Graphic video shows teens dangers of crystal meth

MONTGOMERY - Governor Bob Riley and district attorneys today announced the next phase of the state's "ZERO METH" campaign includes a DVD being sent to high schools that graphically shows the harmful effects of using methamphetamine.

According to law enforcement officials, meth is the number one drug threat facing Alabama today. With a combination of state and federal funds, Governor Riley and the Alabama District Attorneys Association launched the "ZERO METH" campaign earlier this year to combat what is being called a "meth epidemic" in the state.

"We've trying to do something fundamentally different to deal with what I consider is the most insidious, most destructive drug we've ever had in Alabama," said Governor Riley. "We're trying to make sure every child understands what the consequences truly are if they try meth even once."

At a news conference in the State Capitol, Governor Riley unveiled the DVD titled "The Harsh Realities of Meth" that has been distributed to high schools throughout the state.  The Governor, DAs and the Alabama Department of Education are all encouraging school officials to show the DVD to students, either during student assemblies or in classes.  The video follows on the heels of the award-winning "ZERO METH" media campaign, which featured graphic television commercials and billboard ads that raised public awareness about the dangers of meth.

After showing the gripping video to the audience and members of the press, Governor Riley said the effort to distribute the DVDs to high schools will arm children and their parents with the facts they need to combat meth.

"The only way we're ever going to be able to combat this is to change people's minds about ever using it that first time," he said.  "We have to get that message out and show them how dramatically different their lives will be if they ever take it that first time."

District Attorney Michael Jackson, who represents Dallas, Perry, Hale, Wilcox and Bibb counties, agreed and said communicating through means such as video and the internet is more effective in reaching young people.

"We live in a video age," Jackson said. "You can talk all day and you'll get a few of them who will really listen.  But when they see a video, it is something they will pay attention to.  This is going to be really effective."

Etowah County District Attorney Jimmy Harp said that meth's harmful effects are far-reaching in Alabama.

"The statistics are staggering," Harp said. "Well over 50 percent of the kids in foster care in northeast Alabama come from a meth home.  Well over 80 percent of all the crimes we prosecute are somehow meth-related."

The video was produced by the Alabama District Attorneys Association and is being distributed to schools by the Alabama Department of Education. Sue Adams, director of the department's Office of Prevention and Support Services, said getting this message out to schools is a priority for educators.

"This is the most lethal drug that these children and youth - or any adult - can take into their bodies," Adams said. "And it is true you get addicted that first time you try it."

The video includes interviews with inmates whose meth additions led to prison sentences, a doctor who describes and shows the ugly physical changes that happen to meth users, and before-and-after photos of people who used meth.