Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Shock treatment

Trying to reason with people embarking on a self-destructive lifestyle of methamphetamine addiction is a futile exercise in good intentions.

A proven and more effective tool is to shock existing and potential meth users into understanding the awful physical ravages of this unspeakably devastating scourge and the inevitable life of crime and degradation that results.

To that end, the Idaho Meth Project will begin a multimillion-dollar statewide ad campaign this month built around pale young faces ravaged by bleeding sores and dramatic scenes of teen criminals, violence and car accidents that follow from meth's mind-destroying effects.

It can't begin too soon.

This fact will shock most Idahoans: The state now is fifth in the nation in per-capita meth use, according to the Idaho Office of Drug Policy.

But good news could be in store: Montana launched a similar campaign when it was fifth in the nation, and by year's end it had dropped to 39th place.

Drug policy director Debbie Field has said "meth has really brought our state to its knees." At least 3,331 male inmates in the state prison system were meth users.

The costs of rampant meth use are virtually incalculable. In addition to the costs of law enforcement, court trials and long incarceration of users, tack on long-range medical rehabilitation plus the costs of violence to others in the community.

Any measurable reduction in meth use as a result of the ad campaign will be a blessing to people saved from the meth plague and a relief to communities and families being consumed by the drug's spreading use.

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