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.

My Photo
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.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hatch unveils meth, gang initiative (Minnesota)

Chemical companies would also be held accountable
Bill Hanna
Mesabi Daily News

VIRGINIA — DFL Party gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch Thursday unveiled a five-part proposal to combat meth use and gang violence in the state. It’s a proposal that includes what he knows will be a controversial element — holding chemical companies responsible for lax security in the shipping of ingredients used to make the highly addictive meth.

“The methamphetamine problem was not even on the public or government radar in 1999 when I came to the attorney general’s office. Now it’s one of the biggest problems facing the state,” Hatch said during a visit to Virginia.

Hatch’s proposal takes direct aim at what he said was a lack of a proactive approach to problems by the administration of Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He said Pawlenty “... takes a reactive, Band-aid approach to government policy.”

The proposal includes:

Story Continues Below

• A comprehensive statewide gang strike force, which he said had funds slashed by Pawlenty since he became governor in 2003. “In fact, the Attorney General’s Office transferred money to the Gang Strike Force in order for a skeleton staff to keep it alive,” he said. The attorney general said that Pawlenty “eventually decimated the statewide nature of the Strike Force by creating a limited Metropolitan Gang Strike Force and by transferring the function in Greater Minnesota to multi-county drug task forces that do not operate on a statewide basis.”

“Our Strike Force will be strongly supported by our administration. It will be well-funded. It will be tough. It will be effective.”

• More “boots on the ground,” according to Hatch, referring to police at local levels. He said as governor he would push Congress to restore federal funds for local police.

• He would also work with the Legislature to increase Local Government Aid, which he said would help get more police on the streets. “The Pawlenty cuts to municipalities reduce the size of police forces around the state. This must be reversed.”

• A treatment plan to deal with meth addiction. He noted that the most recent legislative action called for a “study” of the most effective treatment method for meth addiction. “We need to quit studying this issue and start fighting it,” he said.

• And Hatch admitted the most controversial point of his proposal deals with companies that manufacture ephedrine and pseudoephidrine in other countries. “It is estimated that 20 percent of this chemical ends up in illegal meth labs. No company can lose 20 percent of its product without willingly allowing it to happen,” he said. Hatch questions whether the drug, which is manufactured in nine countries and banned in Europe, should even be allowed in the United States.

“We can send a shot across their bow. When the lawyers and investors and top officials of companies dealing in this drug realize a state or states mean business we will see change,” Hatch said.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

San Diego Hells Angels was sentenced (California)

SAN DIEGO – A former high-ranking member of the San Diego Hells Angels was sentenced Friday to 14 years in federal prison for his part in a conspiracy to murder rival motorcycle gang members and distribute drugs.
Mark Alan Toycen, the ex-Master-At-Arms for the Hells Angels in San Diego, pleaded guilty earlier to conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to commit to distribute methamphetamine.

He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Irma E. Gonzalez.
“The Hells Angels in San Diego are a gang that has brought violence and drugs to our streets for years,” said U.S. Attorney Carol Lam. “Taking down their leadership is a public service.”

The 46-year-old defendant admitted that he joined other members of the San Diego Chapter of the Hells Angels in a conspiracy to murder members of the rival outlaw motorcycle gang, the Mongols, and to distribute meth.

Toycen and nine other Hells Angels were indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2003.

Teen Challenge Graduates Renew Wedding Vows (Tennessee)

Teen Challenge Graduates Renew Wedding Vows

For a drug addict, making to the point of recovery takes courage and perseverance.
For one Tennessee Valley family it also has rewards .
They have the life they've always dreamed of, back on track.

It took eighteen months for Jesse Williams to make it here: It's graduation night.
Jesse Williams says, “I'm very blessed.”
Jesse and her husband Jonathon, entered Teen Challenge, a Christian based recovery program -- after the couple were BOTH arrested on Meth charges.

Jonathon explains, “It started out with us doing drugs and it got so bad, we just needed help and the law intervened and we both went to jail for it.”

Their three children were taken away by the state.
It wasn't until Jonathon reached out to Jesse that she signed up for the Teen Challenge program.

