TROY, AL (WSFA) - Meth is a growing issue in Troy, one that police want parents to talk about with their children, but for one man, it was a life-altering experience.
Chris Johnson said he was 17 years old the very first time he tried meth. The recovered addict, who is now in his mid-30s, said he was in the wrong place with the wrong people.
"I did it in coffee because I was scared to stick anything up my nose or smoke," Johnson said. "I was nervous, so they put it in coffee. I liked the feeling at that point in time. You know, it gives you so much energy."
It didn't take long for the problem to go from bad to worse.
"I started putting it my nose because I saw how everyone else did it," Johnson said. "I felt weak because I needed the coffee. I lost 60 pounds and the respect over everyone I care about."
Johnson said he spent three years on the drug before moving to Florida to get clean. After two years, he was able to move back to Troy and turn his life around.
His future is bright. He has a job, a fiancée and three young children. Johnson said he is not ashamed of his past but uses it as a cautionary tale to hopefully help and inspire others.
He vividly recalls how easy it was for him to get his hands on the drugs.
"It was almost as easy as walking in a convenience store, grabbing a drink and paying for it with cash," Johnson said. "It was easy. I knew a lot of people."
Johnson said the drug was prevalent around the time he left for Florida, had died down when he came back, but seemed to have pick back up lately.
According to Troy Police Lt. Bryan Weed meth, which they also refer to as "ICE" when it's in a more potent form, has fluctuated in Troy through the years, but he said there hasn't been a drastic increase in any particular year. However he said officers have seen a difference in how people are getting their hands on it.
"We don't have the same issue as far as labs. When I first started in Narcotics, we dealt with a lot of red phosphorous labs. Now we see a lot of the one-pot cooks, and shake and bake things you see on TV. We see a lot more 'ICE' coming from cartels from south of border now than we once did," Weed said.
Government regulations on the purchase of products that go toward making meth have aided in the shift of people getting the drug in other ways. Lt. Weed said incoming product from outside of the state makes it a bit harder to track.
"When they were cooking, it was easier cause they had to buy the products. Now that it's already being made, it's falling in line to cocaine and some of the other ones" Weed said.
Stories like Johnson's are rare, and both he and Weed said the drug is extremely addictive and hard to beat. However, it is possible. Johnson said you have to want it.
"It can be done, but you've got to want to. No one can want it for you. You can get all the help in the world, but it won't change until you do. It's a better life this way," Johnson said.
For Troy Police, meth isn't the most common drug they have to deal with. It is a concern, however, and they want parents to be talking with their children and for people who are struggling to seek help.