Pubdate: Tue, 27 Sep 2005
Source: Troy Messenger (AL)
Copyright: 2005 Troy Messenger
Author: Russell Sellers, The Messenger
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Both the Troy Police Department and the Pike County Sheriff's office 
will freely admit that there is a drug problem in Pike County.

"Anytime we have even one drug case, it's one too many," Sgt. Benny 
Scarbrough, public information officer for the TPD, said. "And drugs 
are the cause for a lot of other crime in the city and the county."

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas felt that the primary cause for 
most of the crime in the county was drug related.

"I'd say that about 85 percent of the crime that's committed in our 
area is due to drugs," Thomas said. "The number one drug that we have 
a problem with now is meth."

Methamphetamines, or meth as it's often referred to, is a synthetic 
stimulant similar to speed. According to Thomas, the drug can have an 
adverse affect on the user and can cause long-term damage.

Meth can come in a variety of forms and can be used several different 
ways. It can come in liquid, powder, crystals or rocks and it can be 
a variety of colors.

Its effects can also vary and can be hazardous to those who use it 
and those around the user.

"It speeds up the body in a way that's similar to speed," Thomas 
said. "It's highly addictive and one of the biggest problems is that 
users can develop a tolerance very quickly. It can cause the user to 
go without sleep for long periods of time."

Thomas said that he had seen some meth users go for days and even 
weeks without sleep.

"They can have a variety of symptoms," Thomas said. "They might 
suffer from hallucinations, paranoia, repetitive behavioral patterns, 
they can be very talkative, have dilated pupils and/or a loss of appetite."

According to Scarbrough, there are other possible signs that a person 
may be using meth.

"Sometimes they'll think they've got bugs under their skin and 
they'll try to scratch them out," Scarbrough said. "That can leave 
marks on their skin that may look similar to poison ivy. So having 
scratches alone isn't proof that somebody's on meth. But there's also 
the possibility that they might have a strong chemical smell to them."

According to both Thomas and Scarbrough, meth users can carry a 
strong odor due to the number of chemicals used in the drug.

"Meth is a manmade drug and uses a lot of household items," Thomas 
said. "Users will likely have a strong smell to them because of 
chemicals like ammonia and ether that are used in its production."

Thomas also felt that there are other problems with meth users that 
are harder to solve than simply arresting them.

"Meth is a hard drug to get off of and stay off," Thomas said. "I've 
seen a lot of people go through the program and try to get clean but 
when they get out they're right back on the stuff."

Other concerns that Thomas expressed were for the children of meth addicts.

"These people just do not care about their well being or the well 
being of their children," Thomas said. "A lot of them that have kids 
will have the children at the meth houses with them and the kids are 
breathing in those dangerous fumes. I've seen reports of kids who've 
been found in the houses whose lungs looked like those of a several 
year smoker."

While the problem seems to be large, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford felt 
that progress had been made.

"We've made a lot of cases against drug users and sellers here in the 
city of Troy," Lunsford said. "Most of those have been for meth, 
crack and marijuana. We are making things happen and we've made 
significant progress in certain areas."

Another problem that drug use brings to a community is theft. Whether 
it's from a car or a case of breaking and entering a home, drug use 
can drive people to do some destructive things.

Lunsford, Scarbrough and Thomas all agree that there are certain 
steps that people can take to help protect themselves from such things.

"Probably the best defense against something such as that is light," 
Lunsford said. "These people like to work in the dark and if they can 
be seen or if they think someone's home chances are they won't try to go in."
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