Taking a closer look at the meth problem

Published 9:28 am Thursday, May 12, 2016

In 2016 alone, the word “meth” has been featured in a Leader Publications headline 13 times.

It seems at least twice a month we receive a press release from the sheriff’s department about a meth bust. The drug courts are filling up quickly and too many reoffenders are being sent away to prison. This can mean a couple of different things: Either more people are using this dangerous drug, or the police are getting a lot better about finding out about it.

My hunch is it’s a little bit of both.

Realizing this trend, our editorial team has set out to examine the issue that is clearly plaguing Cass County. Yesterday, I met with a woman who used many drugs — including meth — for more than two decades before finally surrendering to her addiction and accepting the help she now realizes she desperately needed.

Now five years sober, this woman overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to beat her addiction, and now she devotes her entire life to helping others win the same battle.

I talked with Misty for nearly an hour, sharing tears as she told me her story. I won’t share too much of her journey just yet, but suffice to say that the strength and tenacity this woman is enough to move mountains. Cass County is lucky to have her.

Misty’s history gave us some first-hand insight into the problem, but holistically the meth dilemma is impacting a huge percentage of our area. We have a lot of questions on our hands.

Why are people choosing meth over other drugs, like heroin and prescription pills? What work is being done to make meth ingredients more difficult to obtain? How many people are actually dealing with this problem compared to how many are getting caught?

Misty is a graduate of Cass County’s drug treatment court, which she says truly saved her life. How much money is being invested into these courts? Is it enough? What is the success rate of this program?

Our team continues to uncover the answers to these questions, and hopefully, in a couple of weeks, you’ll see the answers in the premiere of our Closer Look series.

We’re aware that it isn’t just meth users who deal with the effects of meth. Family and friends of users suffer alongside their loved ones. Business owners lose money when users shoplift the items necessary to make meth. Firefighters risk their lives putting out fires caused by meth lab explosions.

With so many people impacted by this issue, we feel it is necessary to shine a light on it and discover what work is being done to solve it.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached at (269) 687-7713, or by email at ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com.