Meth addiction in Cache Valley
affects people you know and love
By Jessica Alexander
October 16, 2006 | In 2006, 337 people were treated
for methamphetamine use in Logan. Some have gotten their
lives back. Many more have not.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had to go into
the sheriff's office to get an officer to verify the
VIN number on my car. It was that time of year again,
when you run around the city going from here to there,
asking for signatures, waiting in lines and shelling
out your money. I had to register my car. I was waiting
for the officer to come meet me, when I saw faces on
a poster. They looked like before-and-after testimonials
on an infomercial, but this was no ad for a weight-loss
supplement. It was a flyer about meth.
I looked at the first picture. Woman. Mid-thirties.
She seemed content, a half-smile rolling across her
face. Next picture. Three years and five months later,
this woman had aged 15 years and had scars all over
her face. She looked like pure hell. My stomach sank
to the floor.
Suddenly my eyes scoured the entire page. Where? When?
How? How do you know? What are the signs? I was in a
sudden sense of panic. Increased alertness and energy,
exhilaration, hyperactivity, loss of appetite, insomnia,
paranoia, severe depression, meth bugs,I read. Penetration
and removal of the dermis, causing open, red (often
bleeding) sores, most commonly on the face and arms
but can be anywhere on the body.
-- This past August, two people were jailed for allegedly
running a meth lab in a truck outside a grocery store
-- Ninety-three percent of first time users become addicted.
-- Meth habits can run from $100 to $300 a day.
I had just come home from a study abroad course in
Germany over the summer. I only had a few weeks before
classes started up again; it was nice to be home and
to spend time with my family. The first few days were
great. A welcoming home party with lots of food and
friends. But, the next few days, my mom was gone. I
thought she was exhausted.
One afternoon while she was lying on the couch in
her pajamas, I noticed red scabs all over her arms.
"Oh, it's just a rash I got from spraying weed chemicals
on the lawn," she said.
-- Women are twice as likely to use meth than men.
-- This fiscal year, 218 of those are women in Logan.
-- In November of 2004, Salt Lake City ranked third
in the country for women testing positive for meth.
-- Most women who use meth are single, with unattached
males coming in and out of the house. They are your
co-workers, your neighbors; they are rich and poor;
they are sisters, daughters and mothers. These are the
women you know.
It was that day at the sheriff's office, when I realized
my mom wasn't my mom. She was a product of a very dangerous
substance. The devil drug, as some call it.
It was Sept. 26, 2005. I was sitting in my car on
600 North and 600 East. I just got off the phone with
my aunt. She was taken in today. She's not coming out
any time soon. Sixty days in Bluffdale... I thought
she'd be out just before Christmas.
Oct. 25, 2005: "I got a letter from mom today.
I didn't read it until tonight. I have no words really
except for the fact that I am sick of crying."
Nov. 2, 2005: "I did something tonight that I never
thought I would ever do in my lifetime. I went to a
narcotics anonymous meeting ... it was good, good to
hear their side, my mom's side."
Jan. 1, 2006: "I went to see my mom yesterday.
She seemed well; although looking and talking through
the glass was something that I thought I'd never have
to do for the third time ... she looked good though."
Six months after Christmas, I got a phone call at
5:45 a.m.: "Honey, I need you to come and get me."
The next day I drove my mother to St. George to stay
with a friend. I drove back that same day. That day,
I had seen my mom for the first time in four years.
For the first time I had seen her without the pain in
her eyes, without the anger in mine, and without the
glass between us.
In 1999, methamphetamine use was at an all time high,
with 272 labs being busted in the state of Utah. Last
year, it was down to about 37. But that doesn't mean
that meth is gone. Utah has one of the highest percentages
of meth use in the country. In 2004, 66 percent of the
children found in meth-abusing homes were taken away.
This isn't just about the statistics. This is real
life. Meth is often unnoticed, but it takes over lives.
It destroys families. It sucks you in and like a black
hole, will not let you out. It takes every ounce of
your being and the support around you to overcome the
pull that meth has on you. I've seen it.
Methamphetamine use in Utah is an issue that needs
to be addressed. It needs to be talked about. It needs
to be seen. It needs to be prevented.
I didn't know anything about meth before last year.
I am 21 years old. I wouldn't consider myself na´ve,
but this is a subject that does not come up in the D.A.R.E.
program. Or, at least I don't remember reading that
Today, my mom is on the road to recovery. She is living
with her father by her side, and has a renewed sense
of relationship with her mother who has never really
been there. Although in my case it will turn out for
the better, there are many cases that aren't so lucky.
In many cases, the end result is death.
My mom was lucky.
Sept. 30, 2006: "It started while I was making
mashed potatoes. I told her how much I had always loved
the way she made them. Homemade with milk and butter,
and a pinch of salt! After talking about potatoes and
boys and future plans, we started talking about how
where she is right now, is where she is supposed to
be ... starting a brand new life. It baffles me how
things work out so specifically that when looking back,
you can see all the points leading up until now ...
and those points are so intricately woven."