Jesse says, “Today, to me is about a second chance, about putting the past behind me, about being able to start again with my family and my husband.”
The graduation is over -- and Jesse dashes out.
Changing into a white wedding gown -- so the couple can renew their vows.
Jesse explains, “White means I'm not the same person I used to be. I'm now white as snow as the word says.”
It is a day the couple have waited a long time for and for Jesse, walking down the aisle this time holds new meaning -- and the renewal of their vows -- is a symbol of their hope to start a new life together.
Jesse vows to Jonathon, “Our fresh start together is more than I could ever hope for.”
The children will soon be reunited with their parents.
The family plans to live together in the East Lake community where all three children will be attending new schools.,%25Y

A mother's agony explodes as killer of son sentenced (Washington)

A mother's agony explodes as killer of son sentenced

By Natalie Singer
Seattle Times staff writer

A mother's anguished roar pierced the silence of a King County courtroom Friday as she confronted the man who killed and mutilated her 25-year-old son, Microsoft program manager David Barzilai.

"Just as he butchered David's body, he emotionally butchered our family," Linda Barzilai shouted, pointing to Ronald Lakey, who was awaiting sentencing in a red jail jumpsuit, surrounded by six sheriff's deputies.

"There are no words to express my grief and pain."

Minutes later, Superior Court Judge Douglass North delivered a sentence that left the family and friends of Barzilai, who was stabbed more than 200 times in his Belltown apartment in 2002, heartbroken all over again.

Lakey, who claimed a methamphetamine-induced delirium caused him to kill Barzilai, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the crime of first-degree manslaughter with the aggravated circumstance of deliberate cruelty.

The prosecution had asked the judge for a sentence of 40 years.

"This sentence does not reflect the monstrous brutality of this heinous crime that cost David his life," the victim's family said later in a statement. "We are devastated ... and fear for the people of Washington when this criminal is released."

Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty Creates Online Meth Offender Registry (Minnesota)

Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty Creates Online Meth Offender Registry And Announces Other Measures To Battle Meth

-- Continuing his effort to combat the methamphetamine epidemic, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty today announced the next phase in his crackdown on meth-related crimes, including the creation of an online Meth Offender Registry.

“Meth is one of the nastiest, most addictive and most harmful drugs ever to hit Minnesota,” Governor Pawlenty said. “We have tackled the meth scourge head-on by moving meth ingredients behind pharmacy counters, adding more agents to go after dealers, creating and funding the Gang and Drug Strike Force, and enhancing treatment programs in our prisons. Still there is more that can be done and today we’re launching the next phase of our assault against meth.”

See the rest of this story at:

Monday, July 24, 2006

Healing Helpers fighting meth use in Deep East Texas

By EMILY TARAVELLA, The Daily Sentinel

Over the past year or so, Melanie Richmond has seen first-hand how methamphetamine destroys lives.

"I have a high school classmate who is now in prison because of meth," she said. "A member of our extended family has been affected by it, and two children in our community have died in cases that involved meth."

Richmond, a Nacogdoches resident, started to wonder when people would wake up to the problem that is "right here in our own back yard." Then, she started wondering what she could do to wake people up.

Richmond, a massage therapist by trade, said she knew nothing about methamphetamine. But she had developed a passion for addressing this problem, because she had witnessed first-hand the havoc that it wreaks in people's lives.

"I went to a Mothers Against Meth Web site," she said. "But that organization focuses primarily on the drug, and I wanted to focus on the drug-endangered child – the innocent children who are affected by the use of meth in the home."

Richmond was eventually contacted by an organization called "Healing Helpers," and she immediately set to work to establish a chapter of the organization in Deep East Texas. She started the group in December 2005, and last month a conference was held to educate the community about the dangers of meth.

Richmond said about 50 people attended the conference, and she hopes next year's will be even bigger and better. She is also hoping to get a foot in the door at local schools, so she can work with students to make them aware of the incredible dangers associated with meth.

"We're also trying to get this issue on the legislative agenda," she said. "We want them to give Child Protective Services the capability to do more for these children. Too often, the case workers' hands are tied."

The Legislature made strides in the fight against meth when they limited the amount of ephedrine a shopper can purchase at one time. Ephedrine, found in many cold medicines, is one of the main ingredients in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

As far as Richmond is concerned, prevention is the key.

