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These comments are from an earlier version of The Meth Epidemic that aired in February, 2006.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am upset at the fact that people seem to think that they way to solve drug problems is to get rid of the drug. But, people don't seem to realize that when we get "rid" of one drug, we just see another drug come up to replace it. There are underlying causes to why people turn to drugs. Why not get rid of those causes instead of drugs that do help honest people. I am affected by the laws that have changed since I can no longer get my allergy medicine easily. So now, I have to go to the store once every eight days to get my medicine. If I can't get to the store at that time, then I'm out of luck and I cannot breathe.

This country needs to stop trying to use a bandage on the cancer of drug addiction instead of attacking the cause of that cancer.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Dear FRONTLINE,

I believe that the reason this epidemic will never be under control is because the drug administration is profiting billions and that is the reason only addicts are arrested.

Our current congress makes laws that excuse the drug companies from even being investigated. Until we get a congress that puts people before special interest this situation will grow completely out of control.

Thanks for listening!!!

wallace McKinnon
Syracuse, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am an early childhood intervention specialist working mostly with children with developmental delays and disabilities between the ages of birth to three. In the last few years we have had an increasing number of children entering our program due to pre-natal methamphetamine exposure.

These infants, overall, exhibit some typical behaviors one would expect from drug exposed infants. They are irritable,jumpy, and developmentally delayed for several months, but they usually catch up to their peers by age 3. This is, at least, the pattern that I and my collegues have witnessed. We fear, however, that we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. What we know about most drug users is that they also use alcohol to come down from their high in conjunction to the drug they are currently using. There is a great body of research about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, due in a great part to early studies by the University of Alaska starting in the 70's.

Babies of mothers who consume even small amounts of alchohol at critical times of fetal development are greatly affected physically and neurologically, for life. Although we are not seeing the same pattern of early delays with fetal meth abuse as with fetal alcohol, we are pretty sure that as more research is done and these children mature, we will begin seeing the path of destruction done by this devastating drug. Often mothers who abuse alcohol and drugs do not seek pre-natal care out of fear that they will be turned in to the authorities. I find it unfeasible that a child who receives methamphetamines in the womb is going to dodge this bullet for the rest of his life. When we start seeing the long term effects, the real cost of the meth epidemic is going to become stunningly apparent.

How many more lives do we need to sacrifice until we are willing to see this tragedy for what it really is? If your researchers want a hot topic to explore, tell them this is the one. Those of us on the front lines of this epidemic are anxiously awaiting the information they can provide for us.

Sincerely,Eileen McNellis, FSSFamily Outreach, Inc.

Eileen McNellis
Butte, Montana

Dear FRONTLINE,

Back in the early 90's is when I started using meth. I liked it because of the energy it gave and the weight I lost. I did it not realizing what it would do to my life. I lived on the stuff, eating occasionally, and not sleeping for days and days. I picked at my skin because my skin would just crawl at times. I did meth for at least 7 years. I was addicted.

The drug IS NOT easy to give up, but I did it. NO rehab, but self determination. I seen people around me losing everything, I seen people around me getting thrown in jail, we had dea come to my house looking for a lab in front of my kids, thankfully we were not the cooks, we were just the users. Reality hit me dead in the face that this was not the life to live no longer, my kids and family and my health were more important. I decided NO more. It is not easy to get over drug addiction....I did it and have been clean for 10 years now.

After I was a user I can spot people easily that are on meth and it is everywhere. In my little town I was told that 1 out of every 3rd house are meth users or dealers.

I am at loss of ideas in how to end the manufacturing of meth as they always seem to find ways, but i can only hope and pray that the end will come for the manufacturing of meth. The only problem is, once meth is gone, (if ever) they will figure out another drug to ruin people's lives.

holden, missouri

Dear FRONTLINE,

I just watched your program on the meth epidemic. I find it unbelievable that this is the only place that I have heard an explaination of why I have to purchase my cold medicine behind the counter at the drug store.

I do understand the epidemic. I understand the cost of drug abuse. I do not understand why I am paying the price by not being able to purchase the medicine that has helped make my life better. Ironically, I was awake to watch your program because I was not able to breath, and not able to take the medicine that used to relieve this condition, because of the very topic of your program.

I am frustrated because the drug companies are adapting to lower sales by changing their product and making medications that no longer work. Thus, punishing us, the honest consumer. I am at a loss. What do I do? I don't have health insurance. I cannot afford to go to the Dr, pay for that visit, and then pay for a perscription. What are we, the law abiding, non-drug user supposed to do? Why are MY rights NEVER protected?

Sardis, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was mesmerized by this program, as it was the first really imformative program on the 'meth problem' I've seen.

