Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2006
Source: Appeal Tribune (OR)
Copyright: 2006 Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon
Author: Dennis Thompson And Kathleen Ellyn, Appeal Tribune
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Mayor Thinks Survey Results Would Be Lower In Silverton

Methamphetamine addiction has affected the lives of one  of every
three people living in Marion County,  according to a recent survey
sponsored by a legislative  task force.

About 36 percent of participants in the survey answered  "yes" to the
question, "Have you, a member of your  family or a neighbor been in
some way affected by  problems related to methamphetamine?"

The survey also found widespread community concern  about
methamphetamine and other drug abuse.

Silverton Police Chief Rick Lewis declined to comment  on the survey
without seeing it.

The telephone survey was done in July and involved 300  Marion County
residents selected at random. It has a  margin of error of 5.8 percent.

Former Marion County Commissioner Mike Ryan, who  oversaw the survey
for the task force, said the results  should be an eye-opener for
people who think  methamphetamine addiction is a limited or contained
issue in this area.

"That's a big, big number, I think," Ryan said. "It  says the level of
concern voiced by people has a very  big base on personal impact.
There's a huge alarm and  concern about methamphetamine, and it's personal."

The survey found that crime and drugs were the area's  most important
overall issues, with 84 percent of  respondents agreeing. The other
issues that people  thought most important were education at 70
percent,  and health-care access at 62 percent.

Methamphetamine use in particular was considered the  most important
public-safety issue in Marion County,  with 83 percent of respondents
agreeing. In comparison,  41 percent thought gangs were the most
important  public-safety issue, and 40 percent thought home  robbery
or theft were the most important.

In 2004, a community survey of 920 Silverton households  listed drugs
as one of three most frequently cited  "major problems" in the
community, though the study  didn't specifically ask about
methamphetamine. The  other major problems cited were housing prices
and  traffic congestion.

Silverton councilman Bill Cummins said he had read an  article in the
Statesman Journal about the county  survey in August, but hadn't seen
the results  personally.

"Since becoming a city councilmember, I have not been  briefed on the
statistics of the impacts of meth," he  said. He was, however, very
concerned about any  percentage of meth use in Silverton.

"Nobody should be affected by methamphetamines,"  Cummins said. "It is
sad if the statistic of one in  three people in Salem is true. I hope
it's not the same  statistic in Silverton."

Given the broad nature of the survey question, which  allowed survey
respondents to comment on their general  perception of the problem in
their neighborhood,  Silverton Mayor Ken Hector did not find the
results of  the survey at all difficult to believe.

"I certainly don't think that percentage would be high.  It's a
problem that's pretty well widespread." Hector  said. "I think we have
people who reside in Silverton  who are meth users, and I think we
have people from  outside Silverton who are meth users who come into
Silverton and create problems. It's probably the worst  of all the
drug problems that we have seen over time.  Our police, Chief Lewis in
particular, are very  involved with working on the meth problem in a
coordinated fashion with the county and the state."

In addition to closing down meth labs and putting a  stop to meth
sales, many communities are hoping to see  more focus on treatment of
meth addicts.

In fact, according to information provided by Marion  County,
chemical-dependency providers throughout the  county are field-testing
evidence-based practices that  target meth addiction. Personnel at
Seasons Counseling,  an alcohol abuse and addiction treatment facility
in  Silverton, stated that they had seen an increase in  clients
seeking treatment for methamphetamine addiction  and that it was the
third most common drug addiction in  treatment behind alcohol and marijuana.

The survey was conducted in advance of a fundraising  effort to create
a Marion County methamphetamine strike  force. Local leaders and
business owners are being  asked to raise $400,000 to pay for one year
of the  countywide, multi-agency strike force's operations,  which
will target methamphetamine dealers.

About 81 percent of the survey's participants approved  of the
creation of such a task force.
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