Pubdate: Tue, 01 Nov 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Jordan Schrader, staff writer
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Four Buncombe County residents started treatment Monday for a drug
addiction that has jeopardized their health, their perception of
reality and their relationships with loved ones.

Turning their lives around, if it happens, will not happen quickly for
these methamphetamine addicts, whose numbers have soared as the cheap
and highly addictive has moved across the country from the West to the
eastern United State.

In Western North Carolina and statewide, meth use has become a top
concern for law enforcement. Law officers in North Carolina swooped in
on 243 labs last year, up from nine in 1999.

In the new program, addicts must undergo 200 hours of treatment over
the next year to complete the county's new Methamphetamine Program, at
no cost to them thanks to a federal grant. It takes 12 to 24 months to
recover from a meth addiction, longer than cocaine or heroin.

Based on a program in California that boasts a 50 percent recovery
rate, the program is tailored to meth users. Not only is it twice as
long as most substance-abuse treatments, program coordinator Ron Corum
said, but it addresses the unusual needs of people distanced from reality.

"It's more important in meth use, because of the paranoia and the
violent tendencies and the mood swings, to acknowledge where they're
at, to not judge where they're at, to meet them where they're at - and
help them," said Corum, the counselor with ARP/Phoenix who will lead
the treatment.

Meth users will go through individual counseling as well as group
sessions where the members can compare their experiences.

The treatment program involves the whole family in recovery, a nod to
the neglect and abuse rampant inside the increasing number of homes
turned into meth labs.

Children are referred to programs at New Vistas Behavioral Health or
Families Together. Adult family members will attend one group session
a week to learn about the psychological effects of meth - and prepare
for the negative effects of their loved ones' recovery, such as
anxiety, shaking, paranoia and difficulty sleeping or eating.

Organizers would like to add up to eight more people to the treatment
sessions. At a meeting of the Buncombe County Methamphetamine Task
Force last week, members talked about how to enroll more meth users.
Some are reluctant because of the long commitment, task force members

The panel agreed that courts should require meth users to go through
the meth program rather than other substance-abuse programs.

In meth cases involving children, the county's Department of Social
Services can't make people enter the program without a court order,
said Becky Kessel, DSS social work program administrator.

"We hope that most people would be motivated by the fact that the
children are removed from their custody," she said, "but meth is a
powerful drug."
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