Kitchener-Waterloo

Meth seizures are down in Waterloo region but police say it's not a sign drug is on the decline

The number of meth seizures so far this year appear to be tracking lower than in previous years in Waterloo region. But Waterloo regional police say it's because of the service's focus on fentanyl and firearms, not because the drug is on the decline in the region.

'This is not an indication of decreased amounts of methamphetamine,' police say

Methamphetamine seizures are down so far in 2019, but police say that does not mean the drug itself is on the decline in Waterloo region. Instead, it's likely due to Waterloo regional police focusing on fentanyl and firearms investigations, Const. André Johnson said. (Joerg Carstensen/Associated Press)

Police have seized 414 grams of methamphetamine so far in 2019.

That number appears to be tracking lower than previous years. In all 2018, the Waterloo Regional Police Service's drugs and firearms unit seized 3,497 grams. That was up from 1,642 grams in 2017.

Const. André Johnson says the reason for fewer seizures may be due to the service's larger focus on fentanyl and firearms.

"While numbers may appear down, we want to be clear: this is not an indication of decreased amounts of methamphetamine," he told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

"Members of our drugs and firearms branch continue to focus on the illegal use and distribution of all illegal drugs throughout Waterloo region to ensure public safety."

Meth 'firmly established' in region

In Windsor, health officials say there's been a rise in meth use. The Erie Shores HealthCare reported it expects to almost double the number of emergency room visits related to meth use. 

Its data predicts 200 visits between 2019 and 2020 as a result of using crystal meth. That's up from 116 visits attributed to the drug between 2017 and 2018.

A 2017 substance use study by the Region of Waterloo found meth is among the top five drugs used in Waterloo region after cannabis and alcohol.

That report notes just over 10 years ago in 2008, "methamphetamines was emerging as a substance of choice for some groups" and now meth is "firmly established" in the region.

Of those surveyed for the 2017 study, 21.1 per cent of people who use drugs said they reported using meth or crystal meth.

The study notes people who use meth are more likely to use it daily or multiple times a week, tend to be more at-risk when it comes to income and housing and also tend to use riskier methods of taking the drug, such as injection.

The study made several suggestions to help curb drug use in the region, including helping more people find housing and connecting them to social services.

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