The third Meth Summit will be held Thursday.
Titled “The Hidden Costs of Meth,” the summit will focus on the financial burden that meth places on users, their families and even those who have no direct link with the drug.
Investigator Reagen Clayton of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office said that meth has a number of these hidden costs and that average taxpayers may not truly see how many tax dollars each year are spent as a result of meth use. For example, one of the speakers will tell summit attendees about the way meth can impact real estate.
The first meth summit was conceived because of the public’s interest in learning more about the drug. After that first summit in 2006, the coalition was formed so that the county would have a way to continue learning about meth, as well as other drugs affecting local residents’ lives.
Last year’s summit focused on meth in the home.
Clayton said if one resident in a neighborhood starts a meth lab in his home, real estate prices for the entire neighborhood could be affected. Attendees will also hear from a recovering meth addict and from an officer from the Arlington, Va., Police Department about the problems that area has encountered due to meth.
“We’re trying to broaden the scope, that this isn’t just a Carroll County problem,” Clayton said. “It was certainly affecting the U. S. long before it got to Carroll County.”
Robie York, lead coordinator of this year’s summit, said that the first two summits focused mainly on topics like how to detect meth addicts and how to get them help. This year’s summit will focus more on how meth affects everyone in society, not just users.
“This year we’ve kind of changed it up to focus on the hidden costs of meth, whether that’s law enforcement, social services, health care costs,” York said.
York believes that when residents hear about the ways in which money from their own pockets goes into combatting meth, more interest in the subject might be generated.
“It kind of stimulates them to be a little more proactive about it,” he said.
Clayton said that while the coalition aims to spread awareness about all illegal drugs, meth was selected as the main focus because of the easy access to the materials used to make meth and the devastating toll the drug takes on its users. According to Clayton, 98 percent of meth users become addicted after only one use.
“The addictive quality of meth is commonly referred to as 100 times worse than crack cocaine,” he said.
Coalition Chairwoman Tracy Wilson said that while meth is still very much present in Carroll County, she believes that local efforts to spread awareness of the drug are working. Wilson, a substance abuse counselor at Resolution Counseling in Carrollton, said that national surveys have showed a decline in the number of first-time users.
She also said that she has seen a number of former meth users get clean in recent years, many after either receiving treatment or being incarcerated.
“It doesn’t mean it’s gone away, but we are seeing a decline,” Wilson said.
Wilson, Clayton and other coalition members do presentations at schools, churches and civic group meetings around Carroll County on a regular basis, and Wilson said the message seems to be hitting home with local teens.
“Kids that you talk to are just scared to death of it,” Wilson said. “They’re not touching it.”
The summit, which will be held at Midway Macedonia Baptist Church on the Carrollton-Villa Rica Highway for the third year, will give vendors of services related to meth and other drug use a chance to interact with those in attendance. Clayton, who plans to man the coalition’s booth, said law enforcement groups, rehabilitation services and other groups frequent the summits.
Between 500 and 600 local residents have attended the last two meth summits, and Clayton is hoping for a similar turnout this year. Clayton said educators, counselors, law enforcement officers, parents and ordinary concerned residents are often seen at the summit.
“From what I can tell, we’ve got a good mix of concerned citizens,” Clayton said.
Registration will begin at 8 a.m. on Oct. 16, but pre-registration is encouraged. Anyone can pre-register by calling Resolution Counseling at 770-832-9140 or by visiting www.carrollmeth.org. Registration is free.