YUMA, Ariz. – Crystal, crank, glass all different names for the same dangerous drug, Meth. Used by more than a million people in the United States according to a national survey on Drug Use and Health. The drug is a very present threat in the Desert Southwest, Law enforcement agencies across Arizona report that the level of methamphetamine abuse is rising. We spoke to an undercover sergeant from the Yuma County Sheriff’s office narcotics task force he says it is one of the most lethal drugs in the region, “It’s definitely one of the biggest issues we have here as far as narcotics are concerned”
Narcotics agents say that even when compared to other dangerous drugs meth is the biggest concern and a growing trend, “It’s a very dangerous drug with whats put in it the chemicals that make it, it’s very dangerous”
One factor that has lead to the chronic abuse is how easily accessible it is on the streets, and is cheaper in Yuma because of the proximity to the border. YCSO says generally a gram of meth will cost around $20 but that fluctuates often in our region because of the abundance. The drug cartels makes billions off the sale of crystal its frequently smuggled over the Mexican border into Arizona, with the drugs packaged on people or vehicles. Border Patrol statistics show that 90 percent of meth comes over borders in the Desert Southwest. YCSO warns the smugglers are often very violent, “They usually have either gang or cartel relations and almost everyone we arrest has possession of firearms”
One Yuma resident survived years of meth abuse and addiction now she’s telling us her story hoping to save others lives, she requested we hide her identity and says “If I could tell anybody especially young kids it ruins your life it makes you do bad things hang around with terrible people. I did alot of meth, I did cocaine and marijuana to calm me down all of this with two young children”. The former user says the addiction nearly killed her on many occasions, “When I would sleep I felt like my heart would stop but that didn’t stop me I would still do the drugs…I nearly died I got in a terrible car accident because I was going to get drugs.”
“It’s one of the more addictive drugs that we have out there”, says a narc agent with YCSO.
Dr. Miguel Tosado is a psychiatrist with Yuma Regional Medical Center and deals with many people meth abusers, he says that the addiction is often fatal…he explains that the drug is abused in many different ways, “Some patients have smoked snorted or ingested it but mainly it’s oral abuse”.
For those going through addiction there are steps to recovery, “Mainly based on therapy, using other medications if there is something else going on with the patient for example depression recovery is possible” says Dr. Tosado.
“The best thing that happened to me was going into the hospital, for 9 months after going in for 30 days from the halfway house for 3 nights a week we had counselors it was wonderful.” says a former user.
YCSO has many programs to help those using meth seek treatment but halting the drug trade they say is a non-stop battle. “I did take alot of drugs but methamphetamine was a lot worse than anything I had ever taken” says a former user.