Coalition meets to quell meth use |

Coalition meets to quell meth use

Target the seventh-graders.

Drug abuse often starts at that age, but it’s also when children listen to warnings about drugs, Nevada County officials agreed during a Wednesday brainstorming session at Rood Administrative Center.

Guest speaker Bill Etter, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency special agent, said seventh grade is a “golden age” to save kids from drugs – or lose them.

“Ultimately, prevention boils down to what happens in the home,” he said. “If it doesn’t happen in the home, it’s not going to happen anyplace else.”

Dana Deily, a case manager for Nevada County drug offenders, nodded in agreement. She has a daughter in seventh grade, and some of her friends “are already veering off and starting to dabble in drugs.”

“It just seems like all of a sudden the floodgate opened,” Deily said, “and all of these kids started doing things they weren’t doing a year ago.”

The meeting was the latest aimed at combating methamphetamine, and the first to generate a course of action.

Wednesday’s group – which included mental health, law enforcement and social workers – hopes to launch a youth-oriented activity in October, but specifics are far from settled.

“It’s going to have to be as intense, in my mind, as the campaign launched against tobacco,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeff Glover of the county Narcotics Task Force.

The group has been focusing on methamphetamine addiction since its first meeting in June.

“I think meth, for Nevada County, is the most dangerous drug we face,” Glover said.

But Terry McAteer, county superintendent of schools, cautioned the group Wednesday against “overblowing” concerns about meth use among kids.

He pointed to results from a survey of county seventh-graders, freshmen and juniors that showed alcohol and marijuana use is more prevalent.

Two percent of freshmen and 2 percent of juniors claimed they used meth within 30 days of taking the survey. That compares to 16 percent of freshmen and 24 percent of juniors for marijuana, and 28 percent of freshman and 45 percent of juniors for alcohol.

The figures were much higher in the continuation and alternative high schools – 11 percent for meth, 59 percent for marijuana, 67 percent for alcohol.

Pot and alcohol often lead to meth use, others responded.

“If marijuana is a prevalent issue, it’s only a matter of time before they get wrapped up in that issue and start using meth,” said Warren Daniels of Nevada County Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery.

The group plans to meet again in a couple of weeks.

Dialing in a dealer? Calling about a crank lab?

To root out methamphetamine dealers and manufacturers, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office has set up a 24-hour hot line for tipsters.

“Hello, this is the Nevada County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force,” a recorded male voice says. “Please leave your message after the tone. Thank you.”

Callers can identify themselves or remain anonymous.

“There’s a lot of citizens that have information, and that’s where we get a start on many of these cases,” Lt. David Baxley said Wednesday

Baxley is interested to see how it works. He expects to get calls from neighbors concerned about possible drug activity. It’s also not uncommon for people burned in drug deals to become informants.

Sheriff Keith Royal said the idea came partly from San Diego County, which has a hot line, Web site and methamphetamine strike force.

In addition to the hot line, narcotics agents will start bringing social workers to drug busts. Dana Deily, a caseworker for drug offenders, said she expects to work alongside officers, but details haven’t been worked out.

The premise, she said, is “to deal with the family as a whole.”

The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office has a new 24-hour hot line to report methamphetamine activity. Call 265-4178.

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