Of all the drugs I've covered as KOTV's crime reporter, the one that seems the most devastatingly wide-spread is meth.
I can't tell you the number of families destroyed by this drug, the number of grandparents now raising their grandchildren because it, the number of people who've lost jobs, children and health, yet can't give it up.
Meth users don't fit a stereotype that I can see. They are upper class women, they are teenagers, they are people who come from good families and have good jobs. I'm still amazed when I see a family photo of a person before the drug and a photo (usually a mugshot) of them after the drug takes its hold. The outward appearance has changed so drastically. They are skinny, their hair is falling out, they look beyond exhausted, their teeth are rotting and their faces are marked with open sores.
I've interviewed meth addicts who have been clean for two years (usually because they've been in prison) and they'll tell me about the insatiable craving for the drug that drives them to do unimaginable things... ignore their children, steal from their families, sell anything they can find, all because every waking moment is geared toward getting more and more and more. Officers tell me meth is more addictive than cocaine or heroin, that it consumes a life more quickly and more completely than any other drug.
It's a terrifying drug that does not seem to be slowing down in Oklahoma or the nation. Our pseudo-ephedrine law seemed to quash local production of meth, through labs, for a while, but, now, they are making a comeback. Plus, officers say meth has been shipped up to Texas and Oklahoma and beyond from Mexico in a much more pure form, called ICE.
Drug officers spend countless hours on warrants and raids, but, don't ever seem to be able to stem the tide. I worry how meth is going to change the face of our society in the next 20 years. The long term health effects for users and the children who live around those chemicals aren't even known yet. And, what of the terrible toll on children who are being raised by relatives or the state.
I don't know what the answers are, I just know that we, as individuals of a group called society, cannot afford to ignore the astronomical cost of this drug on our families, neighbors and friends any longer.
A man who's worked as an undercover agent for the Area 10 drug task force in Oklahoma, has worked hundreds of 500 cases involving meth and has now put his extensive knowledge into a book. I've put a link here, so you can read an excerpt. He's certainly a believer, as am I, that to conquer the enemy, you must know it first.