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A SWAT in the meth mouth

Submitted by on Friday, 27 February 2009 No Comment

There is no denying the impact of methamphetamine, from the shattered shells of human beings ghost-walking through towns to the toxic crap clandestine labs generate to the lives of children raised by people who have no compunction about leaving a sippy cup next to a drug cook.

One study, in fact, puts the economic cost of a single lab at $350,000 by the time cleanup, treatment, incarceration and welfare totals are tallied. A RAND Corp. study released just this month puts the national costs of meth at $23.4 billion in 2005

But in a country where we already spend millions on Red Ribbon Week – a title only a speech therapist could love – Drug Abuse Resistance Education and myriad other programs, some with debatable results, do we really need another system of grants to help schools teach the evils of drugs?

Montana Democrat Max Baucus thinks we do, and for the second session in a row he’s introduced the “Meth Mouth Prevention and Community Recovery in the Senate. This time, it’s known as S 450.

The bill calls for the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention to award grants of up to $50,000 a year for three years for demonstration projects that develop teaching aids, buy posters, buttons and stickers and train drug educators, parents and others about the dangers of tooth decay from meth.

“Demonstration project:” That means no one knows if it will work. But Baucus wants to spend $1 million a  year for three years anyway.

He wants to spend an additional $200,000 a year for three years for to study how serious a problem meth mouth – that’s the severe tooth decay common in users – is and its impact on tax-funded dental programs.

But that’s not all. He proposes $500,000 a year for three years to train dental professionals to recognize drug and alcohol abuse in patients and their families and to help abusers find treatment.

It’s encouraging that Baucus is at least focusing on prevention instead of incarceration. But, still, $1.7 million a year for three years, the bulk of it going to create programs of undetermined value for schools?

Give me an hour at a computer and I’ll give you a powerful PowerPoint that would scare teens far worse than the “this is your brain on drugs” campaign, because the images are truly impulsive. I’d be happy to volunteer my services to any school or police agency that’s interested. I’m not so good at math, but I think free’s cheaper than $50,000.

There are parents like me in every community who have the technical and creative skills and are more than eager to help.

Sen. Baucus, tell school districts to use us instead of spending money on a slick, pricey program. A sticker never kept a kid off drugs. A parent can.

And Stop Wasting America’s Time with costly legislation that creates programs a community easily could come up with on its own.

Know of someone who deserves a SWAT? Click here to make a nomination.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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