Editor's note: The author of this essay asked that she be allowed to share her experience while remaining anonymous. She does not want to endanger herself or her family. She is a business owner in Payson, who has lived here for 10 years.
The methamphetamine epidemic in Payson is growing at rapid speeds. Men and women, young and old are introduced to this drug and participating in this method of madness more and more as days go by.
It is so thick now, one can venture to walk outside their front door and look to the neighbors on each side of them and wonder who the victims are now and who will be in the future.
Mothers and fathers are willing to abandon their children.
This drug makes thieves out of those who would never steal.
It makes liars out of those who never needed to lie.
It makes felons out of those who grew up with respect for themselves and the law.
It drives people to commit suicide and murder.
While those of us hurt by the devastation of this self-inflicted disease feel great sorrow and worry for the addicts and users, we are undoubtedly angry and concerned more than anything for the innocent children who suffer the consequences. There is nothing in the world more heartbreaking than to look in the eyes of a little girl or a little boy and to try and explain why their mother or father has abandoned them in exchange for meth.
With today's treatment centers and free support groups, there is no excuse. Thank goodness for the grandparents, family members, friends and foster homes that have lovingly taken these children and tried to give them stability through their loss. For so many of us out there who have family and friends using, it has been a never-ending nightmare. We find ourselves wanting to shake them by the shoulders and awaken them to the reality of what they are doing. Tears fall as so many of us have heard the same excuses and statements: "I don't need rehab," "I don't have a problem" and the biggest of them all, "You have no idea what I am going through."
In the old days, if a man or a woman, mother, father, brother, sister or person had harmed or endangered a child they would have been hung or punished severely. Yet the schools today are filled with children who suffer abandonment and endangerment. But teachers cannot tell.
Sorrow has spread throughout this nation as our soldiers are wounded and dying overseas in Iraq. Men and women who give and risk their lives for our freedom have fallen in devastating numbers. They are suffering and dying for our future and the future of our upcoming generations.
While this tragic war continues to destroy families and loved ones, we as Americans stand and honor those honorable and brave solders who continually sacrifice for us. But while freedom continues to ring proudly in America, it is our responsibility to come together as neighbors and stand united to fight the war that is happening on our own doorstep.
The meth epidemic has spread to hundreds of thousands of victims and continues to grow in numbers that none of us can effectively calculate. It is time for each of us to take a stand and notice what is really going on around us. For the sake of the innocent children, we need to unite.
For the ashamed and resentful addicts and users who are reading this article, we continue to pray you will find the strength to seek the help you need as there are more people standing behind you than you know.
For those unresentful, unashamed addicts, pushers and dealers who continue to cause destruction to our young children and teens, watch out.
You have reason to be paranoid.
Your neighbors are watching.