DEATH * BY * METH

This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Meth taking toll on businesses, state (Arizona)

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/11454520/

Crystal meth is a serious problem for Arizona employers who find themselves on the frontlines of the latest drug war.

The illegal methamphetamine trade is linked to increased property crimes, shoplifting rings and identity theft. Businesses also are seeing lost productivity,

Law enforcement and state officials -- including Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas -- say crystal meth is a leading cause of criminal behavior in Arizona, some of which directly impacts Valley businesses.

Meth addicts often bankroll their habits via credit card fraud, forgeries, commercial burglaries and robberies, and shoplifting cold medicines and other products used to cook the addictive chemical stimulant.

"People will do anything they need to do to get their fix," said Glendale Police Department spokesman Michael Pena.

Victims include retailers and other businesses. Addicts often target their own employers, stealing computers or embezzling money. Addicts and those who produce the illegal drugs also are tied to the state's rising identify theft problem, prostitution and violent behavior.

Local law enforcement officials say meth and other drug abusers are responsible for a good portion of the commercial burglaries, retail shoplifting and thefts from cars in parking garages or shopping center parking lots.

Shoplifting and other thefts from retailers and pharmacies by meth rings have become so sophisticated and so pronounced that major chains are locking cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy and cashier counters.

Some chains, including Wal-Mart, limit how much cold medicine consumers can buy at one time, and a growing number of states and cities have adopted rules governing pseudoephedrine sales.

The Arizona Retailers Association also is working with law enforcement officials and stores to share information on meth-related shoplifting rings.

The Tucson Police Department reports that 50 percent of all property crime in the Pima County metro area is meth-related.

It's a similar problem in Glendale, according to Pena.

"Usually, every time we bust a person for possession of methamphetamine, such as a drug dealer, we usually find stolen items and evidence of ID theft on them," he said.

Unlike some other drugs, such as crack cocaine, the meth problem does not just impact inner-city areas, but is taking a toll on rural communities and suburbia.

The drug -- easy to produce with a mix of cold medicine ingredients and household chemicals -- cuts across racial and gender lines with substantial use by working-class whites and women.

Susan Jones, president of the anti-abuse group Drugs Don't Work in Arizona, said meth use has increased among U.S. workers by 86 percent over the past five years. It also jumped 13 percent in the first half of 2005 among workers in jobs and industries required by the federal government to test employees in high-risk and safety-related positions.

She said the drug has a bigger impact than other substances because of its fast addiction rate and extreme physical reactions.

"It's the drug that captures the employee the quickest," she said. "It's very easy to start using a lot."

Side effects of meth use include erratic, paranoid and sometimes violent behavior, as well as users being awake for hours and days on end, then suddenly crashing and sleeping for equally long stretches.

Jones said meth users sometimes will turn to other drugs -- such as prescription sleeping pills or marijuana -- to take the edge off the stimulated periods.

All that encourages criminal behavior, makes for inefficient workers and can put addicts' children, family members and co-workers at risk, she said.

A recent study found that meth users cost their employers $47,500 each in additional costs and lost time annually.

Arizona, and the Southwest overall, have a pronounced problem with meth use among their work force, according to drug test statistics from Quest Diagnostics, a corporate drug testing outfit.

Arizona, Texas and California have some of the highest rates of amphetamine use among drug-tested workers, according to Quest numbers from the first half of 2005.

Don Johnsen, a partner and employment expert with the Phoenix law firm Gallagher & Kennedy, said lost productivity is the biggest burden on business from drug abuse, which hits numerous industry sectors from construction to food service.

"The biggest impact (to businesses) is not in theft. The biggest impact is in lost productive time," said Johnsen.

He points to a U.S. Postal Service study that drug tested prospective employees and found that those who tested positive for drugs cost the mail service $100,000 each in additional costs and lost productivity over five years. Johnsen said postal service hiring managers were not informed of the results until after employees were hired.

Another 2004 study by the University of Arkansas and the Wal-Mart Foundation found that meth was costing businesses in the mega-retailer's home region of northwest Arkansas approximately $21 million annually in higher health care and workers' compensation costs. That translates into $47,500 annually in additional costs for a meth-addicted worker.

The National Federation of Independent Business and Jones have found that drug users are more than three times as likely to cause workplace accidents and file five times as many workers' comp claims.

Neil Alexander, an employment law expert and partner with the law firm of Littler Mendelson, said drug abuse and addiction creates substantial problems for employers, and he is getting more calls on the matter.

"If there is theft at work, the No. 1 suspicion on an employer's mind is whether it is related to drug use," said Alexander.

Alexander said he is seeing more employers being forced to take out restraining orders to keep addicted and irrational former employees away from work sites and offices.

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