We repeat homilies to our children in the hope that our moral codes will sink in.
"Don't do drugs."
Maybe they roll their eyes and retort, "I'm not. I heard you the first time."
They go to school and hear the same message from public safety officers and teachers.
It is hard to miss the anti-meth billboard on the drive to the Valley.
We hope the shock tactics of that ad, and the others originally created by the Montana Meth Project (www.montanameth.org) are making a lasting impression on those who see them.
During the past several years a number of Roundup reporters have sat in on meth awareness seminars and thought, ‘no sane person would drink battery acid or drain cleaner, so why would they take meth?'
We learned that methamphetamine fires on 13 pleasure centers in the brain with just one use.
Addiction often follows that single use.
Repeated meth use causes the brain to stop producing dopamine. Then users are unable to feel any kind of pleasure.
We learned that, like most addicts, meth users come in all ages, even senior citizens.
We learned that a house used as a meth lab requires hazardous materials teams to remove its contents, any people inside, to dismantle the house, to tear out the foundation and to dig up several feet of dirt from under the house.
The house and soil must be stored as toxic waste.
"We work the black seam together," the musician Sting once wrote in a song about nuclear waste.
It applies to this drug, too.
Meth users are likely to commit other crimes such as burglary and identity theft to get money to buy more meth.
There are medical costs.
Another thing that makes meth scary is that the children -- the children for whom we have high hopes, the children who think they can become anything as well as the ones who haven't yet learned that, might unknowingly take meth.
Drug dealers are making a product that looks like candy. Talk about ruining a confection meant to give pleasure when it melts on the tongue.
We do not advocate living in fear.
We advocate learning the facts about meth and knowing where to find help.
The Gila County Meth Coalition published a poem by Judy West, a young girl jailed on drug charges. She wrote the poem, "I Am Meth," while she was incarcerated. Here are two lines:
"I can bring you more misery than words can tell,
Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell."
Not long after West was released from jail, she was found dead, with the needle still in her arm.
Pay attention to your children. Know their friends. Be a part of their lives. Ask questions.
Keep telling your children, when it comes to drugs and meth:
"Not even once."
For more information online, visit the Arizona Meth Project Web site www.arizonamethproject.org or www.freevibe.com -- a source of information for teens on the Web.
By phone, there are crisis hotlines available 24 hours a day: Nursewise (866) 495-6735 and the Maricopa Crisis Line (800) 631-1314.