November 17, 2005
CONTACT: Alexa Marrero or Kevin Smith
Telephone: (202) 225-4527

Prevention & Education Can Help Combat Methamphetamine Production & Use, Witnesses Tell Subcommittee 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Witnesses before the U.S. House Education Reform Subcommittee today testified on strategies to address the harmful effects of the drug methamphetamine through prevention and education.  The subcommittee’s hearing focused on national and local drug prevention strategies aimed at addressing the impact of methamphetamine on local communities, schools, families, and child protection services.


“Meth production and abuse affect more than just the adults directly involved with the drug.  Many children are being neglected by their addicted parents.  The number of foster care children has been rising rapidly in states that have been hit by the meth problem.  Children who are the victims of the methamphetamine epidemic are presenting many unique challenges to schools, social service workers, foster parents, counselors, and adoption workers,” said Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), chairman of the Education Reform Subcommittee.


“The federal government has recognized the importance that drug prevention and education efforts play in our communities.  Prevention is also the most cost-effective approach to the drug problem, sparing society the burden of treatment, rehabilitation, lost productivity, and other social pathologies,” continued Castle.


“Action must be taken to prevent the further spread of methamphetamines, particularly given the terrible effects of this drug on not only the user but all persons involved—families, children, and our communities.  Mothers and fathers are losing their jobs and children of meth addicts are left unfed, living in the worst of conditions because their parents are too high to provide the least of care.  Sadly, such scenarios are repeated in homes across the country,” said Rep. Tom Osborne (R-NE), vice chairman of the subcommittee.  “Prevention is a cost-effective way to reduce drug use.  By focusing on prevention and education at today’s hearing, I am hopeful we can implement drug education and prevention models from across the country that have proven effective in reducing meth use.”


“Prevention – ‘stopping use before it starts,’ in the words of President Bush’s National Drug Strategy Report – is a vital component of any effective drug control strategy, and that is particularly the case for meth.  In many respects, it is the most important component, since it is the demand for drugs that attracts the supply,” said Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), who testified on his efforts to combat methamphetamine in his congressional district and across the nation.


“Moreover, as with anything else, an ounce of effective prevention really is worth a pound of cure.  Once a person is addicted, treatment is very difficult – especially for meth,” continued Souder.  “Prevention must therefore be central to our anti-meth strategy.  Even as the House and Senate consider legislation to reduce the diversion of meth precursor chemicals like pseudoephedrine, we must also consider how best to prevent the ‘diversion’ of young lives to the destructive path of meth abuse.”


Drug prevention through the President’s national drug control strategy is focused on stopping drug use before it starts, healing America’s drug users, and disrupting the market for illegal drugs, explained Robert Denniston, director of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).  He described the importance of prevention in combating methamphetamine.


 “Reducing the demand for methamphetamine through prevention will result in less demand for the drug which will help drive down production, thereby putting less strain on the public safety officials and drug treatment providers who deal with methamphetamine’s harmful effects,” Denniston testified.  “Nationally, we have worked to support prevention activities through effective initiatives that support local efforts: the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, student drug testing grants, and the Drug Free Communities support program.”


Witnesses testified on the impact of methamphetamine use in local communities, and particularly the impact this drug has on children and families.


“The manufacture and use of the highly addictive stimulate, methamphetamine, has grown exponentially over the last 25 years gaining a strong and lethal foothold throughout the Midwest and southwestern United States.  The very nature of the drug victimizes not only the addicts but often the children within their care,” said John Icenogle, state district court judge in the 9th judicial district of Nebraska.


“Methamphetamine production and use result in tremendous economic and social costs to communities across the nation including: law enforcement and incarceration; clean-up of clandestine lab sites; addiction treatment; domestic violence; theft, burglaries, and other property crimes; emergency medical treatment; HIV/AIDS; workplace violence; environmental contamination; murders and suicides,” explained Cristi Cain, state coordinator of the Kansas Methamphetamine Prevention Project.


“Children exposed to methamphetamine environments are at great risk for physical, emotional, and developmental harm. These children frequently suffer from respiratory conditions, are malnourished and experience developmental delays,” continued Cain.


The witnesses agreed on the importance of prevention and education in combating the methamphetamine epidemic, noting that stopping drug use before it starts is the most effective means to protect against the harmful effect the drug has on children, families, schools, and communities. 

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