Tom Cramer speaks to a crowd Thursday at the Holiday Inn of Craig during a "Drugs in the Workplace" seminar sponsored by the Craig Chamber of Commerce. The seminar was intended to help employers spot drug use in the workplace.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Tom Cramer speaks to a crowd Thursday at the Holiday Inn of Craig during a "Drugs in the Workplace" seminar sponsored by the Craig Chamber of Commerce. The seminar was intended to help employers spot drug use in the workplace.

'Very sobering'

Chamber of Commerce seminar puts faces to meth abuse

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What to look for

Signs of methamphetamine abuse

• Increased attention and decreased fatigue

• Increased activity

• Suppressed appetite

• Feelings of euphoria or a "rush"

• Increased breathing

• Increased sweating

Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Report, Moffat County Sheriff's Office

— Christina Currie, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director, said she heard it too many times to remember.

The comments came from Chamber members, who include representatives of the local business community.

The remark, she said, was "I can't find anyone who can show up and pass a drug test."

"You just hear it in so many contexts," Currie said.

The Chamber sponsored a seminar Thursday afternoon at the Holiday Inn of Craig to address that complaint. The event, titled "Drugs in the Workplace," was one of several seminars in the organization's Business Education Series.

The Chamber enlisted the help of Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse, a grassroots organization created five years ago to stamp out area methamphetamine abuse and to help employers spot workers under the influence of the highly addictive narcotic.

COMA members Tom Cramer and Ryan Hess, Moffat County Sheriff's Office patrol deputy, listed some of the telltale signs of meth abuse to an audience of 42 people.

The indicators include excessive sweating, tremors and paranoia when users are on the drug, followed by a drastic decrease in productivity when their usage drops.

Nonetheless, Hess and Cramer cautioned, no sure-fire formula exists for determining whether an employee is using the drug.

Drug tests can be tampered with, Hess said, and meth abuse side affects vary among individuals.

"There's no stereotypical meth user," he said.

A slideshow presentation during the seminar showed before and after pictures of local residents arrested for methamphetamine charges.

Most pictures showed individuals with drooping skin, unkempt hair and faces pockmarked with sores resulting from meth abuse.

Almost all showed dazed or subdued facial expressions.

The images left an impression on Joe Bird, Cook Chevrolet, Jeep and Subaru service manager.

"That was very sobering to me," he said.

The seminar gave Bird information he plans to use on the jobsite and in his home.

"It did give me some key points, as far as what to look for in the workplace," he said.

As a father of three school-aged daughters, Bird said he intends take what he learned Thursday to heart.

Cramer spoke to the drug's allure - something he's experienced personally.

"It makes me ashamed that I was part of that for 12 years of my life," Cramer said after the slideshow presentation. "I could have had my picture up there easily."

Cramer stopped using meth about five years ago. Still, the memories of drug abuse remain.

Under the influence of the drug, "I felt like I could do anything," he said.

"It made me feel like I was worth something," Cramer said. "Inside, I felt worthless."

Personal accounts such as Cramer's helped make the seminar successful, Currie said.

"COMA always puts on a great program," she said. "They don't do it using the facts and figures that don't really affect people.

"They use those personal stories, and that's really what makes a difference."

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