Crystal Darkness to shed light on meth addiction
Crank, crystal, ice, chalk, quartz-all street names for methamphetamine (meth), an addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system leaving its user with, among other things, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances and violent behavior. Chronic meth abuse significantly changes how the brain functions, leading to reduced motor performance and impaired verbal learning. And all it takes to become addicted is one use.
Because of the drug’s impact on the Sooner state, Oklahomans are taking aim at meth addiction through a two-phase initiative that aims to attack the scourge of meth by preventing new users from taking up the habit.
The first phase is a 30-minute documentary, Crystal Darkness, that airs at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 (6 p.m. on Telemundo and Univision) on nearly every network station in Oklahoma. The program features people who are recovering from meth addiction, wives of law enforcement officers killed by someone on meth, public officials and family members of those on meth.
“While these stories cross all aspects of life-and some will be hard to watch-we hope the documentary also lets Oklahomans know there is hope,” said Chad Previch, promotional spokesperson for Crystal Darkness. “People do recover and become productive members of society.”
The program is targeted for youth and their parents, but the message extends with conviction to an entire community. The story is told through the powerful testimonies of young people who have gone through the dark and lonely depths of meth addiction. With heart wrenching and raw honesty, they speak to their generation with an unforgettable message of warning.
“We are all impacted by meth addiction, spending millions of dollars on treatment, incarceration, clean-up of meth homes, fostering of kids who are removed from these homes,” said Mark Woodward, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. “All Oklahomans have been impacted by it, and we can make a difference.”
Woodward said the destructive path is broader with meth than with other forms of drugs.
“Marijuana is still number one in overall use of illegal drugs,” he pointed out. “Number two is probably crack cocaine and meth is number three. But meth is more difficult to get off of. The paranoia you see with meth leads to a lot of violence you don’t often get with marijuana, heroin or crack.”
Woodward noted three state troopers, an OBN agent and an Oklahoma City police officer were among those killed in the last eight years by people high on meth.
“Our agent was killed when he was run over by a driver high on meth,” Woodward explained. “This goes back to how every Oklahoman is affected by it because it could be the person in the vehicle next to you.”
Typical users of meth are between 18-38, Woodward said.
“The main users tend to be young adults, which is the prime age to have young children inside the home,” Woodward noted. “Five out of six kids going into the foster care system are coming from meth homes where one or more parents are meth addicts.”
Woodward added that there are an estimated 200,000 Oklahoma properties that were former meth labs.
“People are living in these homes, and may or may not realize it,” he commented. “It can have immediate health affects such as breathing problems, itchy skin or burning eyes, and can lead to long-term affects causing liver damage, cancer and other long-term health issues.”
Woodward said a state law passed four years ago that regulates the sale of the main ingredient in cooking meth, has led to a 95 percent drop in meth labs. But meth addicts have learned to cook for themselves and their friends.
“Meth is still prevalent in Oklahoma because it’s pouring across the Mexican border,” he revealed. “About 95 percent of the meth used in Oklahoma is smuggled in from Mexico.”
“Oklahoma has made tremendous strides in fighting the epidemic of methamphetamine, but far too m any families across our state still struggle with this powerful and deadly drug,” said Oklahoma’s First Lady Kim Henry, who along with former Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane, is cochairing the Crystal Darkness Campaign.
“Crystal Darkness will prevent families from hitting rock bottom and also lift those up who have already reached that point,” said Lane. “In many cases, it’s simply a matter of reaching out to those in need and providing them with the tools to recover.”
Although state agencies, counseling experts and law enforcement are contributing to Crystal Darkness, Henry and Lane said the campaign will not be successful without help from the public. They are calling on schools, places of worship, civic clubs, cities and towns to host watch parties during the documentary’s airing to mobilize communities. Oklahomans can go to www.crystaldarknessoklahoma.org to schedule their own watch parties.
Call centers will be set up across the state during the documentary’s airing on Jan. 13 for Oklahomans who think they or a loved one need help. Oklahomans will call 211 the night of the documentary and the days following to receive aid in their fight against meth. They can also call the number to report meth activity in their community.
After the documentary’s airing, Phase Two of Crystal Darkness will begin.
Phase Two is a comprehensive approach that involves statewide drug awareness education and training for schools, parents and community groups as well as law enforcement entities.
“Phase Two is going to involve going back into communities for prevention and education, hosting town hall meetings, bringing in churches, schools, police, city councils, and sitting down and deciding what the community is going to do about the problem,” said Woodward. “The documentary is going to talk about the problem; Phase Two is the action.”