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Sep-13-2006 22:46printcomments

Op-Ed: Strike Force Police and Meth as a Political Campaign Issue

More money for more strike force cops and more arrests, more people in jail, more kids in an overcrowded foster care system, all in the fight against Meth, but who is being served? I've seen the Republican meth fighters come to a meth house before, once. They stayed long enough to have their pictures taken and do a couple of interviews, then it was off to lunch and bigger and better things.

Former meth addict Richard Adams
Former meth addicts like Richard Adams can help others get their lives straightened out, because he's been there
Photo by: Tim King

(SALEM) - Despite the fanfare and talk, we're nowhere close to solving the meth problem here in Oregon. Instead the problem only worsens as we assemble teams of "strike force police" and politicians hold elaborate affairs where many people are celebrated and many others are patted on the back, while kids outside the building snort lines, live homeless, and have no idea what is going on where all the business people have gathered.

I've seen the Republican meth fighters come to a meth house before, once. They stayed long enough to have their pictures taken and do a couple of interviews, then it was off to lunch and bigger and better things.

These are the guys who want to save you from paying more in taxes, as your once-proud state buckles and falls to its knees from a lack of government support.

No way, the end is not anywhere in sight at this point in Oregon. I'm not trying to say that Senator Jackie Winter's efforts aren't sincere, I'm sure she means well and of course she would like to help end the problem, but too many state officials spend too little time in the trenches and they are far too separated from the subjects they claim to have all the answers for.

No way, I'm not buying it.

Who brought this home cooked meth problem on anyway? Oh yeah, that was you Uncle Sam wasn't it? You thought our moms had just gone too far back in the day with their diet pills, it was time for mother's little helpers to go away, at least the ones that were traditionally used to control weight called methamphetamines.

So in 1983, the FDA banned one of the ingredients used in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical called Phenyl-2-Propane, and that's when it went underground where it lives and breathes today.

You see, methamphetamine never went out of control before '83, it never wreaked havoc on a nation. It was an FDA approved drug that doctors prescribed, and while it may have caused problems for some, it wasn't brewing in motel bathtubs that you might want to put your baby in, or in lowered Hondas going up and down Lancaster.

So our ever so insightful government made it impossible to have the better quality methamphetamine, one that legitimate companies and outlaw motorcycle clubs made profits from, and now we have a mess that is a hundred times bigger.

It gets worse. Former addicts who have it together and, say, own and operate a drug rehabilitation center, are denied entry in any Salem/Keizer school. They may save lives and help others in their quests for sobriety for two decades, but that old drug conviction will keep them from sharing what they learned with those who need it most.

Then there is the school of thought in our county and federal government that nothing "shocking" has any value when it comes to educating kids. Again, I don't buy it. I was a kid, it wasn't that long ago, and in my world shock value was real, led to a vivid memory in most cases, and the lesson stuck.

But don't show the kids how ugly meth user's teeth become, shield them from the reality of it all, just give them "positive answers." Don't get me wrong, that's a great idea for some kids, for others, being scared straight can last a lifetime.

A dose of reality about what meth does to a person's appearance could go a long way with a teenage girl.

I wish Jackie Winters would take all this cash and start a big public facility where meth addicts could go and seek treatment and group counciling without any legal intervention. But for something to work, you need former users who learned how to beat their problems.

Standard society has to learn to re-embrace people. Former users need support in big ways and we aren't finding out what those ways are; we're just arresting them, and arresting them, and arresting them.

D.A.R.E. Programs are effective for kids. Direct education can do the trick. When they hit their teens everything needs to notch up. Families have to talk about the ugliness of meth and they have to teach their kids how dangerous it is. They also need to teach them about all the interesting things in life and get them going in another direction.

Finally, consider the Gateway Theory for just a moment and ask youself this question: Do we as a society have ourselves to blame, when we constantly repeat the same information, and convince kids that one thing always leads to another?

I have a great friend that I used to surf with named Joey Simpson who killed himself in the early 1980's over his guilt from going "off the wagon" with his heroin use. I'll tell you this much, if he had any idea how much he would be missed, if he only knew that almost everybody would not judge him harshly for an addiction he truly wanted to beat, he probably wouldn't have done it.

But society gave him enough of a head trip to end it all, and everyone in that California beach town grew up surfing without one of the very best after that.

