By now everyone knows of the dangers of methamphetamine and the tremendous price to society stemming from this dangerous and highly-addictive drug. Meth and crack cocaine combine to clog our prison system and heap an unbelievable price for society.
Yet despite the volumes of information about the dangers of meth, its use continues to grow and claim more victims daily. Meth is primarily a white man's drug while crack claims most of its victims among the minority community. But together these two drugs pose a major and growing concern in our culture.
And you know what? We are not winning the war on drugs and we are not reducing the use of meth. In fact, the problem is growing. Quite unfortunately, Missouri is ground zero in the meth war with more meth raids and seizures than any state in the nation. Unfortunately we're number one in this category by a very wide margin. I wonder why?
Meth - to me at least - is a white trash drug. Granted, there are exceptions and there always will be. But in general terms it's the lower class white citizens who turn to the cheap meth that can be made with readily available ingredients. I well remember writing about growing meth usage three years ago. Since then the numbers have exploded.
So can we stop this plague and, if so, how? Obviously law enforcement officials are on a frantic search for these answers on a daily basis. But despite their massive efforts, the war is being lost to the meth cookers and users. Our region of the state is about as bad as any other and worse than most.
This much is for certain - we cannot continue to spend taxpayer money to house the growing number of meth addicts in our state's prison system. The prisons are already overcrowded with drug users in such high numbers that the problem is literally out of control. Rehab for meth users is at best lukewarm in terms of success. The answer must come from elsewhere.
We need first to better control the ingredients used in the manufacture of meth. That will not be easy but it's cheaper and easier than paying the current price for society. And then we also need some creative punishment other than prison time for most meth users. I have had literally hundreds of readers wonder why these elements of society can't be used to clean up the roadways and other areas of our region. That might be a starting point.
I don't know the answers. But I do know that until we get a better handle on the meth crisis, we'll continue to pay a price beyond the imagination. It's a price we can no longer afford.