This Tina isn’t your best girlfriend that you might be worried about. She’s something far more insidious and bears a bit of conversation. “Tina” is crystal methamphetamine, also called Crank … or Glass … or Ice … or Crystal … or Meth … or a variety of other street names. No matter the name anyone gives it, crystal methamphetamine can have devastating effects on the lives of those in its grasp.
Over 60% of 100 D.A.P. clients surveyed in March 2016 said they’d used crystal methamphetamine or that someone close to them had abused the drug. The impact of this powerful synthetic stimulant is so staggering that our Behavioral Health Department, whose services include addiction counseling, decided to jump in. The result was the Crystal Meth Action Team, formed last August to help meet this challenge among D.A.P.’s own client population.
The client-staff team collaboration has since launched a multi-faceted campaign, “Let’s Talk About Tina…” designed to tell clients that D.A.P. is a safe place to disclose meth use — promising “no rejection, no judgment, and no loss of benefits” for stepping forward. Recognizing the heavy online activity of those using the drug, the campaign knew a website might be a highly-effective engagement tool for those considering crystal meth recovery. The aptly-named TinaTalk.org has a home page displaying alternating messages like “We know what it feels like. There is power in one addict helping another.”
Video testimonials, from clients in recovery, can be seen on the website and will soon be playing on “D.A.P. TV” waiting room monitors throughout the agency. Flyers and business cards with resource telephone numbers are displayed on the desks of D.A.P. case managers. Wearing distinctive black T-shirts with “Let’s Talk About Tina …” on the front and TinaTalk.org on the back, members of the Team also make themselves available on once-monthly days when D.A.P. holds its Farmers Market and distributes food and transportation vouchers to all eligible clients.
“I think it’s safe to say that crystal meth use is epidemic in the Coachella Valley and at D.A.P.,” says Chief Clinical Officer Dr. David Hersh. “Our agency, known for treating the whole person, whether living with HIV or not, is duty-bound to address this challenge.”
Comments on the survey in March included: damaged or lost relationships; lost employment and housing; domestic violence; and missed doctors’ appointments and dosages of HIV medications. By missing doses, clients run the risk of becoming resistant to their medications.
Respondents said peer support, help for spouses and families of users, and referrals to 12-Step and other sobriety programs would be most helpful. And that’s exactly what the Team aims to provide, according to Ray Robertson, Manager of D.A.P.’s Client Wellness Services Center. “We’re not going to ferret out users and bring them to judgment day,” Ray says. “Instead, we’re opening doors to recovery.”