New video graphically shows dangers of meth

Published 4:44 pm Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Some use the drug to lose weight. Others use it to escape from the problems of daily life through a euphoric high.

In the end, what many find is a shattered body, mind and spirit, along with the loss of work, family and self-respect.

Methamphetamines, most typically known as meth, “is spreading like kudzu across the state,” said Circuit Two District Attorney John Andrews.

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It’s not as bad here in Butler County, but it is a serious problem in Crenshaw and Lowndes counties, in Covington County, and it’s moving on up the Interstate. And we have found it in McKenzie and Georgiana.”

Andrews returned to the Greenville Lions Club Monday to share the new Zero Meth campaign video, “The Harsh Realities of Meth” with its members.

The visuals were graphic: gaunt faces with hollow eyes, old before their time; emaciated frames, covered in sores that constantly itch, hair and teeth falling out.

Actual meth addicts in recovery and in jail shared their story on camera, while physicians and law enforcement officials discussed the affect on crime statistics, and the damage meth use inflicts on body and mind.

One recovering addict described herself as a college graduate who had held down a good job.

“Then meth became my life – I had to have it. I ended up losing custody of my little girl; I lost my family because of this drug,” she said.

Another said, “I prayed for someone to help me because I couldn’t stop.”

A law enforcement official described meth as a super-stimulant and “the number one drug in Alabama.”

“Meth is made from a lot of common household items, like cold medicine, chemicals and battery acid. It’s pretty easy to get hold of the ingredients. And these are not criminal types in many cases who are making and using these. It’s everyday people who are involved,” he added.

A prisoner said meth made him feel “like I couldn’t live without it. At first it made all my cares go away.”

The initial euphoria from smoking, injecting or snorting the drug doesn’t last, however, and the user has to take more and more of the drug to get an ever dwindling high.

“Meth is very deceptive. When you are doing it, you feel so smart and in control, and you aren’t,” said another meth addict in recovery.

Meth addicts start out “looking just like you or I,” said a physician.

“Over time, the ingredients damage their teeth beyond repair, and they lose them. They stop eating, lose a lot of weight, their hair falls out. They wither away – the drug eats at their mind, body and spirit.”

Meth is literally a mind-altering drug. It causes psychosis, with hallucinations and paranoid delusions very common. Meth burns out the neurotransmitter receptacles in the brain to the point where the addict can no longer reach the highs of earlier use.

One recovering addict said, “You become so violent before you even know it. I was getting into fistfights with my boyfriend and shoving my child around.”

A rehab counselor on the video said, “People who have a meth addict in their family will say, ‘That is not the person I knew.’ So many things change – the addict’s appearance, their behavior, the things they will do to support the habit,” said a rehab counselor.

According to law enforcement officials, statistics show 98 percent of robberies are drug-related.

“A lot of your break-ins, prostitution and other crimes are directly linked to drug addicts looking for some more money to get high,” said one official on the video.

Meth not only does a lot of damage to people physically and mentally; it’s also one of the hardest drugs to kick, one physician said.

“Once you start, it’s very hard to overcome. So the best way to kick it is, to never use it in the first place,” he said.

For those who have fallen into meth use, Andrews said the Drug Court in place in this circuit has been a success in terms of keeping users out of jail, going to rehab, getting an education and a job.

The yearlong period in Drug Court is very demanding of the individual, but we have a very low recidivism rate. If they go to prison, all they learn is new ways to steal and to make the drugs,” Andrews said.

He said 800 of the videos were available for use in high schools and civic clubs across the state.

“We hope seeing this will make people think twice about ever using this drug,” Andrews said.

The Zero Meth campaign is financed by funding through Senators Sessions and Shelby and through the district attorney offices throughout Alabama.