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The changing face of meth

Agencies improvise to break treatment-and-release cycle — — —

A roller-coaster of methamphetamine abuse cost 33-year-old Zetta — — Martinez nearly everything, including her children. — — —

She sought but failed to break her drug habit — — in 1997 and 1998 and gave birth to a son who was severely disabled — — as the result of drug use during her pregnancy. —

"I chose drug addiction and alcohol addiction — — over (my kids)," she said. — —

Martinez managed to complete a residential treatment — — program and give birth to a healthy daughter in 1999. But she — — went back to using within three months once she started hanging — — out with old friends who also used meth. —

Her meth addiction reached its high point in 2001 — — when she tried to quit drinking, Martinez said. A year later, — — she voluntarily gave the state custody of her 8-year-old daughter, — — who was later adopted. Her 9-year-old daughter lives in an Eagle — — Point group home suffering from mental disabilities that can likely — — be attributed to her mother's meth use. —

The cycle of treatment and relapse particular — — to meth addicts like Martinez has ignited a local effort to revamp — — treatment practices, focusing on long-term care. Nearly 650 meth — — addicts sought publicly funded treatment in Jackson County over — — the past year. —

Experts are discovering that month-long programs — — requiring clients to attend treatment groups during the day just — — aren't working with meth addicts, said Rita Sullivan, director — — of Medford's OnTrack Inc. Most meth addicts undergo treatment — — between five and seven times, she added. —

"The compulsion to use is horrible," she said. — — —

In hopes of boosting grant receipts, OnTrack has — — redefined its treatment practices, detailing addicts' initial — — need for a supervised adjustment period before jumping into treatment, — — Sullivan said. Because of the severe physical and mental damage — — experienced by many meth addicts, a month-long stabilization period — — in a recovery center prepares them for the rigors of treatment. — — —

Once they enter treatment groups, it's just as — — important for meth addicts to get post-traumatic stress disorder — — therapy, continual psychiatric support and treatment for depression — — and anxiety caused by withdrawal from the drug. These are all — — strategies that are gradually becoming more common but should — — be compulsory, according to OnTrack's proposal. —

The agency also is touting the need for extending — — clients' active treatment phase to six or nine months instead — — of three to four months, Sullivan said. In addition, a complete — — treatment cycle - including after-care - should last two years — — instead of one, Sullivan said. —

"A program for 90 days ...," Martinez said. "For — — me it would never work." — —

Funding remains one of the agency's toughest barriers — — to more effective treatment, Sullivan said. As many as 85 percent — — of OnTrack's 850 active clients are covered by the Oregon Health — — Plan. But OnTrack's receipts from the state insurance program — — were cut in half this year following budget cuts, she said. —

OnTrack has continued to provide services to many — — clients who lost benefits by charging fees on a sliding scale, — — keeping the door open for clients like Martinez, who has been — — in the program since October and is seeking continued support. — — She's convinced that on this - her longest treatment run - she'll — — finally break free from meth. — —

"Something changed inside of me," Martinez said. — — "The kids that I gave up are slowly getting back in my life and — — that's ... because I'm clean and sober. — —

"I'm ready to do whatever it takes." * * * — —

Where to get help — —

24-hour crisis and referral line: 779-4357 — —

Rogue Valley Addictions Recovery Center: 779-1282 — —

Genesis Recovery Center: 608-4000 — —

Jackson County Health and Human Services: 776-7359 — —

Kolpia Counseling: 779-5866 or 482-1718 —

Narcotics Anonymous: 858-0555 — —

OnTrack Inc.: 772-1777 — —

Phoenix Counseling Center: 535-4133