Doing battle with the meth scourge

Nevada was a black state before it was a red one. According to an investigation by the Portland Oregonian and Frontline, the silver state turned black in 1997, when the number of people in treatment for methamphetamine addiction hit 40 or more per 100,000 residents age 12 or older.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, in 2003, 145 people per 100,000 were undergoing treatment, one of the highest rates per capita in the nation.

In 2004, 3,332 Nevadans sought treatment for methamphetamine addiction, or nearly 29 percent of the total number seeking substance abuse treatment.

According to the DEA, methamphetamine is the most frequently encountered drug in Nevada. While the drug is still manufactured in small quantities by local laboratories, most of the supply comes from Mexican and Californian "super labs."

Unlike some social issues in which places like Douglas County are painted with the same black brush as Las Vegas and Reno, methamphetamine is just as great a danger here as in the big city.

Of the people required to submit urine samples to the Department of Alternative Sentencing, 12 percent test positive for methamphetamine. These people aren't being tested at random. They've already done something to warrant the attention of the legal system and face the loss of their freedom if they continue to use the drug.

Methamphetamine is a factor in many property crimes as addicts steal to support their habit. Sheriff Ron Pierini has said illegal drugs and specifically methamphetamine is the No. 1 crime problem in Douglas County. During December and January, The Record-Courier reported on 16 instances when methamphetamine was a factor in an arrest or court proceeding.

Methamphetamine use is an epidemic in our small community and combating it will require commitment and sacrifice from each of us.


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