Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jan 2006
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2006 The Arizona Republic
Author: Dennis Wagner
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Organization Making Strong Push In State Hit Hard By Drug

Arizona television viewers will see a series of tough anti-drug 
messages this month as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's 
state chapter presents an educational campaign against what officials 
say is a methamphetamine epidemic.

The six TV commercials unveiled at a Wednesday news conference in 
Phoenix include one featuring 27-year-old Paul Delgado, a Glendale 
college student and waiter who served two prison terms because of his 
meth addiction.

The ad shows Delgado behind bars in a jailhouse jumpsuit, explaining 
that he was an all-state soccer player in high school until he got 
hooked on meth. "I thought I was invincible," he tells viewers in a 
voice that breaks with emotion.

At Wednesday's media event, Delgado said he has remained clean for a 
year and is waging war against meth.

"It tore me apart, tore my family apart," he said. "I spent five 
years in prison because of drugs. I robbed people at gunpoint and 
almost killed somebody that night . . . . Now my job is to help take 
the drugs off the streets."

Shelly Mowrey, program and marketing director for the Partnership, 
said a 2003 survey found that one-third of the Valley's youth had 
been offered meth, and half knew users. Her warning to parents: "It's 
not a matter of if, but when, your child is going to be asked to use the drug."

State Attorney General Terry Goddard, who has mounted his own 
campaign against methamphetamine in recent months, said the stimulant 
is "literally an epidemic in Arizona and in this country."

Goddard said he's backing the Partnership program to educate parents 
and young people in Arizona about the danger of meth. One example: 
Goddard said a study by his office found that 65 percent of abuse and 
neglect cases in the state are meth-related.

Dr. Marc Matthews, medical director for trauma at Maricopa Medical 
Center, said America's meth casualties have been higher than the loss 
of U.S. military personnel in two Iraq wars.

"How bad is this problem? It's everywhere, from the hills of 
Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix," Matthews said. "I'm seeing it every 
day. Gunshot wounds, stab wounds, rapes."

Jeanne Dugan, a middle-class mom whose son is recovering from 3 1/2 
years of addiction, said the drug crosses all demographic boundaries. 
She said she remained in denial while her son changed from a loving 
kid to a street addict, exhibiting classic drug symptoms: plummeting 
grades, withdrawal from family, acne and weight loss.

"I'm a mother who found her beautiful son had become an addict, a 
junkie who lived on the streets," she said. "If meth can descend on 
my family, it can descend on everybody's family. We are all vulnerable."

The Partnership Web site is
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