As a former meth user with a BA in Psychology, rarely am I surprised by the damage done by this drug in our country. And, I'm a firm believer that until it hit the east coast was it even given any priority in Washington. However, I was disappointed that the 'brain science' failed to touch on the connection of drug abuse with mental illness, such as depression, in terms of the affinity for such 'dopamine dosing' drugs. Yes, meth users without their drug feel 'grey', but this is also a very descriptive symptom of clinical depression and other types of mental illness. I'm not excusing people, like myself, with clinical mental disorders,for using drugs, but I must point out the connection between mental disorders and 'self medicating'. There is a plethora of evidence that shows the link between people diagnosed with mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and street drug use as a form of 'self medicating', and to not acknowledge this is to miss out on a population that feels 'grey' before they've even tried methamphetamine. I remember the drug making me feel 'normal' for the first time, and until I was treated with proper doses of antidepressants, I had no other way to feel 'normal'--

Other than this one point, I found the research done by the Oregonian to be groundbreaking. I have no problem signing for cold meds, like Sudafed, and --- Yes, I'm convinced by the evidence that access to the chemical to make the drug is the key to solving this epidemic.

Pattie H
Needles, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am not a meth user & never have been. I recently fell in love with a man who was battling meth addiction for the past 13 years. When we met he was in a recovery phase & didn't tell me about his history of meth use. I had no idea. He was a good man & very ashamed of his history with the drug. He was trying his hardest to overcome the demons that the meth put into his head. We were only dating for a short time when he relapsed.

I stood by his side for a month & a half trying to be positive & upbeat, trying to help him with something I truly didn't understand. It was an exhausting month & a half of watching the man I love sucumb to somthing that was far stronger than him. It was sad. I wasn't sure what was going to happen with 'us' - but I knew something had to happen. I wasn't prepared or equiped to deal with an addiction as strong as that. Sadly, on November 10th I no longer had to worry about him any more. The decision had been made for me. On November 10th, 2006 he hung himself in the bathroom at his apartment. Thus catapulting me into the worst most intense pain I've ever experienced in my life.

I'm not sure which is worse - living with the addicted boyfriend, or the dead boyfriend. Even though I'm not a meth user, meth has managed to destroy my life as well. This drug truly is an epidemic. Everyone says so, but until you actually experience it that statement doesn't really make sense. The sadest part about all of it is, you don't have to be a user to be affected. This has changed me. I will carry this pain with me for the rest of my life.

I miss my boyfriend. 8.05.79 - 11.10.06...gone too soon.

Meth sucks.

~L.

Seattle, Wa

Dear FRONTLINE,

It is interesting after all these years to hear public opinion state the desire to fund rehabilitation. It was the Reagan Administration that tripled the "drug control" budget from about $500 million which funded rehab centers to $1.5 Billion for interdiction and to smugly state that the jail cell will be the rehabilitation center.

Doubling tripling quadrupling the spending year after year for decades has done nothing to "control" drugs or their use. Instead, it has increased their value in our supply/demand economy and increased the profitability and thus the lure to manufacture and traffic them. When the best financial opportunity for someone is to traffic drugs then it will happen again and again. Removing a drug dealer from the street creates the opportunity for someone else to grow their business or someone else to move in and form one. This culture is addicted to the wrong solution to the problem.

Like a drug addict perceives the need to imbibe an ever increasing amount of drugs to re attain and unsustainable lever of euphoria, our government has dipped further and further into our pockets to increase an effort which has faild to produce the appropriate margainal gain of return for money spent. As this show documents we only get temporary drops in purity or supply, not permanent ones. I Turning every drug user into a criminal hasnt solved the problem, it acutally decreases their chance for sucess in life by getting in the way of future employment. Is it a wonder that these people return to drug use and trafficking?

I'm not 100% sure what the answer is but I know what the answer is not, the status quo is not working, drugs are available to anyone that wants them. With the overwhelming presense of meth in the philadelphia gay community especially, I am truly scared to think that we have yet to reach the level of the problem documented in the western part of the country.

Thomas Feraios
norristown(philadelphia suburban), pa

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was so tired all of the time. I was working the graveyard shift at work and still trying to be super mom at home. I saw meth as a way to get everything done. I just didn't seem to have enough time in my day to do everything I thought I needed to do. I thought I needed to have a spotless house, my kids in after school sports, work full time, I wanted to lose weight. I thought meth was just going to be a temporary or occassional thing to just help get me by.

When I started using it wasn't very often, then it became a little more and then a little more. As I was watching myself and my husband and friends slipping away, I just kept thinking to myself that nobody grows up saying they want to be a meth addict. I saw some pretty scary people and scary homes when I went to go buy my drugs. I realized that I could end up like these people if I didn't quit. I realized that when I bought drugs from these people I was helping to support their bad choices and sad lives. I did not want to be a part of that any more. I should have reported some people to Child Services or the police, but I was afraid of losing my connection. I saw myself doing things I never would have done before meth. I still have to deal with that guilt. I almost lost my marriage due to meth.

I chose to quit when everyone else I knew was still using. I decided I wanted to be the person that gave my husband and my friends the strength to quit too. I made a choice for life and for my childrens life. I pray that others can also find the strength to make the choice to quit. It is a choice I still have to make every day, but it is worth it. I used for 2 years and I have now been clean for 1 year and 340 days. It keeps getting better every day. My husband quit 8 months later and my best friend 11 months later!

