Column: Gateway drugs can lead to much worse

The Tribune

A recent story focused attention to the increasing role that women are playing in the manufacture and distribution of illegal methamphetamine products.

Although specific numbers were unavailable, local police noted that arrests for making and dealing the drug have often involved couples working together, some in the presence of young children. It’s common for stories in The Tribune to report that children had to be removed from homes during investigations of meth labs in their homes.

Throughout Indiana in particular, the use of methamphetamines has become an epidemic even more troubling than other abuses of illegal drugs because of the rapid, downward spirals into which its victims fall.

Up to this point, meth abuse has been primarily an adult affair, but it has obviously become the drug of choice for many young adults of the 21st century.

For more than a decade, federal, state and local officials throughout the country have been designing programs specifically tailored to fighting meth abuse on a variety of fronts.

Laws have been passed restricting the amounts of over-the-counter medications that can be purchased. Special police units have been created and devoted solely to meth investigations. Extra patrols have been focused on areas where anhydrous tanks are stored, such as in the Cortland area of Hamilton Township.

To date, incidents involving use of meth by school-age students have been rare in this community.

One factor, according to local police, could be the preference among youths for so-called gateway drugs — prescription drugs, marijuana and alcohol — that might be easier for teens and younger to obtain.

Sadly, for some, the gateway description is extremely accurate. Once beyond the illusory escape those drugs produce, some young people are willing to try something quicker and more challenging. That is when the chain is started.

Although communities like Jackson County must continue a strong focus on battling the meth epidemic, that focus should not be limited to the point that it be an end game.

Indeed, many young people are introduced to meth after graduating from gateway drugs.

Hard as it is to believe, some parents look upon these preliminary drugs as part of a rite of passage. Too often adults taking prescription medication fail to safeguard them from their own children. And there are still some adults who think nothing of providing their underage children with alcohol or at least ignore its use by them.

It is a sad reality that after so much time and resources dedicated to education campaigns, so many adults are clueless about drug abuse.

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