MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Methampehtamine: It's second only to cocaine in Alabama when it comes to drug use. Federal, state and local authorities are teaming up and trying to get the deadly drug off our streets.
Meth is highly addictive and toxic. It can cause hallucinations, aggression, skin sores and damage to the teeth. And like many drugs, it's not an easy addiction to beat.
In Coffee County a mother cries: "I just hope he can stop!" Her son was being arrested again for using meth. "I don't wish any parent to go through this," she said through the crying, "but I know there's so many out there."
Meth impacts more than just the user, "...touches everybody," says Coffee County Narcotics investigator Neal Bradley. It touched him. He knows the dangers because, "Ten years ago my sister got hooked on meth."
Bradley had to arrest his own sister. "It's what they call tough love," he explained. "It was either that or see her die somewhere." A year later, she was clean.
"It was an eye opener for me; that's why I got into law enforcement and that's why I got into working narcotics," Bradley recalled. "I'm very passionate about it..."
Bradley's passion is shared by K.K. Strickland, a 20-year-old who visits the Coffee County Sheriff's Office often. She hopes someday to be just like Bradley, a narcotics officer working to get drugs off the streets. "She's aight," Bradley says jokingly.
The story of their meeting is unusual, to say the least. "She come over and talked to us and told us what she'd been doing." She'd been making and using meth. "She actually had a lab hid..." Bradley recalled of his first interactions with the young woman.
She got hooked on meth at the tender age of 16. "Everybody was talking about how good it was and how it sped you up," she explained. And because she was working hard she felt she needed something to help "keep me up".
The second time she tried it K.K. was hooked. "My life went downhill from there." Meth ruled her life for four long years. "I was all about just looking for the next high."
Eventually, she found herself wlling to do anything to get her fix, and that's what makes this drug so dangerous says members of the Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA discovered more than 600 labs in 2008. The more the addict uses the drug the more they have to use to get that high.
K.K. thought she was in control of her habit until one night inside a Wal-Mart store. High on meth she found herself arrested for shoplifting. "It was the scariest moment in my life," she recalled, because she new it was over when they asked her to empty her pockets. "I knew I had my dope in my front right pocket..."
Now busted, the young woman's life began to unravel. "I lost my house, I lost my car, I lost my family," she said. It was the worst moment in her life. Ironically, in the downward spiral it turned out losing her son was the best thing that could have happened to K.K. It became her motivation to get clean.
It wasn't easy, though. "I felt like crap," she remembered. "You cramp up; everything just locks up."
Now clean for several months, she's determined never to touch meth again. And she's changing too, not just mentally, but physically. Bradley notices the difference. "She's gained about...40 pounds."
For this young woman, the pleasure of meth just isn't worth the pain. "It takes three things from you: Your friends, your family and your life."