Kent MacLennan: Working to address Colorado's meth problem

— As executive director of the Colorado Meth Project, I meet people like Jennifer. She came from a good family in Denver, and at 17 she planned to begin pre-med studies.

Then someone offered her methamphetamine.

She knew nothing about meth and tried it. For Jennifer, the low point came when her apartment was raided as a meth lab.

Now, Jennifer is 25, has been clean since May 2008 and runs her own painting business. She says if she had known the facts about meth at 17, she would never have tried it.

Not Even Once Week will give Craig teenagers and families an opportunity to learn about the realities of meth abuse - illustrated by stories like Jennifer's - and take an important step to combat this highly addictive drug.

Colorado ranks No. 8 in the nation for meth use.

That translates into an estimated 49,000 users each year, but meth hurts thousands more, breaking up families and driving up crime. Most alarming is what we heard from Colorado teens.

The "Colorado Meth Use & Attitudes Survey" found that one in five teens said meth would be "somewhat" or "very easy" to acquire, and nearly one in four agreed their friends would not give them a "hard time" if they used meth.

Last May, the Colorado Meth Project launched a groundbreaking and aggressive effort to educate Coloradans and prevent teens from trying the drug. Ads like the billboard in Craig resonate with teens because teen focus groups told us these messages would cut through the clutter of their media-filled lives.

Our partners are crucial to the campaign's success. The Colorado Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs is working with us on a strong meth prevention curriculum for club participants in Craig and statewide.

With Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse, we hope to help make Moffat County meth-free and a better place to live.

Not Even Once Week begins Monday at the Craig Boys & Girls Club of Craig, 1324 E. U.S. Highway 40, and culminates with a family carnival from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday to celebrate Craig youths' power to make informed choices.

We hope to see you there.

Kent MacLennan is the executive director of the Colorado Meth Project.

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