Families of meth addicts start support group for each other
Urgent plea from organizer: 'Meth is a different animal. It wants to take you. We really need help'
A Winnipeg artist is launching a support group for families affected by what she calls the "demon" of the drug world — methamphetamine.
"I believe that meth is a demon that has entered the bodies of our people through their blood, and it's ruining communities, it's ruining lives," said Jackie Traverse. "It's a different kind of animal ... and right now, there's no support for those of us looking for answers."
Addictions experts and justice officials have recently noted meth use in the province is soaring; in the first month of 2018, the Winnipeg Police Service seized more than six kilograms of meth, worth close to $600,000. That's more than half the amount police seized in all of 2017.
The high can last for days.
The drug — or withdrawal — can cause meth psychosis: when sleep-deprived users become paranoid, agitated and often violent.
Traverse decided to start the support group after the meth crisis started to close in on her. First it was her friend's daughter, who threatened her mother with a knife while under the influence.
Now, meth's taken over members of her own family.
Traverse reached out to Manitoba Moon Voices, a non-profit agency that supports Indigenous women and projects, and asked them for help in creating the support group. Their response was immediate.
"They said 'sure, we'll support you in any way," Traverse said. "Now my hope is to get help from our elders and our medicine people."
Support group a 'godsend'
Traverse hopes to hold weekly meetings starting in May; already, however, word of the group is getting out.
"It's a godsend," said Adam Leszkovich, whose sister is addicted to meth. "I plan to jump in head first. We're grateful."
The support group has also caught the attention of Tala Tootoosis, a Saskatchewan-based motivational speaker and consultant, who works with Indigenous communities about how to handle both the meth crisis and the meth addict.
She's also a former meth addict.
"I was highly addicted to meth to the point of three or four days no sleeping, no eating," Tootootis recalled. "People don't know how to deal with that."
Traverse hopes she'll share that insight with her support group.
"I could for sure talk from my perspective, I can speak from an addict's perspective," Tootoosis said.
The first planning meeting, to hammer out details of the support group, was scheduled for Thursday, April 19 at 6 p.m., at the Thunderbird House in Winnipeg.
Traverse said anyone can attend.
"Just show up," she said. "And let's start talking."
On April 25, the CBC is hosting a special "CBC Asks: Breaking Meth; What's needed to beat the meth crisis in Canada?" To preregister, click here.