Nicole Ferree, an incoming Moffat County High School sophomore, said methamphetamine use is on the rise in Colorado.
But, she and 14 other students from around the state are stepping up to do something about it.
During the last school year, Ferree was accepted to the Colorado Meth Project’s Teen Advisory Council.
On June 27, she attended the group’s orientation at the Young Americans Center for Financial Education in Denver. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers also attended the event.
Ferree said her selection to the council came as a surprise.
“I filled out the application thinking I wasn’t going to get in because I entered as a freshman,” she said. “Then, I got the call that I was going be able to do it, and it was awesome.”
According to a news release from the Colorado Meth Project, the council is comprised of 15 middle and high school students from 12 cities across Colorado.
Ferree is one of two students representing the Western Slope.
“Council members will be involved in a variety of outreach activities, and each will create and implement a service project in their community during the 2011-12 school year to raise awareness about the dangers of meth,” the release states.
Ferree said she isn’t sure what she’ll do for her service project, but it will somehow involve the organization’s motto: “Not even once.”
“The biggest problem is people think it’s OK to try it once and they’re not aware of all the serious problems,” Ferree said. “We want to raise awareness about what can happen if you use it just once.”
Ferree said it’s possible to get hooked on the drug from first use.
“It’s probably one of the most addictive drugs,” she said. “And, once you get addicted, it can make you feel like you’ve got bugs under your skin … your teeth fall out and you don’t eat because you’re on such a high, and so you get really skinny.”
Ferree said she doesn’t think meth use is prevalent among high school students.
“I don’t think there is (a problem) at the high school,” she said. “In the community? Yes.”
Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said meth use persists in the area.
“There were a couple different (meth-related) arrests over the course of the weekend,” he said. “It’s still here. We’re actually seeing a bit of an increase with meth.”
Jantz said stricter control of the U.S.-Mexican border has increased the market for local production of the drug.
“We’re seeing some home labs starting to come back again,” he said. “It’s a drug that’s still viable to drug dealers … and it’s still a nasty drug. It’s still highly addictive, it’s still highly debilitating.”
Jantz said groups like the Teen Advisory Council can have an impact.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Any time somebody is willing to educate and to keep it in the forefront … you might reach one person, and hopefully you’ll reach a lot more.
“I think they’ll make a vital impact, and I’m proud of them.”
At the orientation in Denver, Ferree said she learned how meth affects the body, how it’s manufactured and how you can spot someone who is using.
Users are generally withdrawn from friends and family, suffer physical ailments such as skin sores, decaying teeth and more.
“If you start taking meth, it’s going to change your whole life,” she said. “There’s no stopping it once you start it. … So, don’t start it.”
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