Dec 152009

No doubt you’ve seen a few ads like this yourself: The photo of a wet, dirty and disgusting bathroom stall — toilet paper and human waste smeared everywhere — then the white text, “No one ever imagines loosing their virginity here … Meth will change that.” Or the other one with blood spatters and a razor blade that reads, “No one ever thinks they’ll try to tear off their own skin.” Apparently meth will change that, too.

According to data compiled by the Colorado Meth Project, the state of Colorado ranked eighth in the nation for meth use, and crime related to meth use is 56 percent higher in Colorado than the national average. That’s crazy, especially considering the National Association of Counties surveyed 500 sheriff’s departments in which more than half responded that they consider meth the most serious problem facing their departments, showing that meth is already a huge national problem. And we have it even worse.

I attended a meeting during the summer in which the Executive Director of the Colorado Meth Project explained the rationale behind the grotesque and possibly distasteful ad campaign they’ve embarked on.

While the Colorado Meth Project is doing good, mere ads can’t solve the meth problem. My personal experience tells me that we need to be role models ourselves to help people fall into meth addiction.

Having been successfully scared clean by a half decade of the “Just Say No to Drugs,” campaign, I’ve never used meth, but the images and the numbers remind me of dating a “recovering addict” when I lived down in Gunnison. She was recovering from a coke addiction and would say to me, “Honest, you’ve got to believe me, I don’t use it — I just sell it.” That was a crazy week of conversations.

I recall when I had first met her, she was struggling to make the best of a rough family situation and attempting to balance work and school. By the time we really started hanging out a year later, she’d gone through enough to fill an encyclopedia — family interventions, failing classes, a couple rehab programs and counseling. It was like one of those after school specials, without the happy ending as she filled in the blanks where the Lifetime movies fade to black.

I guess that’s what has drawn me to the new ad campaign, which will see me on Thursday lined up for another dose when ASCSU brings the Colorado Meth Project’s Program Director Jonathan Judge to speak on campus. The ads they are using to help prevent people from trying meth such as, “Not Even Once,” are made in cooperation with recovering addicts from partnering programs.

The goal is to present real and graphic descriptions of the actual circumstances people have found themselves in. Forty-one percent of Colorado meth addicts started using meth at age 17 or younger, which is why this is such an important issue for the CSU community to address.

Preventing young people from having to go through meth addiction is a huge task and a major concern in the Fort Collins and Larimer County community. Who better to communicate the message against meth than CSU students? I remember how many college friends I spent summers with as a lifeguard in Southern California and winters teaching skiing and snowboarding in Summit County and even as a Science Olympiad mentor. How many little “mini-mes” did we have running around trying to be like us?

When I was in little league going to sports camps near college campuses, the student coaches were the people I listened to so well, my parents didn’t recognize me. Who has more contact and more influence of the behaviors of our communities’ young people than CSU students?

I think we students can do that make a huge difference in fighting meth abuse by being good role models.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student in environmental and radiological health sciences. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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