In the Grip of Addiction

by Bridget Geegan Blanton

In early April of 2006 near Sacramento, a man on a methamphetamine binge opened fire on innocent citizens from inside his vehicle. Armed with a 12-guage shotgun, he fired at nine victims; killing two men. One of the men killed had been a close friend to my husband and I for more than 20 years. Our friend was shot in the head in the presence of his wife and two young children. The shooter, high on methamphetamine, knew none of his victims. Today, he is in jail awaiting trial.

Non-violent crimes committed by methamphetamine addicts looking for money or property to buy drugs are on the rise. The violent shooting rampage committed by a man high on methamphetamine that stole the life of our friend is rare yet consistent with the type of behavior that can be exhibited by chronic abusers. Delusion, paranoia, as well as homicidal and suicidal thoughts can generate violent, psychotic behavior by chronic methamphetamine users.

Methamphetamine addiction, at its very core, is a form of bondage. The addict who is lost in a cycle of chronic drug abuse, leads a life that is often void of family and financial security. The physical and mental health of the addict is in a state of deterioration. As the addict falls deeper into the horror of addiction he or she sacrifices all, unto the point of death or imprisonment for the chance to be high. Mental obsession and physical addiction urge the meth addict towards drug abuse. Recovery can end the vicious cycle of addiction.

Legislation has struck a blow to the supply side of the equation. Clandestine labs have been shut down and ingredients necessary to meth production are no longer available in large quantities. The Federal government has also instituted strict guidelines regarding the environmentally protective method for cleaning up former meth labs. However, as long as demand remains at its present epidemic level, the problem will not be solved.

The local methamphetamine subculture is fully operational. Meth is produced, sold and smoked locally. Meth addicts committing violent crimes should be harshly prosecuted, along with suppliers and distributors. Non-violent offenders appearing in court for possession should be routed towards recovery via long-term probation that includes 12-step meetings. Intervention and a chance at recovery is society's best weapon to reduce demand. Law enforcement officials engaged on the meth epidemic front line favor sentencing chronic meth addicts to rehabilitation centers. Judicial support for treatment as a solution to the problem is necessary in the battle against the methamphetamine epidemic. The alternative is more violence and more lives lost.

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