The abuse of methamphetamine in East Texas has increased dramatically over the years, and the drug effects not only the person using it, but their families and our community as a whole. Child protective services says 90% of their cases involve drugs, and it's usually meth.
Since 2000, the number of meth lab busts in Texas increased 40%, and that number is not going down anytime soon.
"Everybody uses it," said James Bouscher, recovering meth user. "You'll have the rich using it, children, poor people, mothers, fathers and a lot of times even the best people you know, it destroys their lives." Users say the reason meth is so popular is because it's cheap and it's easy to make.
"Cooking dope is easier than making breakfast," said Bouscher. "Once you got the cooking dope down, you have it in 45 minutes, out on the streets, slanging it, and you're god."
"It's a monster," said Cullen Hawkins, recovering meth user. "It's like a monster that grows inside of you. Your stomach starts to turn when you think about it. You start to shake, your just physically addicted to it." For many, the first time they use meth, they're hooked.
"Meth took everything away from me," said April Seago, recovering meth user. "It robbed me blind of everything and I have three small children, a family that loves me and I got dependent on it." These recovering meth users say, parents need to start looking for signs of meth use in their children.
"Big dark pupils," said Seago. "The black under the eyes, losing weight."
"Isolation, you cut yourself off from the world," said Bouscher.
"Just the paleness is really what will give it away the most," said Hawkins. "They look like their dead. They look like their walking dead." Tammy Stidham works for child protective services. She says children also need to be educated.
"We have kids who need psychiatric care if someone is killed, and kids who have seen and observed their parents doing meth right in front of their eyes," said Stidham. "Kids think it's ok because they've seen parents do it." Users say meth will always be available to those that want it, but good education could prevent one from ever trying it.
If you want to learn more about meth and its impact in East Texas, there is a Meth Summit tomorrow from 8:00 a.m. till 11:30 a.m.. It will be held at the Peace Officers Association Building in Tyler. It's free to the public, and all are welcome to attend.