Feb 13, 2014 12:04 PM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News

The cost of meth in Montana

HELENA - Methamphetamine is more commonly referred to as meth, ice, crystal meth, chalk, or crank. It's clear, translucent color is a measure of its quality on the streets.

"We're getting a lot purer meth. The manufacturing when it's manufactured in a lab, which is happening in Mexico and being brought up. It's far purer than it is when somebody is making it in their basement," said Helena's assistant police chief Steve Hagen.

The Missouri River Drug Task Force works undercover, making buys in an effort to keep it off the streets.

In 2011 law enforcement seized 818 grams of meth in the Helena area. So far in 2014, they've already confiscated more than 828 grams.

"In 2012, the Helena police department seized $128,000 worth of meth for the entire year. So far in 2014, law enforcement has already confiscated more than $150,000 in meth," said Hagen.

The average street value for meth is $187 a gram. The cost of meth is much more than its street value. It can cost users their jobs, their families, or even their lives.

"Using alcohol will release up to 100 to 200 units of dopamine in your brain. Cocaine, anywhere from 100-300 units of dopamine. Methamphetamine can release up to 1,250 units in general of dopamine in your brain, an incredible euphoric effect to somebody that's using methamphetamine. Which is why it can be so powerful even after using it just once," explained Helena Pre-Release Center Officer Amy Tenney.

It's estimated that 50 percent of adults in Montana prisons are there due to meth-related crimes; the cost to the state is estimated at $60 million a year.

About 20 percent of adults in treatment are there for meth addiction. This is said to cost the state around $6 million a year.

"One of the reasons that we tend to treat methamphetamine addiction for longer periods of time is because it takes up to sometimes up to 18 months for the brain to start to really heal itself from the damage that it has caused by prolonged methamphetamine use," Tenney said.

Those working to combat meth and the problems surrounding its use are hoping communities will band together to fight against this toxic substance before it ruins more lives.

"We base almost everything we do including the drug task force on tips and information that folks provide. Without it we can't combat this," said Hagen.


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