Pubdate: Tue, 25 Apr 2006
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2006 The Arizona Republic


Meth in middle school. Meth in the womb. Meth as father-daughter time.

The Arizona Republic series "Shattered by Glass: Children and Meth," 
shows how the drug has insinuated itself into what should be safe 
spaces. Home. School. How it invades sacred places, like a child's 
relationship with parents.

It can be overwhelming to read of a 12-year-old girl asking her dad 
to share his meth. It goes beyond chilling to enter the world of a 
14-year-old girl who scrawled her anger into a Betty Boop diary, 
decided "life sucks" and turned her mother in for cooking meth.

The clinical descriptions of what this drug can do to mind and body 
are harrowing. The seizure Saturday of 70 pounds of meth by the 
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office demonstrates that demand is high 
despite the risk.

Whether it's Mom in the kitchen or some Mexican cartel, the supply 
will be there.

Our challenge, as a community, is much like the challenge that Jeff 
Taylor of the Phoenix Rescue Mission said meth addicts face in 
rehabilitation: "How do you react to the world without getting 
loaded? How do you react to the jerk of a boss? How do you react to 
the wife that leaves you? How do you react to the father that dies?

You have to start to face life's difficulties."

How do you react when schoolkids take meth to class? How do you react 
to the fact that more than half of the kids in juvenile detention 
have a history of meth use? How do you react when 40 percent of 
dependency petitions in Pima County last year involved parents on 
meth? How do you react when 48 babies born at Phoenix Children's 
Hospital last year had meth in their systems?

You have to start to face it.

You have to get beyond the denial to recognize this drug effects 
people in every income bracket, every race, all ages.

It is, as one 15-year-old ex-user told The Republic's Judi Villa, "the devil."

It isn't somebody else's problem. The Partnership for a Drug-Free 
America reports that nearly one in five children age 12 to 17 has 
been offered meth.

You have to get beyond the paralyzing shock, the inertia of 
helplessness, to face this difficulty.

It's real, and it's everybody's problem.

Parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers.

Schools need to be alert and involved, too, because sometimes the 
parents are the problem.

A bill to inject needed cash into treatment, interdiction and 
education has been offered by state Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Mesa, and 
is moving through the Legislature. It should pass.

Unfortunately, the Legislature has not yet followed Attorney General 
Terry Goddard's suggestion to toughen up the state law regarding the 
sale of over-the-counter drugs that can be cooked into meth. Some say 
a federal law made that unnecessary, but codifying restrictions in 
state law wouldn't hurt. Increasing numbers of Arizona cities are doing so.

Efforts are under way to create an Arizona version of a gritty 
anti-meth media campaign that has shown success in Montana. Members 
of Goddard's and Gov. Janet Napolitano's staffs recently flew to 
Montana to check it out.

These efforts are important for dealing with a drug that has a cruel 
and frightening reach.

But just like the drug supplier who is always on the lookout for new 
ways to peddle his poison, we all have to continue to look for ways 
to keep our communities safe.

Meth use is a significant public health threat and efforts to counter 
it should begin at home and reach the highest levels of government.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman