By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
It is a problem that can affect people of all ages, a drug that can have someone hooked on the first try. The substance is easy to make and easily ruins lives. It's methamphetamine, a menace more people need to know about, Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson said today.
To that end, Peterson has put together a public presentation on meth, which will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Havre High School auditorium.
"It's just such a huge issue with our local task force and our local law enforcement," Peterson said. "More and more, I keep realizing that some people don't recognize it as a local problem, but we have labs here. People are cooking it."
Peterson said Hill County ranks seventh in the state for drug crimes per capita, according to a state Board of Crime Control report. According to the state Department of Justice Web site, 9 percent of all children in Montana experiment with meth by the time they graduate from high school, and the number of Montanans seeking treatment for meth addiction from state-approved chemical dependency programs has nearly doubled since 1995.
The forum will include a viewing of the HBO documentary "Crank: Made in America," an extensive look at the drug and its effects on three Iowa families. Following the film will be a presentation by Shane Haberlock, lead agent with the Tri-Agency Drug Task Force, and David Smith, a field program specialist with the U.S. Department of Justice, who will discuss meth trends on the national, state and local level.
Peterson said the presentation was to include a discussion period for the public, but that has been pushed back to May 3, when another meth forum will be held. The second forum will include talks by meth addicts, police officers and a social worker, who will talk about the drug's effects on young children.
Peterson scheduled the second date after she found out that she would be able to show "Crank: Made in America." Including everything in one night would have been too much, she said.
The documentary is a realistic look at the drug and its effects, she said. The content is not appropriate for young children.
"You see the individuals, and it tracks them over a certain time period," Peterson said. "Some talk about how it's going to be their last time, but they do it again. They need to do it to get through the day. You see people cooking, people shooting up. It's a very frank discussion of how addictive it is. It's very hard-hitting.
"The biggest thing that comes through the video, you consistently see people that believe they're in control, that they can quit. But you can see that they're not in control."
Rather than fighting the problem only through law enforcement by busting labs and users, Peterson said, prevention needs to be addressed. She hopes those who attend the presentation can come away with knowledge of how destructive the drug can be and assist in the effort by coming together to help prevent their friends, neighbors and family members from getting hooked in the first place.
"As local law enforcement, we can keep chipping away at it, but there's no way we can do it ourselves," Peterson said. "It has to be a community effort. There's no way we can do it on our own. This is ruining families and destroying neighborhoods. That's why we want people to have eyes and ears open, and people can't do that without information."
Peterson said she hopes residents can gain information at Tuesday's presentation and come back on May 3 ready to talk about the problem.
"We want people to soak it in, go home and talk about it with their kids, and then come back with questions for the second one," she said.