SAMHSA Survey Presents Idaho with Tough Facts
> 4/17/2008 11:33:33 AM

Taking a page out of the high-profile success achieved by neighboring Montana, the state of Idaho began its own Meth Project earlier this year. As part of the same prevention effort founded by Thomas Siebel in 2005, Idaho's effort hopes to match the success and visibility that the expanding Meth Project has brought to other states. If they are to get there, Idaho now knows that it has a steep hill to climb. Data released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) this week as part of their Drug and Alcohol Services Information Systems (DASIS) report series indicates that Idaho's meth problem is one of the worst in the nation, and that meth use actually grew at a faster rate than use of either alcohol or marijuana among the state's residents.

As the Boise Weekly reported yesterday, meth use saw a 35 percent increase compared to alcohol and marijuana use, which increased by 22.5 and 23 percents respectively. Idaho has outpaced the US numbers, in terms of overall mental health services, over the past several years but has not been any harder hit than the US at large in terms of reported past month illicit substance use. Despite this, meth remains a damaging problem not only in Idaho, but throughout the Rocky Mountain states. This problem has been met with rising levels of funding for primary prevention in Idaho, with the Meth Project acting as a centerpiece in the prevention effort.

A DASIS report from earlier this year looked specifically at admissions to substance abuse treatment for methamphetamine. The region of the US denoted the West in the survey accounted for 65 percent of all meth admissions. The survey also revealed that while other drugs saw admissions occur in about equal rates for criminal justice situations and self-reports, with meth, admissions were twice as likely to be the result of a legal proceeding than an individual seeking help on their own. As a report from Montana illustrated earlier this month though, success is possible. In that state, since the Meth Project began three years ago, teen meth use has declined by almost half, and adult meth use has dropped by an astounding 72 percent. It's early in the Project for Idaho, but with support and vigilance, that kind of response is not impossible. With the experience of turning Montana's situation around already at their back, the Meth Project may soon be able to help Idaho's residents rid their state of methamphetamine.

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