Saturday, February 6, 2016

Local Law Enforcement Express Concern About Increased Meth Use

Winston County Sheriff Jason Pugh is concerned about a significant increase in the use and abuse of
methamphetamines across the county. “We’ve seen a steady increase over the last three years but last year was the worst” said Pugh. “It’s getting more critical by the day.”

Pugh noted that this was not just a local problem. It appears almost every county in the state is seeing the drug grow in popularity and the costs to county government associated with its use are also increasing dramatically. Winston County has seen a significant increase in drug and alcohol commitments, youth court expenses and the need for foster care for children whose parent(s) have become addicted to meth.

Pugh – "Almost 75% of what we do in the Sheriff’s Office involves meth. Whether it’s burglaries, domestic abuse or commitments. I would hate to know how many kids are living with Grandma and Grandpa due to their parent’s meth addiction.”

Pugh stated that the problem is no longer isolated to youth or the white community. Louisville Police Chief L. M. Claiborne indicated that increased meth usage may not be as dramatic in the City of Louisville but that it is now abused in the African-American community, something that was not common until recently.

Several years ago, legislative changes at the state level that limited access to the components used to make meth had some impact on abuse across the state. The effect was short term as Pugh noted that some other neighboring states did not have as strict regulations as Mississippi and that meth – also called “ice” was and still is brought to the area from Mexico and the Arizona area.

Meth or "Ice" is a dangerous and potent chemical and a poison that first acts as a stimulant but then begins to systematically destroy the body. Serious health problems result such as memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior and potential heart and brain damage. Highly addictive, meth burns up the body’s resources, creating a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug.

Crystal meth’s effect is highly concentrated, and many users report getting hooked from the first time they use it.

Ice brought from the Southwest was very popular because of its potency but over time, middlemen and dealers began to cut the drug with other chemicals. “Stomping On” the drug by adding a variety of chemicals including horse tranquilizers made ice less potent and more dangerous due to not only the side effects of the drug itself but the effects of the unknown chemicals.

As a result, Pugh noted that there are once again, indications that some are attempting to cook meth locally and that new methods of producing the drug are rumored.

Locally, meth sells for about $100/gram which is enough to produce 3-4 hits. This is usually enough to keep a user high for as much as 3-4 days.

Once someone is on this drug, it is extremely difficult to break the addiction. “When parents get on this, they think of nothing else but getting more. There are numerous kids in this county in foster care due to meth use by parents,” said Pugh.

Both Pugh and Chief Claiborne indicated that the public needed to help with the problem.

Pugh – “If you see something, call it in. If you see signs of abuse in someone you care about, a family member or a friend, you need to react immediately before it’s too late.”

Claiborne – "If you see suspicious activity like a high volume of traffic at a residence or location or if you see a high volume of traffic of people who only stay a short period of time and leave, this could be an indication of drug activity.”