Post Independent opinion |

Post Independent opinion

Methamphetamine use is booming in Garfield County, just as it is across the country.

One has to wonder why, after reading a recent series in the Post Independent by Rifle correspondent Heidi Rice.

Meth is hardly a glamour drug. Side effects can include loss of teeth and hair, mood disturbances, paranoia, hallucinations, skin sores, strokes and even death. The drug is highly addictive, meaning that many who try to kick the habit fail.

And the victims of meth sometimes include children, who suffer from neglect, and often from environmental hazards associated with the nasty assortment of chemicals used for making meth in the home. These hazards also endanger police and other public safety officers called to the scene of a meth lab.

Still, meth use is expected to become the top drug problem in the county this year, overtaking cocaine. Last year, TRIDENT, the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Task Force, investigated as many meth cases as coke cases.

It gets worse: Meth appears to be attractive to a broad demographic profile. The Colorado West Recovery Center is reporting that while it used to treat mostly an older generation with cocaine and alcohol problems, many of its clients are now younger. And more are female.

Meth is seen as the big factor in these trends. About half of those Colorado West treats for meth addiction are female.

“Sam,” the former meth addict who was a central figure in Ms. Rice’s series, deserves praise for coming forward to speak up on it and help boost public awareness of the problem. Stores such as Wal-Mart should be credited for working with law enforcement to try limit purchases of household substances that meth lab operators buy in large volumes.

Meanwhile, as state funding continues to threaten Colorado West, and it continues to appeal for more local financial support for its Glenwood Springs detox center, the meth scourge is one reminder of the value of that center. It’s the place where “Sam” found a way to live free of meth.

People who want to get off meth and other drugs need a place in our community to go for help, for their own sake and the sake of their families and the community at large.

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