A Fine Meth We're In


Montana's been running a brutal, expensive, cutting-edge anti-crystal meth campaign for a year. Why do those of us outside Big Sky Country care? Because Montana's program is tipped to expand to other states; unlike in Montana, where media groups split the cost of ads, the bill's probably going to come out of your taxes. The Missoula Independent's Jessie McQuillan has a great, long backgrounder on the program, its hype, its effects, and the nature of the meth discussion in Montana.

For the last five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's National Survey on Drug Use and Health has consistently found 0.2 percent of Americans reported meth use within a month of the survey. Four times as many Americans reported regular cocaine use; 30 times more reported regular marijuana use and 90 times more reported binge drinking, according to the report's data. Seizure of meth labs nationwide fell by more than 30 percent nationwide in 2005–66 percent in Montana specifically–and the leading provider of workplace drug testing reported a 31 percent decrease in positive meth tests in the first half of 2006, and a 45 percent decrease since 2004.

The same period has seen increasing amounts of ever-more intense media coverage. In August 2005, Newsweek called meth an "epidemic" and a "plague" and slapped the headline "America's Most Dangerous Drug" on its cover.

It's been a full month since the last ridiculous meth news. See you in September!

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  1. The advertising campaign probably won’t stop any meth users, but it will get the locals incensed at the scourge of ugly kids with f’ed up teeth. That should be enough to get some funding for more cops and programs. Isn’t that how we’re supposed to defeat snaggle-tooth kids?

  2. If the government wants to make meth uncool and unattractive to the youngins, they need to start using it themselves. I mean, would you want to do meth if you saw the governor smoking it out of a broken lightbulb on TV? Fuck no.

  3. Just passed through Big Sky Country on a road trip. The ads are everywhere, hideous paintings and billboards apparently put up by local teens. They mar beautiful landscapes, historic buildings, and quaint mountain villages. It has to be the single ugliest ad campaign in the drug war. It doesn’t make you hate meth. It makes you hate Montana.

  4. What’s the deal with meth making your teeth fall out? I’m against the drug war, but meth does seem like a fairly nasty drug.

  5. “It makes you hate Montana.”

    Excellent. The plan is working splendidly.

    Actually, I can only assume (hope) that the kids who do these meth “ads” are laughing their asses off the whole time.

  6. I’ve attended college in Missoula the past five years, and it’s been downright dismaying to watch a town with such a high interest in drug legalization just fall head-over-heels for these ads. I think in this case our semi-hippie culture, which is otherwise relatively rational on the subject of drugs, has been blindsided by visions of a government program that’s (supposedly) successful, for a change. Even some of my NORML friends are convinced that meth is this horrible horrible drug, and that its use has reached epidemic proportions in the state. Funny how they’re suckers for government propaganda when it targets a drug they’re not interested in using.

    Like Anderson says, the ads are everywhere. When you fly in to Missoula airport, that picture from the linked article is on the first billboard you see as you exit. (Great way to encourage tourists to come back! For chrissake, a disgusting meth’d out mouth is the first and last thing they see when they visit here.)

    And no, I don’t think they work, either. One of my facebook groups is called “Not Even Once,” and is devoted to sarcastically parroting this campaign’s hysterical message.


    Oh, and, the other Mark, if you knew our governor like I do you’d know why I laughed so loud when your post conjured the image of him smoking meth out of a broken light bulb. 🙂

  7. What’s the deal with meth making your teeth fall out?
    Bruxism, I think, probably coupled with inadequate dental hygiene. Or heck, even overzealous hygiene — a urge or ability to scrub teeth and gums hard for hour at a time. That’s my best guess.

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