The concept of having no borders and being open and welcoming to strangers and friends alike is simple and, in a perfect world, makes perfect sense.
Unfortunately, it is a less than perfect world, and drug dealers and users have a way of slipping across borders, abusing the spirit of friendliness and crashing down foundations built of trust and honesty.
Sgt. Mark Groves and the officers at the Rimbey RCMP detachment work tirelessly to keep drugs such as crystal meth out of the communities in which they serve, but like thieves in the night, these drugs get in, destroying innocence and finally destroying lives.
“We see it (crystal meth) here almost on a weekly basis,” said Groves. “We work hard at keeping it out, but it has found its way to Rimbey in the last few years.”
Groves notes transient workers often come to Rimbey, and those individuals, who are here today and gone tomorrow, can quietly make a drug deal and slip away, leaving only devastation in their wake.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easy to get, but it’s out there,” he said.
Crystal meth, also known as a designer drug, does not require specialty ingredients from foreign countries for its manufacturing. In fact most of its ingredients come from every day household items like lye, battery acid and lantern oil.
The drug can be produced anywhere; in mobile homes, in basements, even in motel rooms. Recipes for crystal meth can be accessed as easily on the Internet as a recipe for chocolate cake.
That fact alone makes the drug extremely dangerous.
“You never know who’s cooking it,” said Groves. “We have seized cooking equipment and recipes (from many different places).”
Some ingredients used to make meth are ephedrine, hydriotic acid, hydrochloric acid, lead acetate, drain cleaner, battery acid, lantern fuel, lye and anti-freeze.
Doesn’t sound particularly appealing, does it?
And to make matters even worse, drug dealers, anxious to make a fast buck out on the street may not worry about measuring exact amounts or even what ingredients they use. Some meth labs may even add urine from an addict, as up to 40 per cent of the methamphetamine can be filtered and reused in this manner.
Truly, there are no guarantees and the drug comes with no warning label attached.
Consequently, a meth user, desperate for a high, could end up with a bad overdose leading to permanent brain damage or death.
But still the deadly cycle goes on.
The allure of the drug pulls in people as young as 15, said Groves.
“And it is devastating what it does,” he added.
But the high! Oh, the high!
That first time the drug is injected can result in a burst of energy and a rush of euphoria. The user’s heart rate increases along with the body temperature.
Life is good. In fact it is better than good. It is wonderful.
Then comes the crash.
Coming off of meth is like going through the hell of an ultimate hangover. The user will experience dehydration, diarrhea, extreme fatigue and hunger. And then comes the depression and a keen desire to experience, once again, the beautiful, wonderful high.
But the next high is never quite as good, but, still it is a high and, worse, it is an addictive high.
“It is a highly addictive, dangerous drug,” said Groves.
Soon the user can think of little else. Food and sleep become less important and unhealthy rapid weight loss begins.
The story then goes from bad to worse.
The user can look forward to prolonged periods of increased blood pressure, heart disease, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of limb control, seizures and a rise in body temperature.
An addict will suffer hallucinations, paranoia, violent and erratic behavior and experience the horrible feeling that his or her skin is crawling with bugs.
And the body, once so receptive to the drug, will have built up such a tolerance that the methamphetamine that once produced such a powerful high, will provide little or no euphoria.
Meanwhile, with yet another addict to deal with, RCMP officers such as Sgt. Groves continue to deal with the trickle-down effect. Addicts steal cars, break into businesses, sell drugs or even their own bodies, just to get the money to buy the drug.
“Addicts will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support their habit,” said Groves.
The Rimbey RCMP, as with police officers everywhere, wages a constant battle against drugs such as crystal meth.
However, here in Rimbey the RCMP are joined by Rimbey Wellness Group and Rimbey and District Victim Services Unit.
Groves said those agencies provide a wonderful resource.
“The police do the enforcement work, but they help cast a broad net out there to help us fight drugs by providing education and support. We all work together. We all do what we can.”