"Treating someone who is hooked on meth isn't like treating someone who is hooked on other types of drugs," she said. "They recommend 18 to 24 months of residential treatment. Even that yields only a 50-percent success rate."

As hard as it is to recover from an addiction to methamphetamine, Richmond said she has heard from former addicts that it can be done. And those former addicts applaud her efforts to increase prevention efforts in Nacogdoches.

"They don't know what will happen to them the first time they use it," she said. "They think they can do it once, and not get addicted."

But the sense of euphoria and energy and the insatiable urges created by meth use, are what keep the addicts going back for more, she said.

The insatiable urges are one of the most dangerous side effects of the drug, she said. Richmond has collected news stories from across the nation, detailing the horrendous things that people have done while under the influence of methamphetamine. She has read the stories and relayed them to others so often, she is now quite familiar with details of dismemberments, beheadings, stabbings, shootings and sexual assaults. In some of the most tragic cases, those under the influence of meth have committed some of these offenses against their own children.

Those are the cases that have driven Richmond to fulfill her personal mission to fight the growing problem of meth use in East Texas.

"At this point, we're still trying to figure out where we fit in," she said. "We're working with Nacogdoches Safe and Drug Free, and we're open to suggestions from the community. We want to serve and educate wherever we can make the most impact."

For information about Healing Helpers, visit, or call 552-9047.

Emily Taravella's e-mail address is

Just Say No

This is a story I found on a site I've been checking out lately due to the crisis in Israel. Kim

If Roy kicked the habit, you can too.

"Ecstasy, coke, LSD, mushrooms, Special K, Disco Biscuits, Love Doves -- you name it, I tried it. I was an addict. I knew it and so did everyone around me. But in the mad world of addictions, awareness is not nearly enough. And I knew that too."

I listened to Roy tell his story. He was short and gentle, with a trace of a lisp that he had obviously worked on. He was smart -- very smart -- and put together too. No one would have chosen him out of a lineup of drug addicts.

He spoke matter-of-factly, without crescendo of mood or affect. But his background is inconsequential. Suffice it to say, he grew up without love, without boundaries, and with questions that he couldn't ask, nor anyone to ask them to. As is so often the case, he dropped out of high school, ran with the wrong crowd and the downward slope was slick and swift. In retrospect, his drug dependence should really have surprised no one.

Although addictions experts agree that "cure" is a four letter word, Roy has been "clean" for more than a dozen years.

Roy's story is not over, but already it has a happy ending. Although addictions experts agree that "cure" is a four letter word in this dreadful and frightening labyrinth of pain and confusion, Roy, incredibly, has been "clean" for more than a dozen years. Today he spends a hefty portion of his time counseling kids who find solace in the same sordid dens of hallucinogens and amphetamines that Roy called "home" when he had no other. They call it payback.

We sat for over two hours that Wednesday afternoon, and while he had come to seek my counsel on an unrelated matter, it was I who walked away with newfound understanding and a profound insight.

I remember my fascination as I listened to his heroic tale of recovery but I wondered why he seemed to gloss over the details of his miraculous healing. In describing his rapid descent to a raging netherworld, Roy proved more than capable of being quite the master raconteur, reporting every tragic twist and turn in 3D Technicolor and all of its sad glory. But as he neared the end of his vivid and astonishing account of complete lifestyle reversal, I realized that he had never really explained how it all came about.

"What transpired that gave him the strength to give up drugs?"
"Who was it that impacted him so much, that he was able to halt his awful spiral forever?"
And why was he uncomfortable in sharing it with me?"

Roy took a deep breath. "You are quite right. My condensed report was quite intentional. I've told my story many, many times and after a while I began to notice that no one really understood. I've explained my very abrupt turnaround, but people just don't seem to get it -- so I switched to the new abbreviated format."

I accepted his words as a challenge and asked him to try again. He did.

"Okay. So I was at this NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting one night. It was during the darkest of days. All I knew was speed and crack. It took over my whole life. No, it WAS my life. One hit to the next hit. There truly was nothing else. It's hard to imagine if you've never been there.

"But someone convinced me to go to a meeting. 'Just try it,' he said. 'You can walk out any time you want.'

"So they went around the room and told their stories. They were awful -- every one of them. And I heard myself in them. It was weird. My turn came to speak, but I passed. I wanted to talk, but I was afraid I would cry. 'Some other time,' I mumbled.

