Published: 11/05 6:37 pm
Kern County has been referred to as the methamphetamine capital of California. To see just how bad the problem is, look no further than Kern Medical Center.
"I was 32 years old when I first started using meth," said Sharon Price, a former meth addict. "It was a very pleasurable event in my life, and when I tried to stop using it, it led to a depression."
Price says her meth addiction took a devastating toll on her family, especially her children,
who were often left without a mother.
Her daughter, Ryann Price, remembers those days. "There were nights when I would wake up and she'd be gone," Ryann said. "I would open the door, and I would run across parks looking for her. It would be 5 in the morning. I was about 6 years old," said.
Price says the thrill of meth faded quickly when she was sent to prison and losing her four children. That is when she decided to get clean.
"Kern County has become known as pretty much the meth capital of the nation," explained County Supervisor Ray Watson.
A new study says 37 percent of emergency room patients at KMC have used meth. On top of that, up to 39 percent of all felony prosecutions in Kern County include meth offenses.
After seeing the numbers, Watson had the Kern County Mental Health Department put together a Meth Reduction Task Force. It is made up of local agencies, businesses, and community-based organizations.
The plan is to support local businesses in addressing drug problems and promote mentoring programs for families. "If we don't do more to address how kids get involved with using drugs in the first place, then all we're doing is throwing money at arresting people," explained Dr. Jim Waterman, Director of the Mental Health Department.