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Meth problem hasn't hit Liberty yet
Officials nationwide fred over drug plague
meth types collage
Methamphetamine comes in many forms. - photo by Florida Stop Meth Campaign
For the first time ever, the state attorney general released a nationwide and statewide study on the economic costs of methamphetamine abuse, and justice system experts said the results were staggering.
According to the study conducted by RAND Corporation, the national cost of meth abuse for one year exceeds $23.4 billion. Georgia spends approximately $1.3 billion addressing the problem.
“Methamphetamine is crippling our state. We spend millions each year on meth-related incarcerations alone, and yet the number of addicts in Georgia continues to grow rapidly,” said Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker. “If we do nothing, our criminal justice system will reach a breaking point.”
Liberty County’s Multi Agency Crack Enforcement (MACE) Commander Captain Al Cato said meth is not a serious threat to the immediate area.
“Luckily, we haven’t had to deal with that problem yet,” Cato said. “We’re lucky, but if we do run across it, we’ll address it.”  
Cato said they’ve only busted one lab in Liberty County in the past three years. However, he said some surrounding areas, such as Effingham and Pembroke, seem plagued with the problem.
He also said they occasionally find “dump sites” in the area where meth producers or users have unloaded drug-related paraphernalia and waste, but Cato and his agents haven’t noticed signs of meth creation.
According to the release from Baker’s office, Georgia’s most concentrated meth use areas are further north.
“For the last five years, methamphetamine has been the fastest growing drug problem in Atlanta, Dalton and Gainesville,” Baker said.
In an effort to curb the problem and relieve Georgia tax payers from having to shoulder the financial burden associated with abuse, Baker has thrown his support behind the Georgia Meth Project.
Baker said the program is a large-scale prevention program that uses public service messages and community outreach to slow and eventually eradicate the drug.
“It’s to teach youth about the perils of ever even trying meth,” Russell Willard, spokesman for the attorney general, said. “It’s the single most addictive drug.”
Similar programs are established in Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Montana and Wyoming, and the first two states to start the program (Arizona and Montana) have seen a 45 percent decrease during the past few years.
“As a state, we must take a stand against this drug that is all too rapidly addicting our youth,” Baker said.
Cato said to ensure this problem doesn’t find its way into the community, it’s important for residents to keep their eyes out for suspicious activity.
He said one of the tell-tale signs that meth is being manufactured is the distinctive ammonia or “cat urine” smell emitted during the process. Cato encourages anyone who suspects meth is being manufactured in their neighborhood to call the police immediately.
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