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david stamm November 4, 2011 5:53 am (Pacific time)

yes meth addicaton us had i struggle every day

Chris Hulshof September 22, 2006 7:00 pm (Pacific time)

I have attended two coffees put on by Jackie Winters during her curent campaign against Democratic candidate Paul Evans. In the first, she spent a great deal of time speaking of her break throughs in meth prevention, including the above mentioned task force. She even went into plans to prevent over population in jails (but didn't touch the aspect of permanent prison sentences and how that would affect the already over-crowded system). I commended her on these efforts. Whether they are good or bad for society, a fairly noteable politician taking the stand against Meth can be nothing but good for the community. I thanked Senator Winters that day from the bottom of my heart, for I come from a place where I grew up around meth (and by the way, the shock value of that childhood was plenty enough to not get me to touch the stuff and would do so for most any child). I did have one concern though. Although families were brought up in Winter's speech, it was more along the lines of keeping those families connected once the parents were in jail. not just disconnecting them as is often done. She even spoke of teaching the meth users how to inform their kids not to do Meth themselves. However, the issue of extremely over-crowded care homes was not addressed, nor was any valid means of rehabilitation for the users. So I went to a second coffee, which in many ways disturbed me. eqriddle pointed out that there is a lot of private money backing such initiatives, and that is what I like to see. What I didn't like to hear was Winters saying that she pulled money from the HR budget, which is drastically underfunded to begin with, to implement her program. In fact, she mentioned pulling amounts up to millions of dollars form that budget for her pet projects, the third of which she stated that she likes to pull money out when she can do so. That is what really disturbed me. A privately funded meth squad to bust users, dealers, and manufacturers is simply wonderful for the community. Whether or not it actually helps users rehabilitate is questionable, but it does take crime off the streets. It is privately funded, it is allowed to have flaws as long as it is for the greater good, in my humble opinion. However, pulling money from my tax dollars, your tax dollars, from a Human Resource budget which cannot in any way shape or form handle being pulled from is another story. doing so required proof that this program is A.) effective enough for government funding to be prioritized for the program over other programs in need B.) Gets to the root of the problem in order to solve the problem and not just create superficial results. and C.) is not detrimental to the citizens of Oregon- in this case, the children of these offenders. Now, I know that Winters has the best of intentions. From my time I've spent conversing her, she is aware of and fighting against this terrible scourge of meth harder than anyone else I can think of in Oregon at the moment. However, we must not let intentions blind us. We have to look at each program for what it is, what the pros are, what the cons are, and where this money is coming from (and I mean ALL of it, not just the parts that make you look good)

eqriddler September 16, 2006 1:22 pm (Pacific time)

Tim, fellow truth seeker, (TS) I agree, we need to be more aware of those with problematic issues that we can alieviate because we have a great opportunity to impact their lives so positively. Go out today and ask someone what they need and give it to them. Not indiscriminately, use discernment, but don't give up until that one is helped and it won't take long. By doing that you create a world where I want to live. The shivers go away because nothing can take away what you've created short term. Long term, I'll always attain to this goal even to my dying breath even when the strike force strikes me. No fear TS

Tim King September 16, 2006 2:26 am (Pacific time)

That's cool Riddler, she is a nice lady and I find her history and that of her husband's equally fascinating. My point is that too many people at her level are out of touch, that's all. I believe wholeheartedly in the police effort to bring meth under control, but I think we all agree that it is only one area to spend, and rehab and treatment, learning how to keep families together, that may be the part that needs more attention.

Also, just the choice of words with "strike force police" sends shivers down many spines and brings about questions.

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and for reminding us that regardless of the success of her efforts, Senator Winters means well and intentions do count.

eqriddler September 16, 2006 2:18 am (Pacific time)

Tim, Jackie Winters aught to be supported for taking the initiative to make meth less disirable and less available than it would be without her noble efforts. The money spent assembling strike force police are law enforcment resources. She is using private money given in response to her own program. That's one good program. Another is the drug rehabilitation center which sounds like could use some marketing help but I wouldn't fault the government schools because they operate illegitimately, that is, without the necessary skill. The shocking truth about meth effects is brought home to the teen but the pusher pushes and teens self-medicate. The sad effect of the drug forces the teen to undergo a transformation that should have been voluntarily through academic education instead. But government schools don't have the skills or the mandate to press the student as each one has need. About the gateway theory; unless and until self-medication is not an option for the individual, it is an option. But exciting new discoveries about the mind are emerging that will rock this planet. Remember when people would bury a potato to cure a cold and we canned food in lead cans? Well, all this drug using, government schooling world will end just like those things. Only sooner, with so many other wonderful things that you just can't imagine. It will be like the horse and buggy thinking to the scram jet thinking.

Albert Marnell September 14, 2006 10:52 pm (Pacific time)

Many addicts can not be self-sustaining and need disability benefits like many others of different disabilities. Not all people are able to hold a job. Many people can not function through a day, week or whatever and need to be in a safe and supportive environment. But let's spend the money on the defense industry because there was no market for defense items after the cold war was over, so our friends on Capitol Hill had to manufacture a crises because a few people like Osama McVeigh planned a terrorist attack that Cheney and Rumsfeld knew would be good to mobilize public opinion for the likes of Haliburton.

Anonymous September 14, 2006 9:32 am (Pacific time)

I think the money would be better spent on Residential Rehabilitation Programs. So many of these meth addicts end up on the street - and who wants to go to rehab or look for a job when you have no place to live. You can get on the waiting list for Bridgeway - but unless you have OHP, how are you going to pay for it? There needs to be more places for addicts to walk into right off the street or straight out of jail. Many addicts need several months before the effects of meth wear off and they start to feel normal again.

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