WASHINGTON — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today participated in an educational event at The George Washington University as part of National Methamphetamine Awareness Day, the largest single-day national education effort warning against the dangers of meth abuse. Today’s event brought together the nation’s leading experts on drug abuse to discuss the impact that meth production and use has on individuals, the environment and communities across the country.
Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive drug that dramatically affects users’ minds and bodies. Chronic use can lead to violent behavior, paranoia, and an inability to cope with the ordinary demands of life. According to the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, individuals in the 18-25 age group are the most likely to be using meth. Additionally, it is estimated that more than 10 million people have abused meth, with approximately 512,000 users in 2005.
Over the past five years, the Department of Justice and law enforcement around the nation have made significant progress combating the supply of methamphetamine by reducing the number of small meth labs in the U.S.; however, meth use continues to be a problem. National Methamphetamine Awareness Day is a coordinated effort not only to reach potential meth users with a message of prevention, but also to educate current users about the programs available to them.
“While the damaging effects of methamphetamine abuse are often clearly displayed on the faces of its victims, it is the wake of destruction meth leaves on families, communities and the environment that makes this drug so devastating to society,” stated Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “National Methamphetamine Awareness Day is an important opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of meth abuse and reduce demand for this very addictive and destructive drug.”
Attorney General Gonzales was joined today by a panel of experts that included Dr. H. Westley Clark, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Deputy Assistant Administrator Joseph T. Rannazzisi of the Office of Diversion Control at the Drug Enforcement Administration; Vicki West Sickels, Research Counselor for Iowa Health in Des Moines, Iowa; and Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse for the National Institutes of Health. Today’s event was hosted by The George Washington University Medical Center. The panel discussion covered topics including what meth is and the scope of the problem nationwide, the production process and the dangers involved, the effects meth has on the mind and body, the impact meth has on the community, and effective prevention and treatment.
On Nov. 27, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 30, 2006 to be National Methamphetamine Awareness Day as part of a nationwide effort to further educate the American public about the effects of methamphetamine abuse on families and communities. Leading this effort, the Department of Justice coordinated over 100 events across the country by working with partners at the federal, state and local level, in the government, private and non-profit sectors. Additionally, the Department launched Meth 101, a powerful educational tool that is available to the public for use by law enforcement, community groups and local leaders in addressing meth use in their communities. The educational presentation is posted on the Department’s new Meth Awareness Web site: http://www.usdoj.gov/methawareness.
In order to increase the impact of the National Methamphetamine Awareness Day message, the Department of Justice partnered with a number of federal, state and local governments, as well as with private sector and non-profit entities, including the U.S. Department of Labor; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Interior; Office of National Drug Control Policy; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the Partnership for a Drug-Free America; Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; Fraternal Order of Police; National District Attorneys Association; National Association of Attorneys General; National Sheriffs’ Association; International Association of Chiefs of Police; National Organization for Victims Assistance; Inter-Association Task Force on Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse Issues; American Council on Education; National Association of Student Personnel Administrators; American College Health Association; Association of Fraternity Advisors; and the National Panhellenic Conference.
For more information about National Methamphetamine Awareness Day events in your community, contact the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs at 202-514-2007 or visit http://www.usdoj.gov/methawareness.