Pubdate: Fri, 06 Feb 2004
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Christopher Schwarzen
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (McCaffrey, Barry)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


EVERETT -- The stereotypical drug user is no longer a middle-aged man with 
rotting teeth and a lengthy criminal rap sheet, said former national drug 
czar Barry McCaffrey.

Instead, it's becoming teens like those in Snohomish County and other parts 
of the country.

McCaffrey, retired Army general and director of the White House Office of 
National Drug Control Policy during the Clinton administration, spent most 
of yesterday trying to steer the very people in that at-risk category away 
from drug use during the third annual Snohomish County Youth Meth Summit. 
The summit, held at the Everett Events Center, was sponsored by the 
Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and local anti-drug group Lead on America.

McCaffrey told an estimated 1,000 Snohomish County students that no drug is 
cool. He especially couldn't figure why anyone would ever use 
methamphetamine -- also known as lith, crank and ice.

"It is the damnedest thing we've ever seen," McCaffrey said. "Meth is like 
a blow-torch. One month of use can cause major physical damage to the brain."

The drugs may have changed since the late 1960s, when McCaffrey was a major 
in the Army, but the devastation is the same.

"I never got involved in drug use," McCaffrey said. "But I saw people dead 
on the latrine floor from heroin overdoses, or six or seven soldiers at a 
time passed out in a pool of vomit from too much alcohol."

McCaffrey, who was the most highly decorated and youngest Army four-star 
general when he retired in 1996, was the keynote speaker during the summit, 
which was created three years ago in response to the county's growing 
methamphetamine problem. The County Council last year declared war on meth 
by unanimously approving a resolution that gave high priority to closing 
neighborhood drug houses and combating illegal drug use.

McCaffrey agreed to forgo his $15,000 speaker's fee to participate.

During the summit, teens were offered examples of every horror and problem 
associated with drug use, specifically methamphetamine use. The Snohomish 
Health District, which inspects homes, apartments and vehicles where meth 
has been manufactured, were called out to almost 70 labs last year compared 
with 22 in 2000. While it's most likely that some teens took McCaffrey's 
and others' messages to heart, it's still not enough, said Snohomish County 
Sheriff Rick Bart.

"I don't know how many kids we're reaching, but it's not as much as we 
want," Bart said. "That's why we have to go to the schools and reach out."

But teens who had taken drugs before or knew friends who used drugs said 
coming to the summit was worth it.

"I think those that do drugs come because they know what they're doing is 
wrong, but they need a different perspective," said Kylie Towle, a 
16-year-old at Granite Falls High School.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman