U reportedly stays clear of meth problem

Elizabeth Cook

Methamphetamine use is a problem throughout the United States, but health officials at the University said they had not seen a major increase in abuse of the drug.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 1.4 million people nationally, aged 12 or older, had used meth in the previous year.

Mary Roske-Groth, a clinical social worker at Boynton Health Service and its only drug counselor, said she has not seen a significant increase in meth users in the past five years.

Roske-Groth said she does see some students, but most of them are experimental users.

Boynton conducted a drug-use survey of University students in spring 2005, said Katherine Lust, the associate program director at Boynton.

It was a random survey of 6,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24.

The survey found that out of 2,932 respondents, 4.8 percent said they had used some kind of amphetamine in the previous 12 months.

This isn’t limited to meth, Lust said. Diet pills also have amphetamines in them.

Roske-Groth said dieting is a reason some women decide to use meth, which decreases the appetite, Roske-Groth said.

Lust said most college students don’t use meth, though, because they wouldn’t be able to stay in school.

“It takes them down fast,” she said.

Meth users, when under the influence, become paranoid, anxious, sleep deprived and start scratching their faces until they scab and scar.

But people continue to use the drug because it’s highly addictive, Roske-Groth said.

Steve Johnson, University Police Department deputy chief, said most drug-related arrests at the University are for marijuana, not meth.

When drugs like meth, cocaine and crack are found, he said, it’s normally during a traffic stop.

While the University is comparatively meth-free, the rural areas of Minnesota were experiencing problems with people making the drug with a common ingredient in cold medicines: pseudoephedrine.

But, as of July 2005, those drugs can no longer be purchased over the counter, Lust said.

Valerie Pilgrim, a Boynton pharmacist, said anyone who wants drugs containing pseudoephedrine has to be 18, have a picture ID and needs to sign for it.

People are allowed only 6 grams of the substance in a 30-day period, Pilgrim said.

At the University, she said, it seems like students are legitimately buying medicines containing the drug for colds and not for drug abuse.

Deborah Durkin, an environmental research assistant for the Minnesota Department of Health, said the manufacture of meth is down, but use is increasing.

Ron Reier, Minneapolis police spokesman, said meth labs might be easier to have in rural areas, but more of the drug is consumed in the cities.

Thomas Kelly, a special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration with the Minneapolis-St. Paul district, said that even though a lot of the meth labs have been busted, drug trafficking is now a problem.