Forums Raise Meth Awareness


Maggie Wall/KMXT

The use of methamphetamines-or meth-is reportedly becoming an increasing problem in Kodiak.

Meth comes in many forms, can be made at home and provides a long-lasting energizing high. Unfortunately, meth is also extremely addictive – officials say that sometimes the first use is all it takes to start an addiction. That’s why health and law enforcement experts tell people its best not to ever start.

One of the ways to deter the use of meth, and to help families in crisis, is awareness. That was part of what attendees learned last night at a public discussion on meth in Kodiak.

Sponsored by the Native Village of Afognak, the gathering included official speakers, but also included personal, heart-felt stories from the audience of how meth had destroyed lives and families.

The Executive Director of the Kodiak Women’s Resource and Crisis Center, Rebecca Shields, said her organization is seeing a change in women seeking shelter:

–((KWRCC :16 "The cases that….has increased."))

Shields added that more of the women seeking shelter are themselves addicted to meth, which, since the shelter has a zero-tolerance stance on drugs, means it is increasingly harder to find safe shelter for them.

Several people last night wanted to know what a meth user looks like. The answer-they look just like everyone else.

Doctor Shawn Vainio (Vae-nee-o) from Kodiak Island Medical Associates said the photos you see of people with a mouth full of rotten teeth, or a person with sores on the face isn’t what you will see with most meth user. Those serious effects are the result of chronic use. He said most meth users are identified better by the way they act rather than how they look.

Since meth speeds up the body’s nervous system, look for hyperactivity, over reacting emotions, violent behavior, unpredictability and paranoia. Moodiness and depression are common when crashing off the drug. Users tend to lose interest in food and show rapid weight losses.

If you suspect a friend or family member is using meth, there are a number of resources in town. The hospital, local medical clinics and social service agencies can provide assistance and information.


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