The use and manufacture of methamphetamine appears to be on the rise once again in Sampson County, with yet another clandestine lab discovered and more arrests made.
It’s a sad testament to the addictions so many people have both here in Sampson County and across the state, and a loud wake-up call to the problems that continue to exist, problems that might begin with a drug habit but usually end with far greater crimes, like burglaries, home invasions, and even murder, taking place.
Addictions first turn solid citizens into whimpering babies, searching hungrily for their drug of choice. And when money becomes an issue, as it always does, then addicts turn from whimpering babies into cold-blooded criminals willing to do whatever it takes to score a dose of meth, a snort of cocaine, a bottle of prescription pills or a needle filled with heroin.
While it might be easier to stick our heads in the sand and pretend the rise in meth use is someone else’s problem, nothing could be farther from the truth. Meth problems, like opiod abuse and other drug problems, is the albatross around our collective necks. And we should, at the very least, be aware of their existence.
All it takes is reading the newspaper to see the problems that exist.
Take meth use for example. Time after time when we pick up reports from the police and sheriff’s departments — and when you pick up our paper — among the stack is at least, usually more, arrests tied to drugs. And many times, the drug of choice is methamphetamine.
That alone leads us to believe that meth’s popularity is returning and with it those who are happy to meet the growing demand.
The good news is law enforcement officers are both aware of the problem and on top of it. And, in many cases, residents are remaining vigilant eyes and ears for their neighborhoods, reporting suspicious activity when they see it.
We hope that continues. As Sheriff Jimmy Thornton has repeatedly said, law enforcement officers cannot win the drug war alone. There are no crystal balls. Finding meth labs takes a watchful community and diligent investigative work, a team approach that has worked year after year here in Sampson.
While the reality of drug abuse is disturbing, the blessing is that labs are being dismantled and individuals taken into custody, now charged with plying a trade we must continue to tamp down at every turn.
Realistically we know that waging a war on drugs isn’t going to stop them overnight, but if drug dealers and users know that officers — and law-abiding citizens — are going to remain vigilant in their watch, the likelihood of them continuing is far less.
No question, meth use, and perhaps other drugs as well, is on the rise, but so is enforcement. And we believe strong law enforcement will tip the scales in this community’s favor.