Students Learn Horrors Of Meth Addiction

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"Meth is death" is the message members of the Gila County Meth Coalition brought fifth-grade students at Frontier Elementary School Thursday morning.

The coalition split into teams and spent about five minutes in every classroom, speaking and handing out bracelets that carried the slogan: "Meth is death."

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Dean Pederson of Southwest Behavioral Health and a member of the Gila County Meth Coalition, speaks to students at Frontier Elementary School.

Dean Pederson from Southwest Behavioral Health told the students they would soon need to make some difficult choices in their lives, and hoped those decisions were wise ones.

He said the goal is to encourage children to never try methamphetamines even once, adding if it doesn't kill the person, he or she could become addicted to the drug.

He said, once addicted, there is nothing that can be said to encourage the user to stop. He said, users will see their teeth fall out and their health will deteriorate, but even that will not be enough to make the addict stop using the drug.

"Whether you know it or not, some of you will have to make choices," Pederson said. "We are going to give you some good information, so you will make good decisions."

Julie Craig, head of the Gila County Meth Task Force, said simply that the drug will kill users.

She said the drug results in people becoming paranoid. Users cannot stand still, while others imagine bugs crawling all over them.

"Once they start on that drug, that is all they care about," Pederson said. "One time, and you are hooked. It will kill you. Think about it."

Craig said, once a person uses this drug, it is no longer a choice whether to continue using it, because the addiction becomes so strong.

"The only way to get help is to get them in jail (where treatment can begin)," she said. "It's not bad to call police." She said addicts, when getting the help they need, will often thank the person who called the police.

Pederson told students if they know someone who is using meth to tell someone, so the user can receive some help. He said they should not intervene personally, as many addicts are irrational and can turn violent.

"We know nothing good comes out of meth," he said.

In the afternoon, members of the coalition visited Rim Country Middle School to show students the effects and dangers of methamphetamines.

Included in the presentation were "before" and "after" pictures of meth users, many of which shocked the teenagers.

County Attorney Daisy Flores, who was present at all of the schools the coalition visited on Thursday, said the county wanted to get the message out to students that meth kills, in hopes of preventing some people turning to the drug.

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