The graphic videos and photographs that accompanied Sgt. Toby Hinton’s presentation at the January 2013 meeting had many members covering their eyes. Striking images, many from his Odd Squad Productions, portrayed the trauma that drugs have on the physical appearance of the addicts that Toby meets daily on his beat through Vancouver’s Down Town East Side (DTES). These were very hard for many to look at. It was obvious; however, that this informative and eye-opening talk had a substantial impact on all who were fortunate enough to hear him. As Toby said “the answer to the drug problem lies more in education than it does in law enforcement”; we all “need to get engaged in kid’s lives”.
The talk detailed the three classifications of drugs:
- Stimulants (aka “uppers”) – e.g. Cocaine
- Depressants (aka “downers”) – e.g. Alcohol, opiates
- Psychoactive drugs (aka “sideways” drugs) – marijuana, LSD
Giving a breakdown of the 40-45,000 each year whose deaths are substance-related, Toby said that 82% die from tobacco, 18% from alcohol and 2% from illicit drugs. He described an addict as a person who is a constant user, has a high tolerance for the substance, goes into withdrawal if not using, and continues using in spite of knowing the negative consequences.
The number one thing that young males are in recovery from is cannabis but – the first abusive substance that they normally see is alcohol. Bad behaviour is modelled by the older generation. In answer to a question after his presentation, he said that he is not, personally, in favour of the legalization of cannabis because there is clear evidence that chronic marijuana use can trigger schizophrenia.
Video clips and photographs were powerful aids for Toby to show the impact of stimulants on the brain. One graphic image showed a young woman who had literally ripped tissue off her legs in a psychotic episode. The lack of quality control in street drugs also has a great impact upon users – most don’t know what they are actually putting into their system. For example, Toby mentioned, “70% of cocaine is mixed with Levamisole, a drug banned for human consumption in 2003”.
Toby ended with a plea for all in the room to engage in the lives of young people close to them. “How you live your life matters”, he said, “help youth find their interests and passion. Healthy activities and friends count. Have a plan – short term and long term – for your children and/or your grandchildren”.
His final message: HUGS NOT DRUGS!
For further information:
CBC documentary, The Down-side of High A documentary from The Nature of Things that explores the link between marijuana and schizophrenia.
PBS, Frontline, The Killer at Thurston High, An insightful documentary on Kip Kinkel, the 15 yr. old who killed his parents and two students, wounding 24 others.