By: By JOE RUFF
Associated Press Writer
BOYS TOWN, Neb. -- Jalyn Todd said she first used methamphetamine in 1992 to lose weight.
In the months that followed she became heavily addicted, Todd said.
She neglected her two children, lost weight, developed open sores and had other health problems, Todd said. At 40 years old, she weighed 90 pounds.
Finally, she looked at herself in the mirror and decided she did not want to die, Todd said. She sought counseling and by 1993 had taken steps to turn her life around, she said.
Now a drug and alcohol counselor in Lincoln, Todd told about 200 people at a conference on methamphetamine that the drug can affect anyone.
"This is an equal-opportunity drug," Todd said. "It takes everybody."
The Nebraska Foster Care Review Board sponsored the daylong conference at Girls and Boys Town. Set up for case managers, foster care providers, attorneys, judges and others working in the juvenile courts system, the conference focused on the dangers methamphetamine poses to children; police and legislative responses and possible treatments for addicts.
The review board began seeing an increase in the number of children taken from homes because of meth-addicted parents about two years ago, executive director Carolyn Stitt said.
The board studies the effects of general drug use on the foster care system, and it plans to study methamphetamine's effect more specifically, she said.
The board also plans to hold similar methamphetamine conferences this summer in Grand Island, North Platte and Scottsbluff, she said.
At Friday's gathering, U.S. Attorney Mike Heavican warned that alcohol and marijuana are gateway drugs to methamphetamine. Parents need to crack down on any illegal drug use in their homes, he said, or the growing meth problem will not go away.
"You need to be indignant in your homes, your schools, about innocent' use of marijuana," Heavican said.
If parents are not tough on their children the methamphetamine problem will continue to grow, Heavican said.
Shane Flynn, the Nebraska State Patrol's Clandestine Laboratory Coordinator, said it is easier for high school children to get meth than it is for them to obtain a six-pack of beer. Flynn, who has worked in the narcotics division since 1997, said street prices for meth have dropped by 700 percent over the last 10 years.
Flynn said law enforcement cannot deal with the problem alone. Methamphetamine is so addictive that doctors need to be involved, Flynn said. Children found in homes where meth is being made need to be placed in safe environments, Flynn said.
Children can be exposed in the womb and from toxic chemicals used in home-based meth labs. Nationally, thousands of children have been taken away from meth-abusing parents in recent years and placed with relatives or overloaded foster care systems.
Meth is a powerful stimulant that can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected. It contains pseudoephedrine, found in common over-the-counter cold medications. The drug often is cooked in small quantities in kitchens, trailers or car trunks.
The state Legislature is considering a bill (LB117) designed to impede access to pseudoephedrine. The bill would require people who buy popular cold medicines such as Sudafed and Claritin to be at least 18 and show identification, and sellers of the products to be at least 19.
Under the bill, items containing pseudoephedrine would have to be kept behind store counters or in locked cabinets.
Alcohol and marijuana are not gateway drugs to methamphetimine. Marijuana prohibition is the gateway to meth, especially for young people.
Meth stays detectable in your system for about 72 hours whereas, marijuana stays detectable in your system for up to 45 days. High school students who would normally probably only smoke pot which, is the least harmful of the three substances mentioned in this article, are now using meth because they know they can party on Friday and test clean on Monday.
So there is your GATEWAY!
PROHIBITION = HARM MAXIMAZATION
Give them back their pot and they'll forget about the meth.