Meth use is increasing and students are at risk

Beware: A very unattractive e-mail may be in your future.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias, with the participation of state, federal and education officials, will be sending an e-mail full of graphic photos depicting the results of methamphetamine use – “graphic photos of meth users with oozing sores and rotting teeth,” as the Associated Press described it.

Within a few days, the e-mail will be sent to the 260,000 students who attend the 35 state universities in Georgia.

As bad as meth is, it’s spreading – and it’s not just “confined to rural areas west of the Mississippi River anymore,” according to a government report cited in the Associated Press article. Meth use is surging on the East Coast. In the first five months of 2006, a startlingly higher number of employees tested positive for the drug in screenings. In Washington, D.C., the number of positive tests increased by 115 percent.

However, the number of meth labs uncovered by authorities is actually dropping. The number of labs discovered by law enforcement dropped 51 percent in the first four months of 2006 compared to the same time period in 2005.

The fact that meth is bad is hardly new, but with an increasing number of addicts – there is no “casual use” of meth – and law enforcement unable to keep up (largely because the drug can be made cheaply from products found at most supermarkets), attention must be paid.

Whatever one might say about the legalization of other narcotics, meth is perhaps one of the most dangerous drugs out there. Law enforcement officials tell horror stories of people who essentially become zombies on the drug. Addicts will stay up for days, if not weeks, due to methamphetamine’s stimulant nature. They lose their body fat, muscle tone, teeth, hair, complexions – they essentially become “the walking dead,” according to John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Unfortunately, there seems to be little one can do. The drug’s constituents can be derived from all sorts of over-the-counter medications, and judging from law enforcement’s success rate at stopping drug use in general, prison won’t work either.

In fact, there are plenty of drugs in prisons as well. Not only that, but fear campaigns, such as the one being launched in Georgia’s university system, won’t help. Sensation seekers are turned on – not off – by the possibility of horrific results. But here’s a horrifying result to keep in mind – college-aged people (18-25) are the most likely to try meth.