"And then the fellow next to me began his sick story. I don't even remember it, but it was bad -- real bad... like 'my neighborhood' bad. But after a few minutes, he declared that he was currently completely clean of all drugs and had been for nearly five years! Considering how deep he had been in, that was quite a shocking statement. At that point, my ears really perked up.

I looked in the mirror and saw death. Then I said the six most important words I have ever uttered. 'You don't have to do drugs.'

"'And I'll tell you how I did it,' he said. 'It may sound strange, but one day I was washing my hands in the bathroom. I splashed my face with the water and looked in the mirror. I saw death. I stared at myself for a long time and then I said the six most important words I have ever uttered. You don't have to do drugs.'

"And with that, the man sat down. That was it. I remember feeling numb. You don't have to do drugs. The meeting ended soon thereafter. I walked all the way home repeating those half-witted, yet oddly magical words over and over. You don't have to do drugs.

"Believe it or not, it was an option that I had never considered. So immersed was I in this dreaded disease that I couldn't even fathom anything else. Not doing drugs was, I guess, like not breathing. It just couldn't be done. But when this guy, who was as deeply into it as I was, said those words -- he bowled me over like a locomotive.

"I walked in the door, gathered my brave family, and announced in a very loud voice, 'I DON'T HAVE TO DO DRUGS.' They probably snickered in total disbelief, but I have not inhaled, injected, snorted, or swallowed a narcotic since that day. You probably don't really understand what I have just told you, but that is my story."

I looked at Roy in silence. He was right. I didn't really understand. How could I? Isn't it obvious that nobody has to do drugs? Could he not see that doing drugs was a choice he had made for himself? And how could this most obvious, perhaps even trite declaration be miraculously transformed into some kind of mystical and ameliorative mantra?

Well, one thing is for sure. Despite all my lack of understanding and staggering questions, it did work. It worked for that man at the meeting and it worked for Roy. How?

Maybe full comprehension of this enigmatic "cure" is reserved for those unfortunate enough to need it. If that's the case, I'll gladly forego my interest. But perhaps a similar thought will offer us a partial understanding of this strangely effective tool.

Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, of Gateshead and Lakewood renown, once offered a similarly startling yet simplistic insight in discussing the sin of listening to lashon hara, slanderous talk. So many of us frequently chance upon a good, juicy tidbit of gossip. We're not looking for it, but the opportunity presents itself in totally innocent fashion -- at a dinner or a wedding or a ballgame or just in the middle of a nice shmooze.

Gross or lurid stories about people we know are often so beyond the pale that many of us eschew the conversation -- by tuning out or changing the topic. No problem. But the discussion could be completely benign -- about a matter that is either silly, irrelevant or totally unimportant -- and suddenly a negative comment or association is communicated. And the damage has been done.

The root of this scourge, says Rabbi Salomon, is plain old curiosity. And the remedy is a simple six word strain, "I don't have to know everything!"

We frequently forget that the power of choice is always with us.

For many people, that little unsophisticated proclamation can be a volcanic jolt. Not knowing what is happening all around them, in glorious detail no less, is indeed unfathomable. For some, it may practically be akin to not breathing. They live to satisfy their insatiable need to know everything about everybody. How sad.

I think that what it boils down to is essentially man's innate ability to choose. God's greatest gift to humankind is choice. Unlike the animal kingdom who responds only to their instinct, man possesses the capacity to think through his options and make a reasonable decision. This is not to say that he always does that -- far from it. But he can.

What happens is that we frequently forget that the power of choice is always with us. We get so caught up in old behavior patterns and instinctive reactions, that we fail to consider that we REALLY DON'T HAVE TO DO IT THAT WAY. The recognition of that reality can be liberating, exhilarating, and incredibly powerful. And the accompanying potential for genuine and lasting change is limitless.

It doesn't really matter what our particular habit, vice, or addiction is. For some it is drugs, for others it is gossip. It could be food, the internet, sarcasm, or just wasting time. We all have negative behavior patterns of some size, shape, or personality.

What Roy is telling us, is to open our eyes and look in the mirror.

It doesn't HAVE to be that way.

