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Howard Swint: Meth column uses ‘terribly flawed’ logic

The usual logic and reason that Don Surber employs in his well-researched columns was noticeably absent in his recent "Meth battle is a political diversion."

While it's not unusual for Surber to explain away West Virginia's social and economic ills through the broad brush of Democratic Party control, his statement that "Meth diverts attention from reality, and so many Democrats embrace it" was just the beginning of a terribly flawed argument.

Surber uses the specious measure of overdose deaths due to meth (44 out of 4,793 from 2001 to 2012), to dismiss meth as "... 1 percent of the problem" but "99 percent of the state's focus on drugs."

But overdose deaths are but a fraction of the societal costs that the meth epidemic has wrought in our communities.

It could be argued that just the shifting of health care costs alone to the general public, government programs and the state's hospitals dwarf the impact to our economy than all other drugs combined.

Then we need to account for the costs of law enforcement, adjudication, corrections and recidivism rates on the state's budget as well as the devastating opportunity costs forgone through lost productivity by users as well as their families and communities.

Inexplicably Surber further steps in it when he states that the reason meth is 99 percent of the focus but only 1 percent of the problem is "because the trail of the abuse of Valium or Xanax winds through South Hills, while the public associates crystal meth with trailer parks."

What exactly this means is unclear — and on a number of levels.

Is the case being made that the residents of South Hills effectively control how the various media report drug-related crimes throughout the state?

Or that prescription drug abuse associated with specifically Valium or Xanax by the residents of South Hills has that effect?

Or that the "trail of the abuse" of these drugs is so widespread that there is a Valium or Xanax drug epidemic in South Hills?

It would be interesting to look at the dispensing and arrest data associated with these two prescription drugs to substantiate the claim.

And as interesting as the conspiratorial elements associated with a media cover-up of drug activity in South Hills are to consider, recent stories focusing on the Loudon Heights district of South Hills effectively debunk the presence of some kind of

media veil.

One such story is the tragic case of a meth lab at a home within eye shot of multimillion dollar properties and a mile of the residences of former West Virginia governors and their families.

This case was reported with the photos of the alleged users along with chilling details of how their children were exposed to the meth-making chemicals and paraphernalia.

The plywood covered doors and windows of their home stand as stark testimony of multiple lives shattered within just one family by meth abuse and an epidemic that is anything but confined to trailer parks and low-income neighborhoods.

The bottom line is that our lawmakers are just when they consider every single avenue to stem the abuse of not only meth but all prescription drugs in West Virginia through the one legal bottleneck we have — the drug store.

Not to mention the ongoing battle to stem the corrupting influence of Big Pharma on our lawmaking process and society as a whole.


Swint is a commercial real estate broker in Charleston.



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