Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jan 2002
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Huntsville Times
Author: Laranda Nichols, Times Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Counselors Say Those Addicted To This Drug Most Difficult To Treat

SCANT CITY - Experts who have faced patients with cocaine, heroin and
other addictions told the Marshall County Meth Task Force on Wednesday
that methamphetamine is the most difficult to treat.

"I have never seen anything like this deal with meth," counselor
Randy Childers of the Family Life Center told the meeting at Brindlee
Mountain Middle School. "It is a sub-culture within a

Terry Nelson of Mountain Lakes Behavioral Healthcare said one problem
in treating meth addicts is the irreversible brain damage the drug
does after someone uses it two or three times.

Caustic chemicals like brake cleaner, ammonia, ethyl and grain
alcohol, lye and muriatic acid are used to make the stimulant, much of
the time in homemade labs set up in addicts' homes.

Nelson said a recent study showed meth users have more trouble with
recall, concentration and the ability to think quickly than cocaine
users. Another problem is that many meth users are misdiagnosed as
suffering from other problems.

"Many are paranoid schizophrenics," he said. "The first meth addict
I saw a few years ago was in an ER, a man who had attempted suicide.
He said the CIA was doing mind control experiments on him."

Not long after that he encountered two more meth addicts, he said, and
both complained the CIA was doing the experiments on them.

"Meth clients are the most difficult we have seen," Nelson said.
"Every one I saw last week said he made his own (meth). It is like
modern moonshine."

District Attorney Steve Marshall organized the task force of people
from industry, education, health care, law enforcement and other areas.

Since the group last met in early December, he said, his office has
handled 64 drug cases, 70 percent of them involving crystal meth.

Marshall has asked the task force to come up with some ways to fight
the growth of meth use.

A panel of educators told the task force about the programs they use
to combat drug abuse in the county's four school systems. Most agreed
that stiff penalties for having drugs on campus have helped but said
students still use drugs before and after school.

Instruction, school resource officers on campuses and other programs
help, but several superintendents said the solution eventually falls
back on the home. All say they encourage parental involvement but have
difficulty achieving it on a large-scale basis.

Arab City Schools several years ago hired a firm to survey students
about drug use. The system also gives drug tests randomly to about
half of its student athletes, said Superintendent Edwin Cooley.

Because peer pressure is a key cause of initial drug use, Cooley said,
students in the health occupations classes at the high school each
year go to speak to younger students about drugs. "That is positive
peer pressure," he said.

Coach and health instructor Laura Leak of Guntersville High School
said most students who talk about drugs mention meth and ecstasy.

"Kids will confide to me that 'he is on X' or meth," Leak

One task force member suggested a countywide survey to determine the
extent of the problem.

Charles Edmonds, principal of DAR High School at Grant, said the
school used to have a problem with drugs in school but now students
wait until after school hours. "At 3 p.m. they know where they can
go" to get drugs, he said.

Some at the meeting talked about holding town meetings to talk about
drugs with parents. But Cooley said such a meeting in Arab several
months ago drew only about 50 people and 40 or so of those were educators.
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