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Voice of America: Meth a crisis in Indian Country

"U.S. law enforcement considers methamphetamine the nation's number one drug problem. More than 12 million Americans have tried meth and 1.5 million are regular users. American Indian leaders say their communities have been especially hard hit by meth addiction.

"My people are in pain and are suffering from meth," Kathleen Wesley-Kitcheyan told the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The chairwoman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, a community of 13,000 in Arizona said methamphetamine is "shattering families, endangering children and threatening the tribe's spiritual and cultural lives." It was impossible for her to get through her testimony without breaking into tears.

She told of babies born addicted to meth: one with a deformed heart and congenital health problems, another "with legs that are numb and can never be used."

"At the end of '05," Wesley-Kitcheyan said, "a nine-year-old meth user was brought to the San Carlos hospital with hallucinations and violent behavior. This is the youngest user that we have found, but we are concerned that kids even younger are using meth."

In her testimony, Wesley-Kitcheyan also told of a meth-addicted mother who stabbed her child to death, because she thought he was the devil; and a young man who tried to commit suicide by stabbing himself.

He was not the only one. On the San Carlos Reservation, where there were 101 suicide attempts in 2004, eight of the ten individuals who most recently attempted suicide were using meth."

Get the Story:
American Indian Communities Face Meth Crisis (Voice of America 4/11)

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