One of my favorite television programs, Frontline (on PBS) did a show tonight on the Methamphetamine epidemic. This is some pretty scary stuff. Over the last couple of years local newspapers devoted several articles to this problem, and its growing popularity in the Mat-Su Valley. Recently local voters chose to move forward with legislation that moved pseudoephedrine based drugs behind the counter of stores (following the lead of several states, including Oklahoma). Since this legislation has passed, there hasn’t been much (if any) report on whether or not the use of meth has decreased in the Valley. I would assume that meth use has been affected, but I’d be interested in getting some figures. Does anyone have this info?

The Valley has been dubbed by the Alaska State Troopers “The Meth Capital of Alaska”. This 2005 article from the Juneau Empire describes some of the saddest effects of this addiction; meth orphans. These children (often very young) are usually left to fend for themselves while their parents cook meth, or engage in drug use sessions that can last for days.

Children being abandonded and abused by their drug-addicted parents is not a new epidemic. This also occured with other forms of drug use. The difference now? The potency and effect of the drug. Where in the past the effects of a drug (marijauna, cocaine, speed) left the user in a daze for possibly a matter of hours, meth is so potent that a single puff on a pipe can easily cloud the mind of the user for an entire day.

The Frontline show tells that an estimated 1.5 million Americans currently use meth, and the number is rising. This number represents 0.5% of the overall population, and nearly 1% of male and female Americans aged 15-65.