Dr. Mary Holley and her family discovered crystal meth the hard way. Holley's youngest brother, Jim, committed suicide after succumbing to the worst affects of the addiction.
"He was so sure he was in control of his life," says Holley, "he wouldn't accept any intervention and that's pretty typical for a methamphetamine addict."
She now devotes her life to helping other families avert this kind of tragedy. In Holley's groundbreaking study published last year, she advocates that we not only make ourselves aware of crystal meth, but that we take active steps to combat it in our homes and communities.
Dr. Holley says, "One of things I emphasize when I working with parents is, 'you have a right, you have an obligation to go through that kid's room. Turn it upside down and here's what you're looking for."
Pipes and bongs can resemble anything, including highlighters. "Geeker bags" are innocent looking sacks or pencil cases containing everything you need to get high. Drastic changes in behavior could also be early warning signs your child is using meth.
Holley says, "You've got to take responsibility for your children to make sure they understand what this drug is and what it can do to them."
Holley says trying to convince a meth addict to seek help themselves is virtually useless. "Most of them have to get so sick that they're incarcerated before they realize this drug is not actually the wonderful thing they thought it was," says Holley.
Holley recommends a more direct approach to intervention, something she says families need to understand if they really want to help a loved one with a meth addiction.
"He's going to steal from you a long time before he steals from somebody else." Holley says. "If you sign the arrest warrant and have him thrown in jail, he has a chance to wake up and realize what he's doing to his life."
Holley says it's also never too soon to begin teaching your children about the dangers of crystal meth. She's dealt with addicts as young as eight years old.
"They know where daddy keeps his stash. They see that daddy solves his problems by getting high. So when they come home from a bad day at school, they go get high."
Schools across the country are wising up by including informative videos Holley's produced as part of its health curriculum.
"It's not just the school's problem. Employers need to educate their employees," Holley adds.
Holley says the only way law enforcement will win the uphill battle against crystal meth is if we all join in.
"I think it's important to realize you don't have to wear a badge to do something about methamphetamine," says Holley.
Alabama has seen a large reduction in number of homemade meth labs producing the drug since it moved the key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, behind the counter. What that has done, however, has created a demand now being met by drug dealers importing crystal meth from superlabs across the boarder in Mexico. It's still in our communities just mainly coming from a different source.
For more information on Dr. Mary Holley, click on the link below: