The flood of methamphetamines into Montana communities has left law enforcement, the courts and social services strained. Prosecutors report drug cases have clogged district courts. Child protection case numbers have soared as parents addicted to the drug neglect or abuse their children. Families of addicts report few options for helping their loved ones kick the substance. The Montana Meth Effect is an effort to tell the complex web of stories about communities coping with widespread drug use.
The report, produced by students at the University of Montana School of Journalism, works to put a face on the new meth user base and explain the effects of an uptick in amphetamine use across the state. The staff is made up of audio, visual and web-focused students in a jointly convened class working to make audio stories consumable on social media. It is an experimental capstone class led by professors Jule and Lee Banville with support from the University of Montana Journalism School.
Rob, former addict
Produced by Meghan Bourassa | Photo by Tailyr Irvine
Meth is not a feeling I’ll ever forget, but it’s one I never want to do again.” Rob grew up part of a family involved in trafficking meth and other drugs from Mexico. He started doing meth when he was 19. When his son was born in 2000, he made a promise to never touch powders again.
Father of Addict
Produced by Aunica McCullough | Photo by Corey Hockett
"With having a child on drugs, especially meth, you have no control as a parent." This dad from the Bitterroot Valley of Montana has watched his daughter, now in her late 20s, go through changes he can't control because of her addiction.
Miranda Kirk, activist
Produced by Nora Saks | Photo by Nora Saks
“If you have somebody in your corner, that makes any kind of pain just a little mole hill instead of a mountain.” Miranda Kirk co-founded the the first peer-to-peer support system there and the idea’s spreading.
Produced by Matt Blois | Photo by Cal Reynolds
"We're kind of in a place where our hands are tied." Tracy Hellem is among a select few who've tried to figure out if there's a drug that can help people stop using meth.
Judge John Larson
Produced by Beau Baker | Photo by Cal Reynolds
John Larson established Montana's first juvenile drug treatment court in 1996. It combines addiction counseling, social work, urine-testing -- even pet therapy -- to make an impact on teens beyond sentencing.
Jessica Hofer, therapist
Produced by Maria Anderson | Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Treatment Center
Before she started running a horse therapy program, Jessica Hofer was an addict. She knew she needed prison-like treatment. Now she gets to see broken people respond in amazing ways when they're around horses.