Strawberry meth removes any doubt about the scope of Carson City's drug problem

Editor's note: The Carson City Sheriff's Department seized "strawberry meth" during a search of a Como Street apartment on Saturday. It was the first time the pink, flavored meth, designed to be more attractive to young people, was found there.

Strawberry-flavored meth! Oh my gosh. If anyone is still wondering whether methamphetamine touches children, the marketing of strawberry-flavored meth in our community ought to turn them around.

Back in 2001, residents commented to a reporter from the Appeal that they hadn't called the Sheriff about methamphetamine use on their street because "it's adults, it doesn't affect children." This statement left some of us mumbling to ourselves - going up to friends and strangers and saying things like, "nobody gets it."

Efforts by Partnership Carson City have begun an important change in awareness. The recent show "Crystal Darkness" is a significant stepping stone in our journey to health. (See it periodically on Channel 26.) Here at CASA of Carson City, we were seeing and are still seeing parents for whom the lure of drug and alcohol abuse competes with the needs of their children. Sometimes the children come in second place. Part of the brain may still be saying, "I love my child." But, particularly with methamphetamine use, basic parts of the brain are focused on the next fix. As the drug takes over, the day to day tasks of child care can fall by the wayside.

These parents are not evil. You meet them every day. They work in our community. Their children go to school with other children. But they are in the grip of a giant. They are preyed upon by drug dealers and, in their need, may begin to deal drugs themselves.

Many of their children will get help because the sheriff, child welfare, the schools and others intervene. Millions of grandparents are now raising grandchildren in America. What can you do? On the one hand, it's simple. Call 887-2020, extension 6384, and report any meth use. On the other hand, open your eyes and talk about the reality with your friends and family. Conversation can change the world.

Across the state and the nation, we are struggling with what to do officially. We are building more prisons. In the short run, locking people up may look like an answer. But the ultimate goal needs to be treatment. Carson City's drug court and mental health court programs provide important links between intervention and help. Everyone needs to know how much the community now relies on services like the Community Counseling Center, Carson Mental Health and Behavioral Health Services.

There was a time when addiction looked like a problem of the poor, or was a problem for part of the town. There was a time when people could say it only affects adults. That's not true anymore. Strawberry-flavored meth! Oh my gosh.

• Chris Bayer is director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Carson City.


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