Mercy Health Love County - News

Recovery Experts Prep Community For Methamphetamine TV Program

Posted on Friday, December 26th, 2008

Love County EMS medics Teresa Tow and Justin Cheek  ready the hospital’s portable decontamination shower for an educational panel/demonstration on methamphetamine.
The subject happened to be methamphetamine but the underlying message from panelists at Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic and EMS recently was the same: addiction to any drug or alcohol is a terrible thing.
The panel was preparing local leaders for what the public will see when all Oklahoma television stations air a simultaneous broadcast of “Crystal Darkness” at 6:30 p.m. on January 13.
The 30-minute documentary will feature personal testimonials illustrating the devastating effects of methamphetamine on families and communities across the state. Both local stations, KXII and KTEN, will be airing the program.
Thirty people listened to the educational panel and toured the hospital’s decontamination unit. They also mapped out watch parties and set up follow-up showings for area schools in the days following the documentary’s original airing on January 13.
Arrangements have been made for the 2-1-1 toll-free helpline to take calls from the public seeking more information about prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse in the local area.
In the dozen other states and cities where “roadblock” showings of “Crystal Darkness” have occurred, a groundswell of public interest in prevention, treatment, and interdiction has followed, according to the website.
Oklahoma First Lady Kim Henry is a co-leader of the statewide event. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is a major sponsor.
The local planning group was set up by the Love County Task Force on Child Abuse/Domestic Violence/Substance Abuse. Eyvonna Lemons of Big 5 Community Services is chair of the planning group.
On the panel, three people in recovery from addiction to alcohol, methamphetmaine or other drugs joined Chief Linda Johnson of the Marietta Police Department and John Gilliam, training captain for Love County EMS.
The three former users recommended Alcoholics Anonymous or related “12-step” programs as part of recovery. Meetings are free. They occur daily in Ardmore and Tuesday and Saturday nights in Marietta at the nutrition center on N. Hwy 77, as listed in the newspaper. Anonymity among members is rigidly observed.
Here are other highlights of the panelists’ remarks:
E, a woman eight years in recovery from meth and now a recovery counselor: “Mexico is the source for most methamphetamine, which is also known as ice, crystal, crank, and speed.
“Meth is a stimulant. You are up, awake for days. You enjoy it and enjoy being hyped up. But coming down you’re sick at your stomach and tired. You do more meth for energy to get through the day. Kids get caught in that cycle. You could be awake three days at a time. People with meth can’t do anything but sit and doodle.
“In small towns, you can tell by looking who has a problem with meth – dark circles under their eyes, black teeth, underweight, skin breakouts. Adolescents need more than to be scared straight. The physical effects of meth on the way you look is important.
“Stay away from all drugs and alcohol if addiction runs in your family.”
M, a man in recovery for 13 years: “I started with alcohol at the age of eight. I was shy and ashamed of my poorness. Alcohol brought me out. Thunderbird (wine) was a solution to all my problems. Judicial intervention brought me to treatment.
“I was at the end of a 6-day high on cocaine and heroine when recovery started. I fell to my knees in surrender. A probation officer asked me if I would accept help, treatment as a sick person, not as a criminal. In my first day of AA in a 90-day treatment facility, I unloaded my sorrows from childhood and never felt so comfortable in my life.
“It takes 20 years for the alcohol trip, but only one year for meth or ice. The addiction to meth is that much more intense and accelerated.
“Know your family history. Three things can happen to addicts – you’re locked up, sobered up, or covered up.”
G, a woman in recovery for 33 years, and now a recovery manager. “If you believe in treatment, advocate strongly for more money for treatment facilities.
“Drug court is an alternative to incarceration. The District Attorney and drug court treatment specialists have to agree to offer drug treatment to someone facing drug charges, but who is nonviolent. They go to an 18-month program in the community. The first 12 weeks are a shock as they learn the gravity of their responsibilities. There’s no skating by. They have education, treatment, go to work, agree to be drug tested several times a week. The incentive is to make their commitment work or go to prison. Some go to prison, but there are 40 people on the waiting list for drug court treatment right now.
“My recovery is the most important thing I have, beyond the degrees and credentials I have earned since then. I consider recovery a gift, a gift that a person has to work for.
“Addiction can happen to anyone. Don’t judge. AA works. We need more public and legislative involvement in treatment. We need more and earlier intervention and prevention with young people.”
Chief Johnson said that one-fourth of Marietta arrests are drug-related, including for meth possession, distribution, or manufacture. (When alcohol arrests are added, the total of all substance abuse stops rises to three-fourths of the total arrests, she later estimated).
Meth labs still spring up in Love County, she said, even though a 2004 law making Oklahoma the first state to put amphetamine behind the counter of drug and grocery stores sharply curtailed “mom and pop” labs.
“Meth users can be paranoid and this is dangerous for the public and our officers. We recently encountered a driver who was hallucinating and had no awareness of his whereabouts. He had to be talked down to take his foot off the brake because he believed it would explode.
“Getting rid of cook residue is polluting streams. Homes become contaminated. Sometimes toxicity is so severe, the topsoil has to be removed. Dangerous chemicals are a threat to the community.”
Gilliam told how emergency responders treat people exposed to meth labs. “Most poisons have an antidote. But there’s no antidote for methamphetamine.
“We have a portable decontamination shower that we could take to the scene of a drug bust to wash the meth residue off of skin and out of eyes. We would have to repeat the process at our permanent decontamination unit at the hospital before bringing affected people into the emergency room.”
Emergency workers donned their hazard suits and set up the portable decontamination shower for the group to tour.
Schedule of Crystal Darkness Watch Parties
Tuesday, Jan. 13
First Christian Church, 210 NW 3
Enville Community Church, East Highway 32
TV program starts at 6:30 p.m.