Pubdate: Mon, 14 Nov 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Jordan Schrader
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Meth becomes dangerous before it's ever made.

A toddler in a home being used as a meth lab comes across some lye 
and puts a little in his or her mouth. By the time Dr. Cynthia Brown 
and her colleagues see him, his mouth and tongue are severely burned.

Brown's work with such victims at Mission Children's Clinic is one 
link in Western North Carolina's efforts to deal with methamphetamine 
addiction. Wednesday offers a chance for the public to see how the 
links fit together.

A summit at Western Carolina University brings together experts from 
law enforcement, social services, medicine, government and the media.

They share a determination to curb the growing number of meth labs in 
North Carolina -- at least 289 destroyed so far this year, and a 
total last year of 322. The experts will share knowledge and 
solutions with each other and the public.

"The more aware the community is, the more likely they are to 
recognize that there's a lab next door," Brown said. She's on a list 
of speakers that includes Attorney General Roy Cooper and Principal 
Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Leaders and experts will learn how their counterparts elsewhere in 
the state have succeeded, said Gordon Mercer, director of the 
university's Public Policy Institute that organizes the summit.

"Some communities have done a better job in terms of integrating 
approaches and working together," Mercer said, pointing to task 
forces in Rutherford County as a model approach.

The Public Policy Institute devotes its annual forum to a critical 
problem in Western North Carolina. It publishes a report on the issue 
after the summit.

Western Carolina University students benefit from organizing and 
attending the summit, Mercer said.

"Students become involved in some of the critical issues of our time 
period," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman