Rampant methamphetamine use prompted the establishment of MATForce five years ago.
Since that time, the campaign slowed meth use only for new, trendy ways to pop up for children and adults to get high.
MATForce, Yavapai County’s substance abuse coalition, met Friday, Oct. 21, for its annual community meeting to reflect on the year’s successes and talk about the changing atmosphere of drug abuse and addiction.
Over the past five years, drugs of choice have shifted and users, particularly teenagers, aren’t looking for drugs cooked in shady meth labs.
Instead, they’re turning to their parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinets to get high. Prescription-grade painkillers are the main target.
A few weeks ago we asked in our People on the Street questions in Sedona and the Verde Valley which drug individuals remember being the biggest problem when they were in high school.
Depending on the generation, we received answers running the gamut of illegal drugs from marijuana and alcohol to LSD, heroine and cocaine.
Regardless of age, each person remembered one particular drug being a problem when he or she was young.
For me, growing up in a small town far removed from any cities, marijuana and alcohol seemed to be the most popular with LSD and psychedelic mushrooms making an appearance occasionally. Meth use began creeping in just after I graduated from high school.
Today’s teenagers would most likely name prescription drugs.
The misconception prescription drugs are safer because they are prescribed by a doctor leads many teens to try them. The problems occur when the drugs are combined with other substances — including alcohol, or an individual overdoses or experiences an allergic reaction to the medication.
While MATForce continues its fight to save young lives, this battle isn’t as cut and dry. To squash the problem, police officers aren’t looking for illegal drug production operations and often a “dealer” in the true meaning of the word doesn’t exist.
The best approach to this particular problem is educating not only the teens but their parents as well.
Dump the Drugs events encourage adults to get rid of unused medications rather than letting them sit around the house, and campaigns remind all of us to keep medications in a safe place and be aware of what we have in case something goes missing.
This fight will be difficult, just like those in the past, and the entire community must join together. Luckily, we have the guidance and support of MATForce.