Part One: Identifying the drug problem
BY JEFF CLARK
If one were to ask Monroe County Sheriff Andy Hood the biggest problem facing the county, he would sum it up in one word: drugs.
amp”Drug use and abuse is on the rise in Monroe County,amp” Hood said. amp”Current drug trends tends to be marijuana, crystal meth, and crack cocaine. Marijuana is a drug that people tend to believe is less harmful to you, but it usually is the gateway to heavier or more addictive drugs. Crystal meth and crack cocaine is highly addictive and the more people that are dependent on it, it drives the demand up for the drug. The number of people that are addicted to crystal meth and crack cocaine is also on the rise.amp”
Out of the drugs named, Hood said crystal meth is both the most addictive as well as the most dangerous.
amp”Over the past two years, the Sheriff’s Department has had about a 90 percent increase of meth arrests that are related to the manufacturing and possession of the precursors,amp” Hood said. amp”We have had 52 in 2008. Meth is the most addictive drug on the streets. We have had numerous meth-related arrests so far this year. Meth is a very debilitating drug – it works from the inside out.amp”
According to the Partnership For A Drug Free America, amp”The effects of meth are similar to those of cocaine but longer lasting. Meth can cause erratic, violent behavior among its users. Effects include suppressed appetite, interference with sleeping behavior, mood swings and unpredictability, tremors and convulsions, increased blood pressure, irregular heart rate. Users may also experience homicidal or suicidal thoughts, prolonged anxiety, paranoia and insomnia.amp”
Long time usage of the drug can include amp”brain damage (similar to the effects of Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease), coma, stroke or death.amp”
One way Hood is trying to combat the problem is by using the DARE program to try and reach children at an early age, so that they may make wise life choices further down the road.
amp”The program has been very effective,amp” Hood said. amp”The kids have really taken to the deputies inside the schools and the relationship between students and deputies are great. We have solved burglaries and recovered stolen property based on tips that students have gave the deputies in the schools.amp”
Hood said the program is funded directly out of money received from court fines.