Anti-meth group expands focus to gangs, underage drinking | NevadaAppeal.com

Anti-meth group expands focus to gangs, underage drinking

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City’s anti-meth coalition broadened its scope recently to include other illegal drugs, the prevention of gangs and underage drinking.

During a luncheon Wednesday, Partnership Carson City’s steering committee unveiled the group’s new focus to a smattering of community members.

“Carson City is flush with good services and good people. The problem is, there’s a lot of fragmentation,” said coordinator Kathy Bartosz. She said the coalition’s goal is not only to educate the community on the dangers of all drug abuse, gangs and alcohol, but also give people one place to access resources.

In the three years since its inception, the mayor’s ad-hoc committee has talked to 40,000 students and teachers and printed more than 15,000 brochures and pamphlets warning the community of the dangers of methamphetamine use, said Barry Smith, director of the Nevada Press Association.

“The meth problem in Nevada went from ‘here’s another problem in the war on drugs,’ to some real insight into just how pervasive and destructive it is. Almost every newspaper in the state has done extensive stories,” he said.

Smith said that with the coalition’s efforts, methamphetamine use and abuse has been brought out into the open.

Statistics show that meth use is going down, while the use of other drugs is increasing, said Mary Bryan, of the Community Counseling Center.

Since the partnership started, her caseload has increased more than 40 percent.

“That means there are parents out there who want to get their kids in for evaluation,” said Bartosz.

Bryan said that in 2005, 29 percent of the people who took part in the center’s rehabilitation programs were meth users. In 2006, that number was at 42 percent.

“By 2007, we had it back down to 33 percent,” she said. “In 2004, less than 1 percent used opiates. In 2007, it was at 6 percent.”

She said opiates are heroin and pain medications like Oxycontin and the route to hard drugs come from a common source.

“We believe that teen alcohol use is the gateway to all drugs. Everything starts there,” she said.

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.




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