by: Capella Tucker, November 30, 2006 5:11:00 am
43 year old Joby Erickson knows he should be dead.
"I've done enough crystal meth to kill a small nation and I know it."
Erickson started abusing alcohol at 15. He abused and dealt drugs while in the military. He turned to meth while holding a job working with computers.
"I am one of the scariest drug addicts because of the fact that what I am known as known is a functioning drug addict alcoholic."
Erickson knows first hand what drugs, in particular meth, does to a body.
"The brain, yeah, it messes up your brain it messes up your brain pretty bad. I know that my brain don't work normally and I know it. But I don't kid myself on it and I have found different ways of dealing with it."
Erickson has been sober 12 years. He's now married, has a two year old son and a baby girl on the way. But he knows he's still paying the price for having been a drug addict.
"Hopefully I haven't done enough drugs to deteriorate my body so that when my kid is 14 or 15 I can go out and play baseball with him."
Erickson is now a counselor and despite everything he's been through, what he's seeing today scares him.
"What's sad is that when I first started counseling 10 years ago the average age kid that I was seeing was 16 1/2 almost 17. The average age kid that I'm seeing now is 14. That means they started getting high at eleven."
Erickson says the drug of choice now is meth. It's been a growing problem across the country. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge James Craig says technology has improved their efforts to slow the production of meth.
"We've gotten better at cleaning them up for example 10 years ago cleaning up a lab would be $17,000. Now it runs about $2,000-3,000 changes in technology have really helped us in terms of cleaning and tracking where the labs are."
One regulatory change limited the amount of pseudo ephedrine that could be sold over the counter in cold medicine. It's one of the ingredients in meth. Craig says the regulation made a difference.
"There's a nine gram limit of pseudo ephedrine, which has dramatically reduced the number of small toxic labs in Texas. Texas just did it last year and we have seen a huge drop in the small toxic labs in Texas."
But Craig does add meth production has just moved south of the border. He says law enforcement continue to combat the supply, but the hope is to reduce the demand for the highly addictive drug through education. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.