Fighting Meth

What will it take to get kids to stop killing themselves with methamphetamines?

Meth kills city kids. It kills kids in the country. It kills white kids and black kids, Native American kids, Hispanic kids.

And it doesn’t just kill kids. It kills a lot of adults.

The case against using these drugs is pretty simple. You do a “Before” and an “After” picture.

The “Before” picture will have a person smiling with teeth. The “After” picture will have the same person frowning without any teeth.

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) put it well when he said: “It doesn’t matter where we go in the state, methamphetamine is there. The whole issue is eating us alive.”

Meth used to be a coastal problem. But now it is a heartland problem. California used to lead the country in methamphetamine lab seizures. But Missouri now has the national title. Some distinction.

Meth is destroying rural America. Meth is more dangerous to rural America than Osama bin Laden.

The number of 12- to 17-year-olds who have abused prescription drugs has increased from 735,000 in 1992 to 2.3 million in 2003, an increase of 212 percent. Kids as young as 12 and 13 years old are showing up at treatment centers.

Local police departments are overwhelmed by the crime wave caused by meth.

One of the reasons so many Americans are so concerned about illegal immigration is because of the influx of meth from Mexico. While meth can easily be made at home, it is also cheaply produced and imported into rural America through Mexican drug gangs. That has led to deep antagonism to immigrants of all stripes.

Enforcement of the drug laws must be part of the solution. Education should be another part of the solution.

But there is a spiritual side to this equation, a side that Republicans need to start talking about.

When people are bored and have lost all sense of hope, they turn to drugs. When they turn to meth, they might as well put a gun to their heads and pull the trigger. They have given up all hope.

We need a candidate who gives these kids hope.

But they need more than hope. They need something productive to do.

Keeping kids busy so that they won’t turn to drugs must be a strategy in fighting this scourge of drugs.

Fighting meth will take more than just a focus on enforcement. It will take more than treatment. It will take more than education. It will take both inspirational political leadership and a program that gives kids something better to do than kill themselves with drugs.