We’ve all heard about methamphetamine. More casually known as meth, it first became widespread in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Its use became terrifyingly epidemic — but unlike crack and many other “street drugs,” meth addiction has been tearing up rural areas more than cities (here’s a 2004 NPR article talking about why that is, and a link to Nick Reding’s book Methland, which looks at the drug’s impact on a rural Iowa community.)
Although our region is certainly not drug free (police arrested 12 people on federal drug trafficking charges in Massena back in September, for example), meth has, thankfully, not had the kind of devastating presence in the North Country Adirondack region that it’s had in some others. But an article in today’s Glens Falls Post-Star suggests that the arrest of a 28-year-old man for cooking meth in the Washington County village of Hudson Falls may be indicative of the start of a larger trend, one for which police say they’ve been preparing for several years.
The paper reports that meth production has “spiked” in the past year or so, and Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy told the paper that a meth epidemic is the department’s “biggest fear.” “The biggest issue is it’s very volatile and dangerous. We’ve been told it’s just a matter of time.” A quick search reveals a number of meth arrests in the North Country over the last few months, including in Watertown, Saranac, Mooers, and other towns and villages in the North Country.
It’s always scary when a dangerous new drug comes onto the scene and starts tearing up families and communities. I grew up in the 1980s, when crack cocaine was the terrifying new drug, and the damage attributed to both the drug itself and the trade in it, particularly in poor urban areas, was staggering. More recently, some of the most extreme problems crack was thought to cause have been questioned — “crack babies” aren’t the lost generation they’d been thought to be, for example, and much of the damage done to communities may have stemmed from sentencing laws that punished crack possession and sales much more harshly than for other drugs (2010’s Fair Sentencing Act was an effort to reduce that disparity). No one’s saying crack’s a good thing, though, and for a kid like me it was absolutely terrifying.
So what’s your thought? Is our region bound to become “methland” if something’s not done? Is meth already in your area, and how are you seeing its impacts? And if the North Country’s going to be spared, what is it about our area that makes it less friendly to meth?