Lassen County battles methamphetamine
Chairman Brian Dahle asked for at a previous meeting. Specifically, he wanted a more expanded understanding of the meth problem in Lassen County.
Dahle said when talking with District Attorney Bob Burns, he noticed there were a lot of meth-related incidents before the court.
Using statistics from the health and social services department, Dornon said during the 2006/2007 fiscal year, 226 people were admitted into treatment with Alcohol and Other Drug Division.
“Here in Lassen County, it is the primary drug of choice for treatment admissions,” Dornon said. “Thirty five point nine percent of admissions reported meth as their drug of choice, compared to 19.7 percent for alcohol, 16.5 percent for heroin and 13.8 percent for marijuana.”
He said smoking meth was the preferred way of using the drug in Lassen County.
He said he’s been to a number of meth conferences where he learned smoking was the quickest way to get the drug into the system.
Dornon, a recovering meth user who’s been clean for 15 years, said he didn’t agree with those statements, saying intravenous use was most likely the fastest way to have the drug affect a person’s nervous system and brain.
“For people smoking it, it tends to let them feel like they’re not as bad as the IV drug user,” Dornon said. “They don’t feel as bad as someone using needles, but the devastating effects are the same.”
Of the people who admitted to meth use, 50.6 percent said they preferred smoking it, as opposed to 18.6 percent who said they used it intravenously and 7.1 percent who reported inhaling the drug through the nose.
According to Dornon, snorting or orally ingesting the drug is how people generally start, before moving on to smoking or injecting it. Dornan said it is commonly known that meth users often use other drugs, either as a gateway that leads to meth use or as a way to counteract meth’s affects.
However, 40 percent of meth users in Lassen County said they didn’t have a secondary drug of choice.
He said 23.5 percent who come to the AOD are self-referrals, meaning people taking it upon them to seek treatment; Roughly 23.4 percent come from the criminal justice system, while 41.2 percent come from other local agencies.
“We’ve upgraded our treatment services over the last few years,” Dornon said. “In the process, we’ve improved our treatments and our treatment outcomes.”
“What we do now is a more client-centered treatment. People who stay in treatment longer stay clean and sober longer. They have more time for the rest of their life to be productive in their community.”
Pregnant IV drug users are first priority as far as who AOD takes in for treatment, followed by other pregnant women, other IV drug users and then everyone else.
Dornon said multiple levels of outpatient treatments, as well as 27 recovery groups totaling roughly 58 support hours. Treatment plans for clients are reviewed and or updated once a month, with an individual counseling session every month as well.
Dornon said the latest National Drug and Alcohol Services Information System report stated increased length of stay in substance abuse treatment has been associated with improved outcomes.
He said AOD has taken that fact to heart, with 17.5 percent of their clients opting for 120-179 days of treatment compared to the state average of 12.3 percent.
Meth was invented in Japan in 1893, and one of its earliest uses was by the Nazis during World War II. Dornon said even Hitler was given a daily cocktail of drugs, one of which was meth. Under the name Desoxyn, it’s a prescribed medication used to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, extreme obesity and narcolepsy. It is generally only used when all other medications fail.
Dornon said there have been some studies showing a permanent change in the body occurring after using meth, actually restructuring neural pathways in the brain.
His report said acute intoxication from prolonged use could result in hyperthermia, convulsions, renal failure strokes and heart attacks.
Dornon also said long-term use can also lead to a complete social and psychological breakdown, leading to effects such as paranoia, depression, anxiety, delusions, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms can lead to domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect and a myriad of other illegal activities.
District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson said the presentation really drove the point home about the meth problem in Lassen County.
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