By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
There are some simple things that our leaders could focus on:
Assessing who in Arizona is using meth and how they're getting it. A good start: Making sure that the state's drug questionnaire for high school students asks about meth directly, as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America has suggested.
Compiling information about treatment options for people who want it.
Developing recommendations for probation officers, who are often saddled with determining how long those in the justice system must stay in treatment. Some counselors suggest that longer time in treatment is essential for success; if that's true, probation officers should be told that.
Developing an effective public health campaign focused on meth and its dangers.
Addressing the link between meth use and unsafe sex that leads to AIDS and pregnancy.
Looking at alternatives to incarceration, particularly for meth moms.
Creating effective drug education programs.
These are not tasks that the cops can shoulder by themselves, and they're not within the scope of the Phoenix City Council. For Arizona to get anywhere, the governor is going to have to get involved, rather than just spouting rhetoric suggesting she's been on top of the problem.
It was seven years ago that New Times writers first took an in-depth look at the state's meth habit. Back then, we were describing the beginnings of a new problem sweeping metropolitan Phoenix and Arizona.
Today, that problem is taking more lives (and ruining countless others) than ever.
Which leads to our final notion: If our policymakers continue down the wrong path in fighting this drug, we will be writing another meth series in seven years, maybe sooner. If Arizona's leaders fail to invest public money in the right treatment and education, the financial burden to law enforcement and social service agencies will be tremendous, far greater than the original investment.
And that's just the economic story. The human story will be a heartbreaker, about a still greater swath of murder, mayhem and broken lives left in the path of the perfect drug, methamphetamine.