Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jun 2004
Source: Anderson Independent-Mail (SC)
Copyright: 2004 Independent Publishing Company, a division of E.W. Scripps
Author: Heidi Cenac, Independent-Mail
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Youth)


CLARKESVILLE - The methamphetamine problem in Habersham County got personal 
for Debbie Whiting about two years ago when a young man in her life became 

The man was 21 at the time and was a good kid who went to Christian school, 
Ms. Whiting said. She marked strange behavior on a calendar and began 
noticing a pattern where he would disappear for the weekend, crash on 
Tuesday and get up again on Friday afternoon. His personality changed and 
he began losing weight. "There's so many signs that you look at and it 
wasn't normal," she said.

The young man now is 24 and in a rehabilitation program, but the experience 
evoked a desire for action in Ms. Whiting, who said she typically is a 
quiet person.

Ms. Whiting and other Habersham County residents decided to take the issue 
into their own hands. They created "Drugs: Not in my kid, Not in my 
county," an awareness and prevention campaign.

"We're real excited," she said. "We feel like there is hope and we want the 
parents to know that there is hope."

The group is using bumper stickers, town hall meetings and seminars to 
create awareness and educate residents about prevention, intervention, 
treatment and aftercare. Methamphetamine use is a problem across Georgia 
and parents need to know what's going on, Ms. Whiting said.

Many young people bypass alcohol and marijuana for meth. They get it from 
friends, thinking it's OK, but unlike alcohol and marijuana, people can 
become addicted to meth after one experience, Ms. Whiting said.

"We want people to take their head out of the sand and see what's going 
on," she said. "It goes from one friend to another and it's like wildfire."

According to one study, young people in rural areas are 70 percent more 
likely to use methamphetamines than city youth, said Caroline White, 
executive director of the Clayton-based organization, Fighting Abuse in the 

About 100 people came to a town hall meeting Fighting Abuse in the Home 
hosted in Clarkesville last week to gather support for the anti-drug 
campaign, Ms. White said. The town hall meetings and individual meetings 
with civic groups, schools and churches are key to creating awareness about 
the problem.

Churches are especially important in the campaign because they can reach a 
large number of people, she said. For information on how to get involved in 
the campaign and its next meeting, people should contact Debbie Whiting at 
(706) 754-4953.
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