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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

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.

That's it.

-- This past August, two people were jailed for allegedly running a meth lab in a truck outside a grocery store in Perry.
-- 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 chapter.

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."


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