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Helena Independent Record - "McGrath: Meth ‘A Societal Problem'"

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Helena Independent Record - "McGrath: Meth ‘A Societal Problem'"

Methamphetamine has found a foothold in Montana and law enforcement agencies don't hold all the answers to battling the addiction and its repercussions.

Whole communities have to get together to fight the problem, Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath said Tuesday.

‘‘We need society's help. It's a societal problem and law enforcement can't do it alone,'' added Sheriff John Walsh. ‘‘This addiction can happen to any one of our families. We fight it every day and every night and every hour,'' he said.

‘‘There is no such thing as a war on drugs. Eventually wars get over. This will take a long-term effort, and has to be fought day in and day out. Every time you think you have it stopped, it's not.''

Walsh spoke at a ‘‘Meth Free MT'' breakfast Tuesday in Butte attended by about 50 community leaders and business people. Fisher Broadcasting launched the effort to kickoff a statewide methamphetamine awareness program. Its major sponsors are Town Pump Inc. and Stillwater Mining. Numerous Butte businesses signed up as local backers.

McGrath, the keynote speaker, said, ‘‘Meth isn't just another in the procession of illegal drugs enjoying a wave of popularity. In my experience, meth is different — there has never been anything like it before in Montana.''

Dependence on the highly addictive drug ruins lives and families, and costs society in terms of crime, lost work hours, environmental impacts, and expense for attempts at rehabilitation, he said.

‘‘It is a nightmare in terms of what it does to the health of people who use it,'' McGrath said. ‘‘It is not unusual for health professionals to see 23-year-olds with no teeth, skin lesions and chemical burns caused by meth.

"It creates environmental problems because of the toxic waste the cooking process generates. For every pound of meth produced, the process generates five to eight pounds of highly toxic waste."

An addiction to meth led to a downward spiral for Carren Clem of Kalispell, who was prepared to commit suicide by overdosing on the drug and had her parents resigned to planning her funeral.

"It makes you believe that you are everything you thought you could be, and later wish you weren't," she said.

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