Small Town Meth Invasion
December 10, 2016
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Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive and powerful drug that is invading the youth of Texas in not just big cities, but in small towns as well.
Decades ago, parents didn’t even have to worry about where their kids were until it was dark outside. Now, parents worry whether or not their teenagers are involved with what has been considered the most dangerous drug on earth.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Methamphetamine increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine to very high levels in the brain. Dopamine makes a person feel the same as when they are rewarded something that they have always wanted.
Meth can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved in a liquid solution and injected into the bloodstream.
It is the source of motivation, and the raw experience of genuine pleasure. Meth’s ability to release dopamine rapidly in reward regions of the brain produces the euphoric “rush” or “flash” that many users experience. Repeated methamphetamine use can easily lead to an unstable addiction.
Texas has seen a startling number of meth use in the past year. Especially in teens and young adults.
18 people were arrested in Littlefield, Texas back in April for being involved in an underground meth drug ring; the youngest criminal being only 23 years old.
Three people were arrested for the possession of 50 pounds worth of liquid methamphetamine that was found north of Dallas just two months ago; the youngest offender being only 21 years old.
Finally, Tyelur Watkins, 18, sought treatment for meth and heroin addiction last year at the Phoenix House in Austin, Texas. Watkins was introduced to meth through a friend when he was just 16 years old.
These instances are not just common to larger cities like Dallas and Austin. Small towns across east Texas are becoming more dangerous and influenced by hard drugs pouring in from larger cities.
In Texas, there are certain counties of the state that are listed in groups and classified as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA’s). In the North Texas HIDTA, Henderson County (east Texas) is categorized as a threatening area of drug trafficking.
In Canton, Texas, a small town about 60 miles east of Dallas, there is a facility specifically made for dealing with these situations in the local area.
Sundown Ranch, Inc. is a rehabilitation facility for adolescents and young adults struggling with chemical dependencies.
Andy Arnold, a counselor at Sundown Ranch, has helped teenagers for the past four years through individual counseling sessions on chemical misuse, emotional behavior, and family therapy.
“I believe addiction starts out innocently enough in the name of fun but for those unfortunate ones, it takes over their lives and literally comes to a point where they no longer have control,” Arnold says. “So ultimately, I have a huge amount of understanding and empathy [towards teenage drug users].”
Mr. Arnold says that he has seen a marked increase in the number of kids using harder drugs and that part of the issue is the popularity association of drugs in high school, and that drugs aren’t necessarily the problem, but the misuse and dependency that people have towards them.
“Today, the quarterback and the cheerleaders are using drugs and it’s achieved a status of if you want to be popular, then you have to use drugs. I think the peer pressure to ‘fit in’ is higher than ever! The bigger issue that I see is that that kids today are not taught how to deal with or cope with their emotions. Who hasn’t gotten drunk, or smoked some bud, or popped some Xanax when they got stressed out or when going through a traumatic event? The problem with this is that so many become dependent on these chemicals for any and all emotions. The biggest part that drives addicts to harder drugs is a simple bit of biology called ‘tolerance.’”
Dear Mr. Power,
I was a client of Sundown Ranch last year, and it was the best two months of my life…Life continues to get better and better…This year I am graduating a whole year early from high school…After leaving Sundown I decided to become a LCDC (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) so that I could give back what I had been given…I am truly grateful for Sundown Ranch….There was not one staff member that didn’t judge, but gave unconditional support…I believe that Sundown Ranch saved my life…I believe that I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for your help…I really give thanks to you!
Sundown Ranch Inc.,
We wanted to express our gratitude to you all for the wonderful care that Dustin received…It was a very eye opening experience for us as a family to realize the many issues that Dustin was facing…Dustin came away from the ”Ranch” a different person…We feel that the ”Ranch” was the right place for Dustin to begin and continue in his recovery…If you ever need a personal testimony of what the ”Ranch” can do for your child and your family, we would love to be a reference…We are so thankful to the entire staff of everything…We are a healthier and a stronger family because of your program.
About 40 miles south of Canton, you reach an even smaller town by the name of Poynor, Texas; population 314 and struggling with a drug epidemic.
Students and faculty of LaPoynor ISD have growing concerns with a methamphetamine outbreak in teenagers across the area.
Dedra Moltz, a high school English teacher of LaPoynor, says that this situation has affected the students and classroom at LaPoynor.
“The students are talking more openly about the problem. I hear conversations about how using drugs like meth is just stupid,” Moltz says. “The staff has become more vigilant in watching for signs of drug use within the student population.”
The noticeable signs of methamphetamine use include dilated pupils, heavy sweating, appetite loss, sleeplessness, paranoia, and unpredictable behavior.
Mrs. Moltz also confirmed that LaPoynor is now having drug dogs on campus more frequently, and at random times. The staff was also involved with the local sheriff’s office earlier in the year to administer a drug awareness program for the student body.
Zach Solis, a senior at LaPoynor, says that he knows some students that are using meth.
“Yes, I’ve heard of five kids that have done meth and are between 16 and 18 years old,” Solis says.
Zach is also involved in extracurricular activities, such as basketball, where he says that random drug testing will begin soon.
“They haven’t started drug testing yet, but there is talk of it going to happen. They are not only going to drug test parking pass kids, they will also drug test athletes by random selection.”
Hopefully, drug testing students for parking privileges and extracurricular activities will slow, if not stop the invasion of drugs into this small town high school.