As Missoula police detectives try to stop what is being called an epidemic, they say despite their efforts, drug use in Montana is a never-ending cycle.
January 10, 2002 is a date Terri Griffith will never forget.
“Everything was consumed in getting it and having it and I did prison time for manufacturing,” said Griffith, a former meth user.
Griffith’s meth lab in Kalispell was one of 15 to be shut down across the state within the first few weeks of 2002. January 10 is the day Griffith was arrested, and decided to change her life forever.
“I did quite a bit of time in holding, and I started reflecting on what my life had been like, and realized I didn’t want to be that person anymore,” Griffith said.
While some recover from their addiction, Missoula police say trying to combat drug use is a never ending process, and right now the top investigative priority is methamphetamine.
“There are more drug problems than there are investigators in this state to effectively combat them all,” said Missoula Drug Force Commander, Sergeant, Edward McLean.
Numbers released at the state crime lab show statewide, it investigated more cases of meth than any other drug in 2012, with 650 meth cases analyzed, and marijuana following with 526.
“It’s big enough in the Missoula area, right now that it causes us a significant concern,” McLean said.
He said in the last few years police have seen the largest spike in meth since about 15 years ago, when it was a drug of choice in Missoula.
“When you take down a distributor someone always wants to step up and fill that niche,” McLean said.
He said the decline in meth use in the early 2000’s happened when labs were successfully shut down around the state, and prevention campaigns, like the Montana Meth Project, deterred future users.
“If people knew the exact effects it’s having on their body, and the danger they’re putting themselves in, we’d see decrease,” McLean said.
While police are focused on their investigative efforts, Griffith is trying to get a degree in social work from the University of Montana.
“College is something I never dreamed of doing, and now I have a plan for myself, it’s really exciting,” Griffith said.
She’s also heavily involved with the 12 Step program and is a speaker for the Montana Meth Project. She said it’s all to save people from addiction.
“Its so not worth it. That momentary good feeling is so not worth ruining your life for,” Griffith said.