YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) – Police say crystal meth trafficking and drug abuse is on the rise. When it comes to crime, police say 80 percent of all property crimes committed involve a meth user, stealing anything of value, to sell for a quick fix.
In our special report, 13 On Your Side Reporter Jonathan Athens shoes how meth is tied to local crime and one man's story on trying to kick the addictive drug.
Most folks are well aware meth is a serious problem even though they don't necessarily see the impact up close. We present this report to you told mainly in the words of the people who have to live with the consequences every day.
"It took away," said former meth user Rodney H. "All I experienced with meth was loss. I had envisioned a better life for myself than that."
Rodney has been clean and sober for 15 years now.
He doesn't want us to show his face on camera but he did want to share with viewers what it took to get on the road to recover.
The Yuma County Sheriff's Office estimates meth and other drugs fuel approximately 80 percent of all property crimes.
Ben Horberg teaches social work at Northern Arizona University, and he is a counselor.
"People choose to use drugs because they are suffering," Horberg said.
But there's another reason meth and other drugs are a major problem in Yuma County.
"We are part of a pipeline of drugs that come up from Mexico, so we have a high impact on our community because of exposure to the substance," he said.
Shutting down meth labs and busting dealers only goes so far.
Horberg says attitudes and how some people perceive meth needs to change.
Meth has gained a mystique and a stigma that makes it harder for people to disclose or talk about meth.
Meth no longer has a grip on Rodney.
In the years since he has been clean, he has dedicated himself to helping others get on the road to recover.
And if you ask him what it takes to get there, this is what he'll tell you.
"Make a decision to stop using. See, because it begins with that, without that decision, nothing else happens."
Border Patrol agents tell us the amount of meth seized in the Yuma Sector alone has increased eightfold since 2009.
If you or someone you know needs help, call narcotics anonymous at the number listed on your screen.
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