Please find this story online at:

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Community has eye out for meth users in new program (New Mexico)

Vanessa J. Chavez El Defensor Chieftain Intern,

With the number of methamphetamine users rising, the Socorro community has decided to take action.
Along with other states and cities in New Mexico, some Socorro community members have joined a program called Meth Watch.
"Meth Watch is a voluntary program that involves many partners, including law enforcement, state and local public officials, community activities and drug prevention personal," said Jim Helgert, Meth Watch state coordinator.
The program is designed to help curtail the theft and suspicious sales of products used in the illicit manufacturing of meth, and also trains local residents to be involved and report suspicious activities, Helgert said. The program is designed for everyone, he continued, including businesses, ranchers and schools.
The crime prevention methods that Meth Watch offers training in are participation in neighborhood safety, watching for suspicious activity in neighborhood or community, training employees, increasing employee and community awareness about store theft, a "tamper tag" program on anhydrous ammonia tanks for farmers and ranchers, and coordinating with existing prevention programs in the schools and community, Helgert said.
The presentation of the Meth Watch Program was held June 28 at Socorro Mental Health Center, where Jim Helgert met with a number of concerned individuals representing local businesses in town.
The presentation was a general session that explained what meth is, the use of meth and how the Meth Watch program trains not only individuals, but also whole business who deal with people buying meth material, such as lye, camping fuel, anhydrous ammonia, iodine, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
Also, after the general session, a free training session was offered for local retailers and businesses.
Meth Watch is not so an individual can plan the program and say "I'm better," it's a community thing to do together, Helgert said.
To participate in the Meth Watch program, or for more information, contact Nadine Ulibarri-Keller at (505) 835-0971 or (505) 835-8658.

OUR OPINION: Put meth problem on front burner (North Dakota)

Our view: North Dakota would do well in following Minnesota's successful example.
During a recent visit with the Grand Forks Herald editorial board, Minnesota State Rep. Jeff Johnson, R-Plymouth, candidate for attorney general, reported a spectacular 78 percent decrease in the number of methamphetamine labs in Minnesota.

In part, the good news is a result of a law that went into effect in August 2005 and was sponsored by Johnson. The law restricts sales of pseudoephedrine-containing pills (decongestants) to only two boxes per person a month and increases the criminal penalties for those making methamphetamine.

Meth is a mean master. It is extremely addictive, and users struggle to free themselves from its clutches. Unfortunately, it's as easy to cook as a chocolate cake. The recipe is simple: cold medication (main ingredient) and chemicals such as brake fluid, drain cleaner, alkaline batteries, anhydrous ammonia and phosphorus from matches.

This toxic "cake" can leave the user with the "telltale" disintegrated teeth and a permanently damaged central nervous system. Users often are paranoid, aggressive and violent. Innocent children of users also are endangered by the cooking chemicals and left with permanently damaged systems.

Johnson says he isn't stopping with the law, which is only Phase One of his Meth-Free Minnesota Plan. Next, he plans to include public education, treatment programs that work, tougher enforcement, increased penalties for meth importation and coordinated regional efforts with neighboring attorneys general.

Minnesota's attack on this problem is commendable. Other states could learn from this example. North Dakota is seriously affected by meth, the Drug Enforcement Administration indicates.

In North Dakota, the meth threat is two-pronged. Mexican organizations operating out of California and Washington are transporting and distributing in North Dakota. Unfortunately, methamphetamine can be easily produced in small laboratories a few ounces at a time. That makes abandoned houses in isolated, rural areas and on Indian reservations, where jurisdiction is sometimes cloudy, ideal kitchens for cookers.

North Dakota is a state dependent on agricultural industries, which means there is a high level of anhydrous ammonia available around the state for legitimate use - a calling card for meth cookers. The state also has four large reservations.

There is little doubt methamphetamine is a serious problem in North Dakota and Minnesota. Johnson has a good plan - Meth-Free Minnesota Plan. North Dakota

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Transitional living facility under fire (Union Grove, Alabama)

It's a place where drug addicts can re-build their lives, so why are so many people complaining?

"We chose this place because it's so remote from any known dealers," explains President of Stepping Ahead, Dr. Mary Holley.

Maybe not the place for drug dealers, but a home to others.

Residents in Union Grove say the transitional living facility Dr. Holley has in mind is not welcome.

