Funding meth solutions requires patience

Here is one attraction California does not want: According to
Cmdr. Bob Cooke of the Unified Narcotic Enforcement Team, there is
more methamphetamine manufactured in the state than in any other
country in the world.
Here is one attraction California does not want: According to Cmdr. Bob Cooke of the Unified Narcotic Enforcement Team, there is more methamphetamine manufactured in the state than in any other country in the world.

On the local level, as many as 75 percent of the inmates at the San Benito County Jail had used the drug before incarceration. Of all the mental health service requests at the jail, an official estimated that 60 percent to 70 percent stem from meth withdrawal. And of all the patients at the SBC Substance Abuse Program, 80 percent enter the program for meth addiction.

But it is not just the “druggie” who is effected. All types of people use it for its high, its cheap cost – from the white- and blue-collar person to the street gang person – everyone is effected.

But the rather unsettling thing about meth is what it does to the user.

Unlike many other illegal drugs, meth causes paranoia, hallucination, mood swings and violence. Specialists say it is also more addictive than other drugs, including cocaine and heroin.

Not a pretty picture.

There are many reasons for the increase of meth in San Benito County. The rural areas provide excellent locations for a growing number of labs, the high compared to other drugs and the cost compared to marijuana, one drug in which SBC has consistently ranked near the top in the state for the number of plants seized by law enforcement.

But meth has far more potential to make the user harmful to others, including family, than marijuana.

Of course, in a perfect world there would be no use for illegal drugs in San Benito County. But that is unrealistic. Even if all illegal drug use was eliminated today, there would still be social harm and work for law enforcement and health authorities because of the abuse of legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco.

The prescription, however, for dealing with this meth problem does not begin with more laws, more arrests, more sentencing and more prisons. Just look at the statistics coming from our jail.

There should be an increase in the quality and quantity of treatment for drug users both in jail and after release. There should be more treatment programs and we should better fund the ones available.

Of course, everything costs money. But the investment in people and social order would be more than worth the cost.

Too often, decision-makers are more willing to spend money on reacting to problems rather than on paying for solutions.

Throwing money at problems produces immediate action, but funding solutions requires patience and time that extends into the future.

If we don’t invest in treatment and prevention, this meth and mental health problem will only become worse.

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