In Columbia County, there have been three meth lab busts this year, and there will be more. A dangerous drug is readily available in Columbia County. Helping meth addicts is a challenge, but drug counselor Kristy Dent is up for the job.
“There is such a fear of getting clean. They know addiction, they know drugs, even if it’s misery. They don’t know what being clean holds for them,” Dent said.
She counsels groups of meth addicts four nights a week for three hours at a time at Bradford Health Services. If an addict really needs help, she’ll meet them privately and may refer the patient to a detox center.
“It basically takes a normal, functional human being and makes them morally, spiritually…it degrades everything and they turn into a different person and they do things they never thought they’d do,” Dent said.
She knows about addiction. Alcohol problems run in Kristy’s family. Most abusers have other issues, like depression or anxiety.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, drug abuse costs taxpayers about $250 million each day. And of the users who do go to rehab, only about one in ten stays clean for good.
Columbia County Sergeant Tripp Penn says he catches meth dealers and buyers through anonymous tips, informants and search warrants.
“At least two investigations that should have active meth labs in Columbia County,” Penn said.
But punishing the addicts doesn’t necessarily change them. Kristy says getting into a support group and tough love are a winning combination.
“Giving them money, getting them out of jail, helping them out, it is actually killing them slowly,” Dent said.
Kristy knows recovery is a long, difficult road, but she wants to be there with each addict every step of the way.
Kristy says methamphetamine is growing in popularity, especially among younger people. A majority of the addicts she treats are meth users in their teens.
Sgt. Penn says he has made 100 arrests in the last nine months. On average, Columbia County has between 3-6 labs a year. And because meth is so easy to make, a new law now says that you have to buy some of your cold medicines like Sudafed behind the counter at your local pharmacy. Pseudoephedrine is one of the ingredients used to make meth.