Jamie T.

Dear FRONTLINE,

dear frontline i had used meth for about 25 years not even ever thinking what it could do to my body.now just 4 yrs ago i was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension.iwas given 2 years to live because of my meth use i am slowly dieing! there is no cure.it is a rare disease caused by the chemicals used to make meth. i wished people were more aware of this disease. thank you for your program marlene

jennings
portland, oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a meth widow of sorts. Over the past several years I helplessly watched my fiance go from the most wonderful person I'd known to an untrustworthy, lying, stealing and god knows what else addict. When we met she hadn't been exposed to meth but through some acquaintances, unbeknownst to me, she was introduced to it and I watched in horror as her life plummeted out of control.

She almost immediately quit college because she just couldn't get there, fell asleep at the wheel several times, once on the way to pick up her son from daycare and ended up in the emergency room. Gone from having a nice place of her own and a brand new car to staying with friends and not making car payments, ruined credit and no friends left.

So far, several rehabs haven't worked. Trying to quit on her own has failed countless times.

After three years of going through every penny I had to try to help this once wonderful woman get her life back, I finally had to preserve myself and walk away.

I haven't heard from her in months. While I hope and pray that she manages to one day get clean and get what's left of her life back, I can only assume that she is still using.

Paul
Sacramento, Ca

Dear FRONTLINE,

I NAMED my daughter Crystal ~ after being so addicted to Methaka: crystalmeth in early 1980's, living in the D.C. area. I was so BURN-OUT I couldn't even talk - but w/rehab my daughter is now 18, and I'm alive at 50 to celebrate her life long goals with her. She knows she is named after this ! ~ as Ipromised to never do CrystalMeth again - and she has been my Angel. We must do ALL WE CAN to stop ! this killing drug.Thank you for letting me share

Charlotte M
PGH., PA.

Dear FRONTLINE,

My son is sitting in jail on meth charges. He and his wife lost everything to the drug. The family is going through a lot of pain. I agree that the pharmaceutical companies are culpable in the spread of meth made with ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. I also agree that incarceration is not the answer.

Unfortunately, many young people turn a blind eye to their friends using meth. They seem afraid to step up and say what is on their minds about the ill effects of the drug. They seem scared of the drug-fueled comments they may receive from their meth-addicted friend. This may be an intergenerational scourge, but in places with large populations of young people, it is a young person's drug.

Come on, Generation X (Y, or Z)! Get it together and start helping each other. How many of you knew my son was destroying himself with this drug? How many of you were willing to step in and put a stop to it? How many of you turned the other way when you saw him tweaking on the street?

Let's all help each other conquer meth. It has to start with all of us.

Mama Di
Denver, CO

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a recovering meth addict I can tell you that treatment does work but its all about what you do when you get out of treatment. It makes me sick to know that our government can spend millions of dollars that we Americans pay in taxes, to help other countries. However we aren't even able to help the people in trouble in our own country. The government keeps cutting budgets for treatment and things that people who are recovery from any addiction need help with.

Limiting the number of boxes of cold medicine someone can take only causes them to steal the products, therefore we aren't receiving any kind of prevention with that. And for those people who feel like it they are being inconvienced by having to go the pharmacy to get your cold medicine lets see how inconvienced you feel when a meth addict steals your purse so that they are able to get high or when your child becomes addicted. Don't think because you have such a nice home life and you are middle or even higher class families that it won't happen to your family. Addiction does not discriminate. And please don't think that just because you are one person that you can't make a difference, because you can.

Lori Brock
Medford , Oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a result of crystal meth use I became HIV positive (even though it happened 4 years ago, that was difficult to type). Thankfully, I no longer use it. It seems insane to me that ephedrine and psuedoephedrine are even allowed to be manufactured in any country. The cold pills the drugs produce are not terribly effective and there are plenty of other products available to soothe cold symptoms. I think the world can survive without Sudafed.

brooklyn, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

This site has some really good information. I will pass the site address on to our readers of The Lone Meth Ranger Newsletter.Meth Free - Thank God I have a friend "Jane Doe" that friends challenged to be meth free for one week. These friends utilized the free Meth Drug Test Kit offered by The Lone Methranger Newsletter in their challenge. After one week Jane Doe passed the meth drug test. Jane Doe stated that was the first full week she had been meth free for the past two years. Friends stated Jane Doe showed excitement and pride because of her accomplishment of passing the drug test and being meth free. The challenge continued the following week and the next week as well. Jane Doe has been meth free for over a month now and vows to never go back to the dreadful drug. I am encouraging Jane Doe to one day step forward and tell her story. The two years she spent using meth, were all in a downward spiral, she lost a lot. I would say more of the destruction meth caused in her life, but that is a story that only she should tell. There are many people in Jane Doe's shoes right now that want to quit meth. Like Jane Doe, some meth users just need a little help and perhaps a challenge from a good friend or two. - - Editor The Lone Meth Ranger Newsletter www.journalscape.com/thelonemethranger

Johnny Richards
Grantsville, WV

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posted feb. 14, 2006

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