Living with Crystal Meth
Nevada is ranked number two among states for highest methamphetamine use in the country. In Washoe County, higher Methamphetamine use has been correlated with higher crime rates. All individuals should be aware of and be warned about crystal meth and the effects it has on the community. There is nothing mysterious or exciting about the lives of people that have chosen meth as their reason for living. People end up giving up their lives to the addiction. It is a twisted love affair that ruins not only the people in it but also their family and all parties involved.
Methamphetamine stimulates the central nervous system and is similar in structure to amphetamine. It is classified as a Schedule 2 drug. On occasion, it is given as a prescription for obesity. Meth is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder that can easily be dissolved in water. It can be taken orally, intravenously, or by smoking it in a pipe called an “oil burner”. As it alters the levels of dopamine in the brain, it becomes very addictive. It causes the release and stops the re-uptake of the brain’s neurotransmitter, dopamine. This leads to high levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in motivation, reward, motor function, and the experience of pleasure for human beings. Methamphetamine allows a rush and an extended stay for dopamine in the brain, which gives the user an intense feeling of euphoria or as many addicts would describe a “rush”.
When meth is a community problem, crime follows. When Washoe County is having a problem with methamphetamine use then the problem of crime is there as well. “Looking at statistics from the Research and Development team for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, meth use looks like it as gone down but we know, as officers, that this is not the case.” explains Deputy Avina, public relations officer for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. He explains that bookings have gone from 631 in 2010 to 568 in 2012 but this is not a sign that meth use has gone down. Most crimes committed in the area are directly linked to methamphetamine. It is hard to use hard statistics to show the relation between crystal meth use and crime because the information is based on people explaining their motives for a crime but is not seen in the definition of their charges. For example, burglaries and forgeries to make profits to support a habit, or being under the influence of methamphetamines when a person was involved in a violent crime.
In January 2012, numerous burglaries took place in Incline Village, Nevada. These included vehicle burglaries, commercial burglaries, and residential burglaries, as stated in the press release by Deputy Avina. The detectives of Washoe County collaborated with Placer County and the Truckee Police Department. They served a search warrant to the residence on Tramway Road in Incline Village. The search was successful as it resulted in the recovery of many stolen items from the burglaries in this area. The items included car stereo equipment, laptops, jewelry, sports memorabilia, flat screen televisions, GPS devices, credit cards, identifications, a guitar, snowboards, and a bicycle. The first suspect arrested was Matthew Stanaway , after evidence was found in his car and at the residence in Incline Village. On April 4, 2012 the second suspect was arrested, a 30-year-old resident of Reno, NV, Jason Greene. Greene was caught after pawning a watch that was identified to be part of the robberies in Incline Village. Sheriff’s believe these robberies would not have happened if these two men were not trying to fuel their drug habit. In 2006, a Washoe County court convicted Greene for felony possession of narcotics. He is now looking at twelve counts including ex-felon possessing a firearm and a felony failure to appear warrant issued following a Reno Police Department possession of a controlled substance case. There are forthcoming charges related to possession of stolen property and burglary.
The story of the robbery and the men involved does not show that methamphetamine is the problem until motives and other details are revealed. They have no direct charges containing meth but both men were on methamphetamine at the time of their crimes.
The crime rates as reported by the Department of Motor Vehicles shows how crime rates in Washoe County are higher when compared to other western states. In 2009, for every 1000 people in the population about 37 people committed a crime. The average of all other western states was about 34 out of 1000 people had committed a crime.
In Washoe County when citizens are asked, they are able to give at least one incident or tell you about a person in their lives affected by meth. In these stories there is always some kind of crime involved that would have never happened without the influence of the highly addictive and mind altering methamphetamine.
Cesar Perez is a 23-year-old father of one and resides in Stead, NV. His story of dealing with crystal meth is one that many can relate to. His cousin started using meth around the age of 14. The cousin was under the guardianship of their grandmother due to the fact that his mom was using meth also. “ When he was fifteen he stole a car from a person’s house. Remember he is on meth during this. While attempting it the owner caught him. He was already in the car so he took off ,and the guy chased him in his other car. He was running red lights until the cops caught up to him. He just got out of jail this year in January.”, Perez explains. Soon after getting out of jail Perez’s cousin goes right back to meth and it was not long before he committed another crime. Perez goes onto explain what happens next. “ He was hanging out with some girls at their house. They asked him to leave but he didn’t want to. So he told them no one could leave, pretty much threatening them. He held them hostage until he left out the back. There were cop helicopters waiting. He ran from them and they tackled him in front of his ten- year -old brother. “ Perez’s cousin is back in prison and is looking at ten years. Once again, his charges do not have methamphetamine in their definitions.
Another story from a 25-year-old, former resident of Reno, NV, named Dustin Mincen, a former addict of crystal meth, experienced many crimes while under the influence of the drug. During the interview with Mincen, when asked if he believed methamphetamine was the main reason for the crimes he was involved in, he was sure that none of the crimes he experienced would have happened without the presence of crystal meth. “Friends turn on friends, I almost died, I have been stabbed, threatened with deadly weapons over amount of money as little as one hundred dollars.” explains Mincen. In 2011, he went to Bristlecone Rehabilitation Facility and ended up leaving the facility four days into his 28-day-treatment program. Two men known to be addicted to methamphetamine just recently robbed him. Mincen knows the problems caused by meth but still does it on occasion.
There are places to go for help and support for addicts, families, and friends of people dealing with crystal meth. The Crisis Call Center is open 24/7 to report crime related problems with the drug or if someone is trying to find a rehabilitation center for themselves. Also, while housed in the Washoe County Detention Facility there are seven inmate self-help programs offered. These are privately funded through the Inmate Commissary Fund. These are not specifically meth related and are available to anyone. They include getting a GED, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, domestic violence classes, substance abuse program, parenting skills, and self-esteem skills.
Washoe County has helped fund outreach programs educating the community about meth addiction and the consequences of it, like the documentary “ Crystal Darkness”. Looking at the correlation between crime and methamphetamine use, we must all take responsibility of keeping future generations drug-free and helping people already effected by meth with finding a better path and something they can live for.
Watch below to hear a woman, Jaime Fredianelli, who has been off methamphetamine for 6 years explain her battle with the drug.
Watch below for an interview with a Detective Herrera and an inmate at Washoe County Detention Facility that illustrates the devastative effects of Methamphetamine.
Click Below for the statistics on Methamphetamine Related Bookings in the Washoe County Detention Facility.
For a testimonial of a local women about her fight with crystal meth in Reno,NV follow this link.
If you are looking for help dealing with methamphetamine addiction or need to report a related crime, please call the Crisis Call Center at 1.800.273.8255
Avina, Armando. Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Public Informaton. Press Release. Reno: , 2012. Print. .
London ED, Simon SL, Berman Sm, et al.Mood Disturbances and regional cerebral metabolic abnormalities in recently abstinent methamphetamine abusers. Arch Gen Psychiatry 61(1): 73-74, 2004
NIDA. The Science of Drug Abuse and Addicition. Methampehtamine. 2012. Web. .
*Names have been changed to protect individual identities.