Undoing The Meth 

Undoing The Meth 
Posted by FoM on May 10, 2000 at 13:24:25 PT
Editorial By The Kalamazoo Gazette 
Source: Michigan Live
Busting methamphetamine labs is good, but we need to find out why people want to take the addictive drug. Southwestern Michigan has earned fame for its pharmaceutical production. Unfortunately, now this area is becoming known for another drug, methamphetamine.
Among 16 counties designated by the Michigan Office of Drug Policy as methamphetamine hot spots are Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties.We've known for a long time that the stereotype of illegal drug trafficking and use as solely an urban problem that plagues minorities is just plain false.In fact, a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, released this year, claims that eighth-graders in rural areas are 104 percent more likely than their counterparts in urban areas to use amphetamines, including meth, and 50 percent more likely to use cocaine.Ninety-nine percent of meth users are white, and the drug is popular with girls because amphetamines are an appetite suppressor.One Michigan State Police detective last year called it the worst drug he'd ever had to deal with and "one of the most addictive substances known to man." Police say meth addicts are extremely prone to violence and suffer acute paranoia. And some studies have shown meth to do more damage to the liver than crack.At a conference of the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals in Kalamazoo last November, it was reported that the presence of methamphetamine in southwestern Michigan has increased as much as 300 percent over the last two years.Southwestern Michigan has become so well known as a center for methamphetamine production that Michigan's drug czar, Darnell Jackson, came to Kalamazoo this week to unveil the state's Methamphetamine Action Plan, which is intended to increase law enforcement training and public education with the aim of busting meth lab operators.Last year, 14 methamphetamine labs were raided in Michigan. Seven more labs have been found in Michigan so far this year.But Kalamazoo County Sheriff Thomas Edmonds is correct when he says that law enforcement is primarily a reactive response to the drug problem.We applaud police efforts to track down methamphetamine labs, destroy them and charge lab operators. We hope police can keep methamphetamine from being the problem here that it has become in Missouri, California, Illinois and Indiana.But we also know that as long as young people want meth, new labs will spring up. If we've learned anything about this nation's war on cocaine producers in Colombia, it's that as long as America's hunger for cocaine continues, someone somewhere will help feed it.Trying to discover why people, especially children, want to take drugs has been an all-consuming task for those on the front lines of the war on drugs. Using the stick approach - throwing drug-users in prison - is not especially successful. The portrait of the young drug user as a person without hope for the future, without opportunities, without parental guidance and without self esteem doesn't seem to fit with the image of rural teenagers.Perhaps we still don't understand all the factors that drive young people to drug use. Perhaps we don't have an accurate picture of what life is like for rural teens.But we need to find out why people want meth and what we can do to change that.Otherwise, no matter how many methamphetamine labs get busted, plenty of others will crop up in their place.Published: Wednesday, May 10, 2000Copyright 2000 Michigan Live Inc.Related Articles:Authorities Focus on New Monster--Methamphetamine Midwest Meth Seizures Expose Rural Drug Epidemic Use Expected to Skyrocket in Indiana
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