Effingham County has made its share of headlines across the South and maybe even the nation for a variety of reasons, some good — EFACEC, Josh Reddick, for example — some not so much.
And again, the community is thrown into the spotlight for a reason that, though it has touches of comedy attached to it, remains an ongoing tragedy.
The 911 calls of two people who thought they were the victims of a home invasion but instead turned out to be, according to law enforcement, the paranoid, delusional ramblings of whacked-out meth heads, has garnered national attention. National radio news outlets and even late-night talk shows have inquired about the circumstances of the incident and about the 911 call — in which you can hear them first say there were a handful of people in their yard and in the second call they whispered that the intruders “were in the bedroom.” When asked where they were, they softly whispered back a barely audible, “I’m in the living room.”
They told deputies the bad guys were in the trees and were trying to get into their boat. There’s one problem — there was nobody trying to get into their home. They dreamed the whole thing up, a result of the meth coursing through their veins.
The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office has waged a long campaign against meth dealers and makers and they have had a great deal of success. But for all the arrests and convictions, chasing the meth heads sometimes has the feel of Sisyphus, the king from Greek mythology compelled to push a huge stone up a hill, only to have it roll back down on him every time.
The Georgia Meth Project is beginning its second wave of direct, no-punches-pulled ad campaign against the plague and scourge of meth. A survey of teens showed that 52 percent of teens see trying meth once or twice is dangerous; that’s an astounding leap of 11 percent from a survey just before the Georgia Meth Project commenced.
Methamphetamine’s effects are startling and disturbing. Users quickly become easily recognizable. Their appearance goes from normal and healthy to looking like they’ve been rolled back and forth through a parking lot quickly. Meth is extraordinarily powerful — it’s high is as much as three times as that rendered by cocaine use. It’s why it’s so addictive. The high is so high, the craving is unavoidable and massive. The elevated highs also lead to big crashes.
The more meth is used, the less a person may have the ability to experience pleasure from anything but meth. Meth users can become paranoid and delusional (last week’s 911 call is evidence of that). It can lead to violent behavior, anxiety, confusion and physical symptoms ranging from brain damage to irregular heartbeat, breathing problems and damage to the brain’s blood vessels.
People using meth and those at risk of falling susceptible to methamphetamine’s siren call of mental and physical destruction likely aren’t reading this. But somebody close to them might.
As much as the sheriff’s office needs the help of the citizens in finding meth makers and dealers and putting a stop to them, the Georgia Meth Project and others who want to stop people from using once, even once, needs the help of those who think someone they know is using and might use it.
If you want to change Methingham back to Effingham, the sheriff’s office and the Georgia Meth Project could use your help.