Longform

Meth Treatment

Page 5 of 5

The treatment problem is one of the big things that Fight Against Meth hopes to take on. It's something they've all lived with -- and something they can't believe no one else is talking about.

One woman, Adell, mentions that she saw an anti-meth commercial sponsored by County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

The commercial, called "Extreme Meth-Over," started airing in November. Using a game-show setup, it shows the nasty dental work and scabby skin associated with meth use.

It is, according to Thomas' office, the first time the county attorney has created an anti-drug commercial. But it's a smart spot, and it drew the women's praise.

"I thought, 'Somebody is doing something,'" Adell says, pleased.

"Finally, somebody is doing something," Paula says.

"Yeah," Adell agrees. "Finally somebody other than Georganne."


This past summer, Jamie made one more stab at changing her life. Heavily in debt, spun out, and dealing once more with a car repossession, she packed up her stuff and moved to Alaska to live with her dad.

She had no way of getting meth there. She didn't know anyone in Alaska, much less a dealer, and her dad was watching her like a hawk.

She got clean, and she felt stronger every day.

But then she started to gain weight. She remembered how much she'd hated feeling chubby.

"I got so fat," she moans. "I couldn't stand it."

Unbeknownst to her parents, Jamie persuaded a friend to book her a ticket home. And once she got home, she called up her old friends and jumped right back in.

She was awake for four days. Smoking. Getting spun.

She didn't call her mother for two months. She was too embarrassed.

"I had nothing good to tell her," she says.

Now she's stabilized, a bit, but Jamie will be the first to tell you that she's balanced in a precarious place. Meth isn't like pot, where you can use a little and everything works out okay.

One false move, one bad day . . .

She wants to meet a guy and get married and have kids. Go back to school, get a better job. Work as a drug counselor. Have a normal life.

But she just can't seem to stop smoking meth. Every morning, almost every lunch hour.

It's a pattern that could easily destroy her newfound balance, and she knows it. She wants to get into treatment -- but where?

She shows the scrapbook that she put together in Alaska. What she wrote then, in that period of new possibility, was simple, but hopeful.

I am now friendless, jobless, carless. The only thing I have now is my life and my freedom from something that controlled everything I thought, I did, and said. . . . TWEAK.

I may be carless, jobless, moneyless, and just have nothing at all, but I control my life and myself.

That was true, for a moment.

But then Jamie took that plane home to Phoenix. And then she picked up the meth pipe.

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske