A reader asked us if it was wise to publish our recent story describing how cheap it is to buy the dangerous drug methamphetamine in northeast Indiana.
We think the people who use illegal meth already knew that, long before our article.
It’s our readers who need to know why meth remains a huge problem, in spite of recent laws that successfully squelched one form of the drug.
Law-enforcement officers agree that a law championed by state Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, has ended the plague of people making homemade meth. It discouraged people from buying certain types of cold medication they were using to “cook” their own meth.
Cooking meth exposed scores of innocent children to toxic chemicals, not to mention ruining rental homes that required expensive cleaning. Cookers sometimes burst into flames. Police ran the risk of contamination when they raided meth houses.
Homemade meth may have disappeared from the scene, but meth might be more prevalent than ever.
Now, meth users are buying potent crystal meth that is smuggled across the Mexican border, police report.
We’re being left alone to deal with the problem, because all the attention in the rest of the state and nation is being focused on the scourge of heroin and opioids.
We can be grateful that heroin and opioids remain relatively rare here. They can cause instant death, while meth saps its users’ health over a longer time frame.
Still, we’ve got a meth problem we can’t ignore. Police say many users become addicted after only one use of the drug.
We analyzed the June arrest reports from one local county. They showed 15 arrests for possessing or selling meth, plus six arrests involving both meth and marijuana. Eight people were charged with possessing or selling marijuana alone. Four people were arrested on charges involving other, unspecified drugs.
An average of seven people were arrested on meth charges every 10 days. People convicted on meth charges or awaiting trial are clogging the court system and filling local jails.
Meth abuse contributes to theft and burglary rates that are “going through the roof” as users seek money to buy the drug, one local detective said.
Some local law enforcement officials are calling for harsher sentences to punish people involved with meth.
“The solution is stiffer penalties and incarceration of these offenders,” Noble County Sheriff Max Weber told us.
“You have to make sure the punishment fits the crime, and right now it’s not,” said DeKalb County Sheriff David Cserep II. He is planning to use an undercover officer to attack the meth crisis.
Elsewhere in the state and nation, experts are prescribing treatment and recovery programs — as an alternative to prison — for drug users caught in the opioid-heroin epidemic.
We don’t know if the same remedies work for meth as for opioids/heroin, or whether they need different solutions.
We do know we need answers, because lives lost to meth are as important as lives taken by opioids and heroin.
Northeast Indiana needs to rely on itself in fighting meth, but our leaders also need to be raising their voices until state officials hear the cry from our corner of the state.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board.
We welcome readers’ comments.