The Local Costs of Meth in Montgomery County

CRIME-SCENEWhen people become addicted to drugs, though they are the primary victims they are not the only ones affected. Addiction influences whole communities, especially in rural areas where such communities are small and funds are tight. Here in Montgomery county, in Southwest Virginia, we are not an exception.

According to a recent news report, the sheriff’s office spent over 36,000 taxpayer dollars last year on meth lab clean-ups. This is over five times the amount they spent on the issue in 2012.

The production of meth is very dangerous, so it is no surprise labs are a priority concern with local law enforcement. Currently Montgomery county officials are almost wholly focused on cleaning up meth labs within the county.

The report noted that Montgomery county should be receiving financial help from the DEA, though the police say the main trouble is a lack of manpower to keep up with meth labs as a rising problem. With help from the DEA, however, it is possible our tax dollars could be spent on treatment for these individuals.

In a recent post, On Making Meth and Money, we discussed the difficult choices addicts face to obtain the substance(s) they need. Thanks to modern research on the brain, we now know that addiction is a disease of the reward centers of the brain. An addictive substance trains and conditions these centers that the substance is needed for survival, which is why addicts are beset with withdrawal symptoms soon after they stop taking the drug.

Have you ever been hungry? I mean really, really hungry? Or dying of thirst? It is difficult for anyone who is not an addict to know exactly how hard it is to quit. Addicts need treatment, often medication assisted treatment, in order to kick their habit in any lasting way.

Taxpayers want to see their dollars going towards a solution, not a temporary fix. One meth lab cleanup will only stall another.

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About Laurel Sindewald

Laurel is an alumna of Warren Wilson College with a BS in Conservation Biology and a BA in Philosophy. She is a writer for Rural System, Inc.

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