Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 1, 2006
Tell crystal meth's story
Theology professor urges CWL women to offer spiritual support to drug users
"Crystal meth is the most addictive drug out there today."
- Rebecca Davis Mathias
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
The road to crystal meth addiction is a short one as the great majority of first-time users are hooked immediately, says Rebecca Davis Mathias.
And the fall from grace is just as sudden as the addict attempts to duplicate the initial high with repeated use. Ultimately, an increase in the amount of the drug is needed - with tragic consequences.
"Use of the drug is rampant and we are seeing an increase in crystal meth labs across the province. The drug is cheap and anyone can afford it," said Davis Mathias, an assistant professor of theology at St. Joseph's College.
Speaking to more than 200 delegates attending the annual convention of the Edmonton archdiocesan Catholic Women's League April 21-23 at St. Thomas More Church, Davis Mathias said people are desperate to feed their addiction.
"Crystal meth is the most addictive drug out there today. More than 99 per cent of first-time users become addicted."
She was the first of two St. Joseph's College professors to speak at the convention. Father Stefano Penna followed with a discussion of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The physical effects of chronic use of crystal meth are noticeable as the addict usually displays dark rings around the eyes and open facial sores. Teeth are blackened because the drug strips away the enamel. The body trembles. A person's mood is highly agitated and aggressive.
Worse is the spiritual impact. People turn against God and make the drug their false god. Families are destroyed. Children are removed from addicted parents and placed into foster homes, becoming "meth orphans." Some children display physiological deformities.
Davis Mathias showed a graphic video filmed in the United States that chronicled the emergence of the drug from its origins on the West Coast. Moans of compassion were heard continually from the CWL women during the video presentation.
Chose drug over son
One young man sat in jail saying his own mother had introduced him to the drug. "She chose the drug over me," he said.
Meth "super labs" could cook 45 kg of the drug in 48 hours, worth $4 million.
Because ephedrine is commonly used in over-the-counter cold medicines, powerful drug companies were successfully thwarting combative efforts by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Then the DEA officer decided to regulate the companies producing the components needed to make the drug, including manufacturers of common household cleaning products and decongestant cold medicines.
From that comes the growing attempt by pharmacists to regulate sales of products containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine by taking the products off the shelves and putting them behind the counter.
Davis Mathias encouraged the women to fight production of the drug by offering their spiritual support.
"It is suggested that parishes put information about chrystal meth into church bulletins allowing for greater access to more people about its impact. We can stop meth use in teens by becoming more involved in their activities and learning who their friends are; which adults are important in their lives. Discuss with them what is happening in the world. Become their friends," she said.
After his presentation, a CWL member asked Penna for the Church's position on ending a life when the brain is clinically dead and the body remains alive by artificial means.
He said the spiritual needs of the person and the family must first be met.
"Saying the body is kept alive is a problem. We should say 'it is continuing to respirate.' It is not euthanasia because you are not intending for the person to die. By all the signs, it is clear the person has died. And if they continue to breathe on their own, praise God," he said in an interview.
"It is key to place the person in God's hand saying 'We surrender this person to you.'"
Penna said there is a profound difference between surrendering a person to God and taking control over what happens to that person.