Arizona is #1 in meth use by high school students

The Arizona Meth Project is trying hard, and succeeding at, reducing first-time meth usage by young people “through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach.”  It does so primarily by using modern advertising techniques to create extremely hard-hitting 30 second TV ads with a core message of “Not Even Once.”

In an ad titled Just Once, three teenage girls are giggling, snorting meth for the first time in a bedroom. The voiceover from one girl says “I’ll going to try meth just once.” Soon, she’s stealing money from her mother’s purse. “I’ll going to steal just once.” Then, as she’s walking off with a sleazy guy, “I’ll going to sleep with him for meth just once.” Finally, she’s crashed out on a bed and her baby sister is stealing money from her purse, “I’ll going to try meth just once.”

The Arizona Meth Project has many ads like this which you can view on its website or on YouTube. It is part of the national group, The Meth Project, which is active in Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, and Wyoming, as well as Arizona. Its Arizona site says on the home page that Arizona is #1 one for meth usage by high school students, and given the reliability of the Meth Project and its tireless work, I’m sure that’s true.

The ads are effective and have shown that meth usage drops dramatically in areas where the ads run. Indeed, in Dec. 2010 Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said (PDF) meth usage in Arizona had dropped 65% between 2006 and 2010 and cited the Arizona Meth Project as one reason why, saying:

“The new data show that Arizona’s commitment to educating teens about the risks of using meth is paying off. Thanks to the Arizona Meth Project and community programs around the state, we are seeing dramatic decreases in teen methamphetamine use. With the supply of meth increasing as a result of trafficking by the Mexican drug cartels, prevention efforts are even more critical to our success in overcoming Arizona’s methamphetamine problem.”

Meth usage is more prevalent in rural areas than cities. Abandoned buildings in remote areas can be used for meth labs, plus one of the main precursors to cook meth is anhydrous ammonia, a common fertilizer often stored in large quantities in tanks. But of course, meth made in the country certainly finds its way to cities too.

Meth makes you extremely paranoid and can result in hyper-aggression as well as psychosis. It rots your teeth, leaving many meth users with blackened or crumbling teeth which will require major dental surgery.  It is highly addictive and will take you down faster than heroin or cocaine, as the Faces of Meth shows with their before and after mug shots of arrestees as they spiraled into addiction. Sometimes the after photo is just a few months later too, and shows a formerly healthy person now gaunt, with lesions on their face, looking years older.

This is not an abstract issue for me. I was addicted to meth for a couple of years in the late 1960’s and managed to escape with my teeth and brain intact. Too many don’t. The Meth Project is saving lives. And if you or someone you know is addicted, the best thing you can do is get them to Narcotics Anonymous or (since most addicts are also alcoholic) Alcoholics Anonymous.

(crossposted from AZIVN)