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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The View From Meth Capital, USA

Nitro, a K9 officer with the Merced County Sheriff's Department, and his handler Deputy Chris Picinigh,(cq) leave the home where a leader in the Nuestra Familia gang was arrested in Dos Palos, Calif. (AP)

In the Central Valley of California, a series of gruesome stories are highlighting the deep and wide impact of the epidemic of methamphetamine.

In Fresno, Calif., 23-year old Aide Mendez allegedly shot dead her children and cousin, she also seriously wounded her husband. She allegedly recorded herself smoking meth shortly beforehand.

Similarly, a Bakersfield, Calif., mother was sentenced this month for stabbing her newborn; she was believed to have been on the drug.

“Every time you turn around you see someone out of their mind, spun on meth and it instantly triggers extreme hunger for the drug.”
– Dr. Alex Stalcup,
who treats meth users in California

In California’s farm region, isolated tracts of land are an ideal place to hide meth labs from authorities. And from 2009 to 2010, meth busts there more than tripled.

Alongside that, there has been an uptick in meth-related crime — the theft of manhole covers, agricultural plumbing, copper wiring, lawn sprinklers, often sold to get more money for drugs.

Like A Dark Cloud Over Rural Communities

“It’s like a dark cloud, people get trapped in the drug life,” Dr. Alex Stalcup told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. He treats meth addicts in Lafayette, Calif., and he says the meth epidemic uniquely impacts close-knit rural communities, where addicts can have a hard time getting away from the drug.

“It’s hard to get away from your neighbors, church-going friends, people at the PTA… Every time you turn around you see someone out of their mind, spun on meth and it instantly triggers extreme hunger for the drug,” he said.


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  • Recovered Addict

    I’m a recovering meth addict.  During my addiction I admitted myself to the ER over 8 times in 2 years out of fear and ignorance of the drug’s effects.  One problem that I encountered was an intolerance by hospital staff.  I was more often treated like a leper than a patient.  At Providence Hospital in Portland, OR I was actually pressured to give up my bed for “more deserving patients.  The stigma surrounding drug addiction needs to be addressed if we’re going to get a grasp on a solution.  People working in health care need to be knowledgeable and need to be able to pass that knowledge on to their patients without judgement.  After my numerous visits to various hospitals in multiple cities, including New York City and San Francisco I didn’t actually start learning about what the drug was doing to my body until I entered an out patient rehabilitation program… this was without thanks to hospital staff.  I implore your guest to please reach out to hospitals; find ways to link all health care professionals so that treatment isn’t isolated to minimal and remote locations.

    • Insurance?

      Did you have health insurance? Maybe that why they treated you like crap and it had nothing to do with meth.

  • Big_sun63

    I am over a decade sober in Alcoholics Anonymous– I see many meth addicts come into AA and those who work the 12 step program and help others recover are relieved of the obsession and emptiness that addicts feel when left without a purpose to replace the way our chemical of choice made us feel. I also see addicts who stop using meth but develop an alcohol addiction–those too also recover if they work the steps.

    Boise, ID

    • Recovered Addict


      I applaud your commitment to your recovery but I want to respond to what seems to be a relatively stringent statement of requirement.  I am in recovery but am finding the 12 step model to be detrimental. Personally, I have found more practical, cognitive and non faith-based tools to be effective to my path to recovery.  I just want others who read this to know that 12 step programs do work for some people but not all and that there are other options, including SMART recovery and other, cognitive based programs. 

  • http://www.nltc.com/ Gantt Galloway

    You can learn more about Dr. Stalcup’s clinic, how we treat methamphetamine addiction, and the our research at http://nltc.com.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_A63F27VDEHXMS6MIVSAXJ4RIOQ seacrestout

    METH.  what could be older and more stupid?

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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