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Study: Youth more cautious, aware of meth effects

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 26th, 2011

The graphic ads have appeared statewide, through television, print, the Internet and radio. The Wyoming Meth Project doesn’t sugarcoat its message: methamphetamines shouldn’t be tried even once.

And it seems young people in Wyoming are getting the message, according to a recent survey from the Wyoming Meth Project. According to the survey, conducted annually since 2008, 62 percent of teens said there is significant risk in trying meth once or twice, which increased 9 percent from the 2008 benchmark. Eighty-three percent surveyed said there is great risk in regular meth use.

As access and availability goes, 23 percent of teens said meth would be somewhat or very easy to acquire, down 12 percent from 2008. Eleven percent said they have been offered meth, which is down 5 percent from the benchmark.

The survey targets teens because they are the most vulnerable group for meth abuse, according to Meth Project data. Wyoming ranks first in the U.S. for meth use by those 12 and older, and second in meth use in teens 12-17 years old.

The survey was conducted through 17 randomly selected junior and senior high schools statewide, accounting for 1,226 respondents.

Wyoming Meth Project Executive Director Jean Davies said warnings against meth are spreading through the ad campaign and presentations at schools statewide.

“Kids have told me, ‘I know people who use meth, and they don’t look like that,’” Davies said. “I tell them it doesn’t happen right away, but (a meth user’s) teeth rot out and they feel like bugs are crawling all over their skin.”

Other physical and mental symptoms include paranoia, extreme weight loss, depression and blood vessel and brain damage.

Davies added she places emphasis on the ingredients commonly used to make meth; saying students should know meth users may ingest such components as drain cleaner, battery acid and lye.

Locally, Torrington Police Chief Billy Janes said he has always found meth an easy drug to explain through the DARE drug education program. He emulates the Meth Project’s methods by showing students a before and after meth use photo and presenting the facts.

“There’s such a drastic effect physically and mentally, I’ve found kids say they don’t want to look like that or act like that, and they understand,” Janes said. “They know the consequences and can tell you the proper thing to do.”

Though parent/child discussions dropped two percent from 52 to 50 percent in 2008 and 2011 respectively, the survey indicates Meth Project ads have spurred 53 percent of teens to tell someone not to use meth.

Looking ahead, Davies said the Meth Project is planning a social media campaign to further spread the word, and the project isn’t about to lose steam.

“We have no laurels to rest on,” Davies said. “We need to keep the message out there.”

To view the entire survey and more information about meth and its effects, visit www.wyomingmethproject.org.

Wyoming Meth Project Survey - 1,226 teens surveyed

62 percent say there is great risk in trying meth once or twice

83 percent see great risk in regular meth use

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