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High school students in Springfield this week have been hearing about the experiences of former methamphetamine users. KSMU’s Julie Greene has more on this effort to prevent students from getting involved with the drug.
“I hurt my family, like I said my brother cannot talk about it. Drug addiction is such a selfish addiction and disease that you don’t think about the others that you’re hurting.”
Tiffany Eis speaks before juniors and seniors inside the Glendale High School gymnasium. At one point during her presentation on the dangers of meth, she sits down, pulls up her pant legs, and removes her prosthetics. Drug addiction not only led Eis to losing both of her legs below the knee, but also caused two strokes, and forced her to undergo a heart valve replacement; all before her 30th birthday.
"I was already wondering 'How am I gonna get drugs?' I was laying in the hospital. I don't have feet. I can't drive. I can't even walk. Heck, I can't even wheel a wheelchair, but I was thinking about getting drugs," Eis said.
Now, six years sober, Eis is one of the two keynote speakers for the grassroots, nonprofit organization, Don’t Meth with Missouri, which has partnered with the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast.
John Horton is the founder and current chairman for the program, which is offered to students beginning in the fifth grade.
“Because it has a 90% chance addiction rate, if they try it one time, there’s a 90% chance, they’re going to get addicted, so we feel like the only way to keep them from trying it is to really let them know how dangerous it is to begin with. We feel like education is really the only way that’s going to happen,” Horton said.
As Horton and Eis both stressed, meth is an epidemic. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, through July of this year, Missouri’s 2013 count of reported meth cases was at 982, with 42 of those occurring in Greene County.
Horton’s idea for the program came after attending a Rotary International convention where he met a man who had started a similar program in New Mexico. Now, four years after bringing the idea to Springfield, 25,000 students have observed the presentation. Horton also travels to different counties throughout the state in hopes of persuading other rotary clubs to start something similar.
If you would like to find out more about the Don’t Meth With Missouri program, there will be a free community event open to the public at 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening at Marshfield High School, followed by a question and answer session with both speakers.
For KSMU News, I’m Julie Greene.