News study reveals seriousness of meth problem

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A recent report says methamphetamine abuse is skyrocketing nationwide.

The National Association of Counties released a report Tuesday titled: "The Meth Epidemic in America."

According to the NACo report, more than half of the counties surveyed say meth is their biggest drug problem -- causing more crime than cocaine, marijuana or heroin.

Of the 500 law enforcement agencies surveyed, 70 percent say burglaries and robberies are on the rise as a result of meth.

Detective Dusty Schulze with the Craig Police Department said those numbers "absolutely" reflect what's happening in Northwest Colorado.

"People steal to pay for their habit," he said.

Schulze is also the commander of the Grand, Routt and Moffat County Narcotics Enforcement Team, GRAMNET.

"All of the burglaries, the assaults, domestic violence, sexual assaults ... go up (with meth)," Schulze said.

Schulze agreed with the report's finding that meth problems are spreading to parts of the country previously unaffected by the drug. But, Schulze said, meth abuse is still a bigger problem in Northwest Colorado than in many other parts of the country.

"There are still parts of the country that don't see it as bad as we do," he said.

Annette Gianinetti, one of the co-founders of Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse, said she hopes the report shows people meth is a nationwide problem.

"We've known all the while that it's everywhere," Gianinetti said. "It affects us all socially and economically."

The NACo report also looked at meth's effect on children, which Gianinetti said was her main reason for helping to form COMA.

"When the parents use meth, who's going to take care of those children?" Gianinetti said. "Those little kids just break my heart."

The report says more than 70 percent of out-of-home placements of children in Colorado are related to meth.

Beverly Counts, Moffat County Social Services casework supervisor, said the report closely matched local numbers, but she wasn't certain if Moffat County Social Services had been surveyed.

Counts said meth was a factor in 30 of the 43 out-of-home placements in Moffat County in May, about 70 percent.

She said the report shows that meth abuse is not just a local problem.

"I think it is a really widespread problem," she said.

NACo spokesman Jeremy Ratner said the Moffat County Sheriff's Office was included in the survey.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

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