Methamphetamine use still a huge problem

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Although San Diego is no longer considered the methamphetamine capital of the U.S. (now topped by Tulsa, Oklahoma), it does not mean that the problem has gone away. In a recent report that outlines 2012 meth related incidences, death from this highly addictive concoction of lethal materials has increased 55 percent since 2008. In the same vein, emergency room discharges are up by 65 percent and arrests up by 56 percent.

Although San Diego is no longer considered the methamphetamine capital of the U.S. (now topped by Tulsa, Oklahoma), it does not mean that the problem has gone away. In a recent report that outlines 2012 meth related incidences, death from this highly addictive concoction of lethal materials has increased 55 percent since 2008. In the same vein, emergency room discharges are up by 65 percent and arrests up by 56 percent.

This long ranging battle is nothing new for San Diego and with the release of this new report, East County got a good sweeping last week that resulted in 26 arrests. Though these sweeps happen frequently, this time it focused on second time offenders 18 to 24. Santee, Lakeside and El Cajon were targeted and the reason for this age group is that the County of San Diego Methamphetamine Strike Force believes that this age group is not too far-gone and open to change than those that have abused this drugs for many years.

Meth not only kills people, it destroys just about everything it touches. Families are broken up, children abandoned, drug addicts become felons and constant use of the drug can make a loved one, someone you do not recognize anymore. It completely changes personality and opens up the user to doing things they never thought were possible.

There are not many people that I know personally that do not know the effects of having a friend or family member become part of the “tweeker” society. In most cases, everyone loses.

But this is just another sad story about addiction and as troublesome as meth addiction is, it is not alone and has many partners in crime that are just as deadly, if not deadlier. Heroin is no longer the end of the line of drug addiction. In many cases, because of its ease of availability and cheap price, it is the beginning starter drug. And as addictive as it is, it only takes one time to become an addict.

And what many people refuse to look at is the highest drug killer in today’s society-prescription drug use. More deaths each year are caused by what is in many people’s medicine cabinets. And they are prescribed daily for pain, depression and anxiety without a second thought of dealing with the problems and not the symptoms.

I still stand firm that drug addicts that have not reached the point of committing crimes and are only users and abusers should not crowd our already overcrowded jails and prisons. There has to be a better way to deal with addiction than locking them up with criminals that give them little to no hope for full recuperation. It is not a conducive atmosphere to make the change for a better life.

We need to start investing more in rehabilitation programs outside of cells. Stiff punishment including participating in an in-house drug rehabilitation facility, frequent random drug tests, long parole periods with hundreds of hours of community service are a few ideas that I believe would help get these salvageable drug addicts back into society. Yes, it all cost money, but it cannot be as budget breaking as our prison system that is currently crippling California.

It is time to go back to the basics, just like we deal with our children. It is a long standing belief and proven method that if you keep them busy with sports, community service, after school programs, they are much less likely to resort to drugs and alcohol (still the number one gateway drug in the world). But education comes first, for both the users and the non-users. Understanding drug addiction is the key to solving the problem.

We cannot save everyone. It is unrealistic to have such lofty goals. But, with some tough love, compassion, education and intervention, there are many out there that can be helped.

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