"I doubt you would find one supporter on the road if they answered honestly," says Scott Morgan.

"It's not in a neighborhood that's full of drugs, it's not in any neighborhood as a matter of fact," argues Dr. Holley.

Holley says you can't even see another house from the facilities front porch, but neighbors say it's what they can't see that worries them the most.

"Larson, vandalism, burglary, there's all kinds of concerns that go through your mind," says one neighbor.

Jeff Bodine will openly admit a prior addiction, and wants to help others at this particular facility get through their problems.

However, Bodine watching over addicts raises more concern from neighbors.

"My concern is he is a recovering addict, is he truly recovered," says Carla Spann.

"The biggest tool against the disease of addiction is the recovering addict," says Bodine.

Many of the residents wanted to stress that they're glad that people will be getting help, they would just rather it not be in their back yard.


Mail Tribune
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a series of stories on addicts recovering from meth use. The stories run on the first Sunday of each month.

Forging checks to help fuel her methamphetamine addiction, Cynthia Kloosterman imagined banks and insurance companies as her only victims.

But while Kloosterman did time for her crimes, one face stood out among the victims of identity theft — her own.

"There's no honor among thieves ... there really isn't," she said. "I almost feel like I should just take it because I deserve it."

After trying meth for the first time at age 30 with an ex-boyfriend, Kloosterman lost a succession of jobs. Crime soon paid the bills and funded her habit. A computer scanner and software that's widely available at office-supply stores were the only tools Kloosterman needed to manufacture realistic checks in whatever amounts she desired. The checks' legitimate bank account numbers belonged largely to grocery stores and taverns.

Because banks and credit card companies make good on stolen funds, Kloosterman told herself she wasn't really taking from people. Comparing herself to lifelong addicts who had never served any serious time, Kloosterman never believed she'd go to prison.

Two and a half years later, the 35-year-old Gold Hill resident said she believes some higher purpose was behind it all. She hasn't used meth since stepping into Wilsonville's Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in February 2004 and has no urge to.

But if a higher power rescued Kloosterman from herself, karma wouldn't be denied its due. Kloosterman learned while still in prison that someone had stolen her identity using the Social Security card and driver's license she had left in a friend's care.

Now creditors are trying to collect $14,000 in debts incurred against someone using Kloosterman's Social

incurred against someone using Kloosterman's Social Security number. The thieves also set up and defaulted on

Security number. The thieves also defaulted on utility accounts in her name.

Kloosterman is another person entirely, as far as Oregon's DMV is concerned. After her release from prison, she discovered that another woman had paired her photo with Kloosterman's personal information on a state identification card. The woman's traffic tickets were attributed to Kloosterman, who still has to appear in court to straighten out the mess.

"For someone around here to use my name, it's almost kind of funny," she said.

Her reputation as a criminal has kept Kloosterman from reporting the identity theft to local police, who, she fears, wouldn't take her seriously. Unlike many criminal offenders who use a trip to the probation department as a chance to socialize, Kloosterman wears sunglasses and a hood, hoping no one will recognize her. Kloosterman can't bring herself to face one local officer in particular: her brother, a Jackson County sheriff's deputy who was among her jailers. He tried to persuade her numerous times to give up meth, she said.

"He would just beg me to stop," she said. "I know he was embarrassed."

She hasn't spoken to him in more than two years. Other family members have remained in denial. A Medford native and mother of three teenagers, Kloosterman said she never so much as drank before injecting her first hit of meth. Her children went to a private Christian school in hopes that they wouldn't mingle with kids who used drugs. Everything she knew about meth came from TV.

"When I did know, it was too late," she said. She can be thankful, however, for small miracles. She escaped diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, both easily transmitted through shared needles. Getting her high-school equivalency diploma while in prison was the first step in obtaining higher education. And she's hopeful that never committing any crimes against her family will make reconciliation possible.

"I can't change what happened," she said. "All I can do is change myself now."

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail

Kids at meth scenes take toll on police

Matthew Thompson
Daily Mail staff

Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford said methamphetamine busts in homes where children are present are taking a growing emotional toll on his officers.

Last week, deputies carried out such two such raids.

"The poor kids just don't have a choice," Rutherford said. "These little kids are being put into a situation where their health is in jeopardy. It's just really sad."

