A new report which shows that use of the harmful drug meth is down among Idaho teens is drawing praise from Gov. Butch Otter, whose wife, Lori, has been instrumental in the state's effort to reduce consumption of the drug by youth in the state. The new report, released this week by the Centers for Disease Control, shows that between 2007 and 2009, meth use among Idaho's teens dropped by about 52 percent, a rate five times higher than the national average.
The report, officially known as the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, shows that Idaho held the top spot in the rate of decline of meth use among teens. Across the nation, there was a 10 percent drop in number of teens using meth. The success that Idaho has seen is similar to the rate of decline for neighboring Montana, which has seen a 63 percent drop in youth meth use since 2005, when it began the Montana Meth Project, which Idaho has since copied.
The report won the praise from Otter, who has been a staunch advocate for the program since its inception in 2009. “These numbers are extremely encouraging,” Otter said. “They clearly demonstrate that Idaho’s integrated approach to addressing our methamphetamine problem is having an impact. Thanks to a combination of law enforcement, treatment, and prevention efforts like the Idaho Meth Project, we are moving in the right direction. However, it is critical that we remain focused. The U.S. Justice Department says the supply of meth throughout the United States is at a five-year high.”
First Lady Otter also called on those fighting the anti-meth war to stay focused on the primary goals. “We have made tremendous progress but we need to remain vigilant in the face of these new threats,” she said. “As long as there is demand for methamphetamine, there will be someone in the business of selling it. Idahoans in the public and private sector came together in January 2008 to establish a statewide prevention effort to reduce the demand for meth in Idaho. Thanks to the thousands of people across the state who support the Idaho Meth Project, and all of Idaho’s efforts to reduce methamphetamine use, we are seeing significant shifts in attitudes and behavior.”
In early 2010, First Lady Otter was joined by officials from the Idaho Meth Project to report promising figures from Idaho's own risk assessment survey. Otter reported that the project had been successful in its first year and in permeating the airwaves with the anti-meth message. Due to the high rates of saturation in the media market, she said, Idaho youth made improvements in several key areas, including:
Six in 10 teens and seven in 10 young adults have told their friends not to use meth (up five points for teens; up 10 points for young adults)
63 percent of teens report having discussed meth use with their parents in the past year (up seven points)
68 percent of teens see great risk in suffering tooth decay as a result of meth use (up 20 points)
66 percent of teen see great risk of dying from meth use (up 16 points)
The Idaho Meth Project continues to work to persuade teens to stay away from the drug. At the press conference with First Lady Otter in January, officials released a third wave of television and radio advertisement. The new ads, which feature graphic scenes of actors playing real life scenarios told by ex-meth users, drew noticeable gasps from the crowd. Noticing the apprehension of the crowd after viewing the ads on the large auditorium screens, Otter remarked, “Pretty powerful, aren’t they?” She went on to explain that the ads were meant to be shocking and powerful in a way that would break through all other media and reach teens in a new way.
The project is also working in a less-shocking manner to influence teens; this spring, officials announced an art contest that could net winners as much as $6,500. Each county will have its own contest and entries will be judged later this summer. In August, Butch and Lori Otters are scheduled to announce the winner of the statewide anti-meth art contest, which will be drawn from the first-place finishers from all the counties.
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