The Colorado Meth Project wrapped up a week of talking with Craig students about meth use and prevention with a festival Thursday night at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.
After spending the week presenting to schools about meth prevention and utilizing the group’s new website, www.coloradomethproject.org, there were activities for kids at the Boys & Girls Club including face painting, cookie decorating, headband making and other activities.
Jonathan Judge, program director for the Colorado Meth Project, said this is the fourth year his group has been in Craig.
Judge said he addresses what the drug is, what addiction does, what the drug does to individuals both mentally and physically and also the consequences using meth has on the user, their friends, family and community in his presentation.
Judge said his group targets students in middle school because of statistics showing more than two-thirds of meth users in Colorado start using before age 25, and one-third use well before age 18. Colorado is number seven in the nation for highest total number of meth users age 12 and older.
“Its a little more pronounced in smaller communities,” Judge said. “The main issue we’re facing right now is that meth is at its highest levels on the street and also its highest availability in quite a long while.”
The project’s motto is, “Meth, not even once.” Judge said addiction in meth users occurs almost immediately.
“It’s an all consuming drug. It takes over who they are as an individual,” Judge said. “It can really change how they process the world and how they interact with friends and family. They tend to withdraw from friends and family, they aren’t able to keep a job, they become a massive drain on society.”
Judge said it’s estimated meth costs Colorado $1.4 billion dollars annually in related expenses, with some of the money going to jails and emergency rooms to house and treat users.
But the question remains of why kids try meth.
Judge said a number of things could draw kids in; including what he said is the clichéd peer pressure reason.
“It’s a real issue. But meth tends to be somewhat parasitic,” Judge said. “The reality is it floods the brain with dopamine, making the user feel great. There’s the escape that way. It’s a short-term fix for long-term problems. Those band aids don’t work at all.”
Judge said some people will very quickly experience physical consequences such as loss of hair, worsening complexions and problems with bone density and muscle tone.
“It may happen within days or weeks for some. Others may take a little longer. But it catches up to absolutely everyone,” Judge said. “ What you see on the outside, the meth mouth and the sores is nothing compared to what it’s doing internally. It’s a full body experience.”
Moffat County High School student, Nicole Ferree, is a part of the project’s teen advisory council, and was at the festival.
She said she thinks there is a problem in Craig, and as a more open rural community, the problem is easier to see.
“I think it’s really important for people my age to be involved. Peer teaching is better than adult on youth,” Ferree said. “Kids see us as more of a role model.”
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org