Deputies arrested Avery Caroll Anderson, 30, and Marion DaLynn Harless, 27, at a home on Fore Drive in Charleston. There were two young children, whose ages weren't listed, and an 8-month-old infant at the residence.

Anderson and Harless each were charged with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory and three counts of exposure of children to meth manufacturing.

The second bust occurred at a home at 1906 Iris Drive near Sissonville, where four children from 1 to 17 were found.

Heather Gae McNamara, 35, was arrested and charged with attempting to operate a clandestine drug lab and exposing children to meth production.

Rutherford said when children are discovered in these situations, deputies immediately escort them from the home. They then call the state Department of Health and Human Resources, and the children are taken into protective custody.

Last year, the state removed 158 children from homes where meth-making was suspected. About 122 children were removed in the region that includes Kanawha, Putnam and Cabell counties.

Only 13 children were taken from homes with suspected meth labs in the Wheeling, Morgantown and Parkersburg areas. Seven came from the Martinsburg and Elkins area, and about 16 children were removed in Beckley, Princeton and Bluefield.

Rutherford said the department mainly sees children between the ages of 2 and 7. And he said the appearance of young children living in sometimes-squalid conditions is tough for his deputies.

"It really takes a toll on the officers," Rutherford said. "To think these little kids are being put into a dangerous situation like this. You could almost cry from the way they are treated."

Some meth-making takes place in motel rooms or in the outdoors, but Rutherford said a vast majority occurs at the homes of suspects. In turn, children become affected physically from toxic meth-making chemicals.

"Also, a lot of times, these kids appear to be unkempt," Rutherford said. "The people get so wrapped up in using meth, they have a tendency to not take care of the kids."

In March 2005, in response to the growing meth problem, a special meth tip line was set up.

The number is 357-4693.

But even with the tip line and a commensurate increase in meth busts, Rutherford said the fight is far from over.

"Although it slows down from time to time, we are still expecting to see more," he said. "It's a highly addictive drug."

Contact writer Matthew Thompson at or 348-4834.

Experts Say Rural Meth Addicts Hardest Hit (Arkansas)

By Maria Hegstad

Stephens Washington Bureau •

WASHINGTON — Methamphetamine use has hit rural communities the hardest, and those also are areas where treatment programs are most limited, experts told Congress on Wednesday.

A common but untrue belief is that meth users can’t overcome their addictions, said Richard Rawson, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. Rawson said his UCLA clinic treats people addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin and meth. Meth users have success rates similar to other addicts.

But those addicts who most need help can’t get to it, said Leah Heaston, a director of treatment centers in rural Indiana, told the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources.

Finding and retaining qualified staff is difficult in rural areas, Heaston said. She described constant job openings at her clinics and pointed out the high cost of training new staff.

Arkansas is among 12 states with nearly 1 percent or more of the population over the age of 12 having used meth in 2001, 2002 or 2003, according to a study released last fall by Department of Health and Human Services.

Seven percent of high school girls in Arkansas and 10 percent of high school boys reported using meth in a U.S. Center for Disease Control survey released earlier this month.

One positive sign for rural areas is the decrease of home-cooking meth labs, said Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., the subcommittee chairman. The reductions can be attributed to laws limiting the sale of cold medications containing psuedoephedrine, an ingredient in home-cooked meth, said Bertha Madras, a deputy director in the White House’s drug control policy office.

But Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said police in his rural district have seen addicts circumventing these laws. He asked Madras how law enforcement and drug treatment programs could better cooperate.

Madras lauded drug courts, which she said provide the best means of providing users with incentive to attend treatment. McHenry agreed, but said in rural areas there aren’t enough of them. Heaston also described transportation problems: Many rural communities have no public transit system.

Cost for treatment is another problem. The treatment program touted to congressmen on Wednesday, the Matrix Model, costs $6,000 per person, Heaston said. Many users are not able to afford it. They have often been in jail, have felony drug records, and have lost their homes, cars and jobs because of their drug use, she said.

Her description was confirmed by two recently reformed meth addicts who testified. Darren and Aaronette Noble of St. Louis described years of jail time, drug use, arrests and living out of their car.

“When I was using meth, I felt dead most of the time,” Aaronette Noble said. “My teeth and my hair were falling out, and other people had custody of my children.”

