|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - August 2010
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Don’t Meth with Me: Rotary sending anti-meth message
Polk County Enterprise
LIVINGSTON — Local Rotarians announced preliminary plans for an effort to encourage Polk County fifth-graders to take the pledge, “Don’t Meth With Me.” The project, currently spearheaded by industrial psychologist Blair McDonald, draws on an effort by Rotarians in Farmington, N.M. that after four years has reduced juvenile meth arrests from 39 in 2006 to zero so far in 2010. The program focuses on educating youngsters that meth kills people and destroys lives. “What’s the big deal with meth? Isn’t it just another drug?” McDonald asked during his presentation. “National statistics say that one in three high school students think meth is another recreational drug, 42 percent say their friends would not be upset if they used meth.” McDonald pointed out that many adults tell children not to use cigarettes or alcohol, but they do use them and survive. “Many adults moderate their use of alcohol or marijuana and lead full and productive lives,” McDonald said. “Unlike many recreational drugs, a person can become addicted to meth from a single exposure,” he added. McDonald cites statistics showing that 42 percent of first-time users try meth a second time; 84 percent of second time users develop a continual use. “The self-cure rate is just about zero,” McDonald said. Rotary’s “Don’t Meth With Me” Program will focus on prevention. It will target fifth-graders with a presentation discus the dangers of meth and strategies for making responsible choices. Every fifth-grader will receive a T-shirt, wrist band and card to remind them of the program and encourage schools to reinforce the message. Organizers are developing an intensive media campaign that will continue to drive home the message about how deadly this particular drug often is for users. McDonald says the Livingston program will not address other drugs or law enforcement, but other programs are seeing collateral benefits from the anti-meth effort. “They do not focus on the supply side of the meth epidemic. They focus intently on the user side. “They do not focus on drugs other than meth, but use of other drugs is effected.“ They do not focus on adult meth use, they focus on children in school, but adults are effected,” McDonald said. Many other organizers are eager to support the Rotaryinitiated program. Most local school districts, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and the Burke Center are among early supporters. Narcotics Lt. Andy Lowrie with the Polk Co. Sheriff’s Office agreed with McDonald’s portrayal of the devastation caused by meth. “I’ve seen users stay awake for seven days straight and then crash for just as long or longer,” Lowrie said. The PCSO Narcotics Division has raided 15 meth labs so far this year — a massive increase that has come on the heels of a new “shake and bake” manufacturing method that only takes a few hours to yield product. While the problem is serious in Polk County, many of the recent local arrests involve residents of Angelina and San Jacinto counties. Lowrie said if Angelina County could dedicate a team of 25 officers to busting meth labs, it would still take five years to remove the labs that are in current operation. Lowrie added that most children whose parents use meth test positive for the drug simply from living in an environment where it’s used. Just as tobacco smoke permeates homes and affects the children of smokers, toxic amounts of meth are found in homes when officers make arrests. All but two children that narcotics officers found in the homes of adults using meth tested positive for the drug and were removed from the home by Child Protective Services, according to Lowrie.