're at right now; it's a very similar trend to other drugs that I alluded to.
It sounds like a lot of us are on the same page. The big thing right now is there is a spike in STIs in the community and in the county in general, and a lot of them are relative. One of the big side effects of amphetamine is some of the sexually active side effects that it does cause with the trend of the stimulant. With that in mind, it certainly segues into the fact that there are issues to deal with other than psychosis and the mental health issues we are dealing with as a direct result of the drug. There are also the other side effects that have to do with sexually transmitted infections. This drug is one of the few drugs that encourages sexual behaviour and can stimulate that as a side effect, indirect or otherwise.
From what I've heard so far anyway, we're all on the same page, even if we have different socio-economic backgrounds or different issues relevant to crystal methamphetamine or amphetamine in general, and I'll be interested to hear everyone else's comments.