The Nobles and another former meth addict, Russell Cronkheit of Fairfax County, Va., described the transformation that treatment and recovery meant for their lives. Their message: Meth addiction can be treated, but it is difficult.

Poster helps profile the ugly side of meth (Nevada)


The Daily News

BULLHEAD CITY - The Bullhead City Police Department is getting the word out that methamphetamine is dangerous. They're literally illustrating the fact with posters showing before and after pictures of meth users, as part of the “Meth! Not In OUR Town!!” campaign.

Police Chief Rodney Head came up with the idea for “the Ugly Side of Meth” posters, which contain local law enforcement information and drug treatment options.

Wednesday, police were passing out the posters to businesses. “We wanted to get those distributed as much as we possibly can in the community,” the chief said, “and remind people that they can give us a call or stop by the police station and we'll be happy to provide them with a poster.”

With the idea that a picture can be worth a thousand words, the posters show people before they started using meth and photos of them after a short period of time - 3 months in the case of a man featured on the poster. The pictures illustrate how meth ravages the human body.

“The message should be loud and clear,” the chief said. “We are unified in this fight against this drug.”

MEADA presents message of hope (Minnesota)

This MEADA (Methamphetamine Education and Drug Awareness) message was written by Margaret Munson, Wright County Court Services.

Probation officers with Wright County Court Services frequently deal with offenders who have chemical dependency-related issues. The most critical of them is methamphetamine.

About four years ago, the court system asked for a program that addressed meth use with pre-trial controlled substance cases. From that, a pre-trial drug testing program was developed. In the beginning of the program, it felt like everyone was using, no one could stay clean before or after treatment. But in the last four years, things have really improved. More individuals are supervised than should be, but the ones that come into the system have more choices. Local programs have done an excellent job expanding their program to adapt to the needs of the addicted client. The providers have realized that the addict needs more than just 28 days to heal and recover. A positive outcome of this hard work is that more people are entering treatment and embracing recovery, rather than taking up space in the jail system.

The formation of MEADA two years ago, along with the other work going on in Wright County, is making a true difference for all citizens in our county.

When drug offenders choose rehabilitation over jail time, everyone benefits in the long run. A local woman who has been under supervision for the last 16 months is now a poster child for hope and recovery. At first, this 49-year-old petite woman weighed about 120 pounds and had very few teeth left in her mouth as a result of her meth abuse. Her involvement with the manufacture of meth in travel trailers earned her a trip to jail. When she was bailed out, the problems continued. Her children were taken away and she wasn’t allowed to have contact with them. She was left homeless with no job, support and addicted to meth. She went to live with a friend where they used meth and was in and out of jail several times.

The day her life started back on track was the day she entered a drug treatment program. Her treatment experience opened her eyes to see how the drug damaged everything she knew. She is still sober from meth.

Upon completion of her treatment program, she became involved with a group called “Network for Life.” This organization connected her with employment, a place to live and she received needed support. Over the last year she has become more independent, living on her own, allowed to have contact with her children and has health insurance. There is a criminal case still pending, but due to the hard work she had done, things look more positive for her today. She recently showed up at the office smiling, with a new set of false teeth and they were beautiful.

Looking at this woman was a great reminder that there is hope and life after meth.

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Federal money for drug fight drying up (Montana)

By JENNIFER McKEE, IR State Bureau - 07/02/2006
HELENA — Federal money for Montana’s drug crackdown task forces has shrunk more than 61 percent in the last two years, pushing more of the costs on local taxpayers.

“If this funding trend continues the communities aren’t going to be able to make up the difference,” said Attorney General Mike McGrath.

For now, McGrath said, local governments have scraped together enough money to keep the task forces going for the year that began July 1. But he cautioned that situation is only temporary.

“We’ve been told by the local communities that they will not be able to make this level of match next year and they’ll have to make cuts,” McGrath said.

One group, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, which includes Butte and Helena, may even have to disband.

Two years ago, Montana received about $2.5 million in Department of Justice anti-drug money divvied out through the federal Edward Byrne grant programs. These so-called Byrne grants then go to Montana’s Board of Crime Control, which fans the money out to drug task forces throughout the state.

Remainder of this story can be seen at: