Pubdate: Fri, 09 Nov 2007
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Copyright: 2007 Nevada Appeal
Author: Brad Horn
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Recovered Addict Says 'Make Jail Hell So Users Won't Want To Come Back'

The governor's task force on the methamphetamine crisis got a 
different take on the subject Thursday.

"Today you're going to be hearing from the true experts," said 
consultant Linda Lang. "Those who've been through it and have beaten the drug."

The advice they got urged stronger and more graphic education 
programs throughout the school years to prevent young people from 
ever trying the drug - along with jail or confinement even for those 
facing their first conviction to drive home the point - and tough, 
mandatory treatment programs.

Shawna Braselton, of Reno, echoed the comments of the others saying 
in her 14 years of using meth, "I never considered myself addicted. I 
never tried to stop."

Matt Lowry, of Carson City, who began using meth at age 16, said what 
finally convinced him was his deteriorating physical condition.

"I remember looking in the mirror when I got out of the shower and 
seeing nothing but a skeleton and stepping on a scale being 6'2" and 
115 pounds," he said. "My primary motivation was fear - of death."

Jamee Fox, of Winnemucca, who started using when she was 16, said she 
completed drug court but had a relapse that sent her to prison for 10 months.

"I was never motivated to get clean," she said. "I was forced. Prison 
forced me to get clean."

Braselton said, "I never tried to stop until I lost my house, my job 
and almost lost my husband,"

Jesse Hill, of Reno, said he started using meth in the 1960s and, 
"probably knew in the mid-1980s I was addicted but didn't know I couldn't stop.

"What motivated me to get clean was I'd pretty much given up on 
everything in life. I was hearing voices and hallucinating and that's 
very strong motivation."

He said he has been clean 10 years now but still regularly attends a 
12-step program and works with other recovering addicts.

Dee Worth, of Las Vegas, who cleaned up after 15 years using, also 
works with a drug recovery program - the residential program she says 
saved her. She said that program taught her about her addiction, 
about meth and also how to make changes in her life to cure the 
issues that were driving her to use meth.

Click to Enlarge Recovering methamphetamine addicts front row from 
left, Matthew Lowry, Shawna Braselton, Jesse Hill and Jamee Fox 
listen to a former addict speak about her experiences in recovery 
during the Governor's Working Group on Methamphetamine Use at the 
Nevada State Legislative building Thursday. BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal

Browse and Buy Nevada Appeal Photos   If a person is given the right 
tools, they can maintain sobriety," she said.

Fox urged much stronger education programs for young people.

"They need to see the dirty side of methamphetamine as soon as they 
hit high school," she said. Keeping users in jail a week or two 
doesn't work, she said.

"I don't think anybody should do less than three to six months," she said.

"My personal opinion? Make it hell. Make jail hell so they don't want 
to come back."

Then, she said, the rehabilitation program will be a much more 
attractive alternative.

Worth agreed with increasing jail time for first offenders.

"Any less and they'll go back out there and do it again."

She said addicts have to be clean long enough for their minds to 
clear, then put into mandatory treatment programs.

"The treatment has to be intensive and you can't get that from the 
weekend recovery club," she said. "And absolutely show them the 
effects. Nobody came to my high school and showed me meth-mouth."

Braselton said she was originally taught meth, marijuana and all 
other drugs were the same but then saw people using marijuana in 
college without serious effects.

"People didn't go crazy. Nothing happened. If I had learned 
methamphetamine was a different drug, I might not have tried it."

Lowry said education should also involve parents.

"A lot of parents allow their kids to drink - even smoke pot with 
them," he said. "You need to crack down harder on parenting."

All of them told task force members their addiction isn't just 
confined to meth.

"Methamphetamine was just waiting to happen to me," Worth said. "I 
displayed addictive behaviors all my life."

"I wasn't just using methamphetamine," said Fox. "I was using everything."

All five said talking to other users and addressing groups like the 
task force helps them stay clean.

The task force, headed by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, 
has been charged with preparing a statewide plan to deal with the 
methamphetamine addiction crisis. Law enforcement officials say meth 
is now the majority of their drug cases in most parts of the state.
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