SPRINGFIELD – As part of the state’s ongoing effort to combat one of the fastest-growing and most dangerous illegal drug trades in Illinois, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed October 1 Methamphetamine Awareness Day in Illinois. The proclamation is in accordance with House Resolution 139, which provides that the Illinois State Police, along with the State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Public Health, and local law enforcement agencies and school districts, will promote an educational campaign warning of the dire consequences of meth use and production.
“Methamphetamine production and the loss of life because of this addiction must be put to an end. By proclaiming October 1 as Methamphetamine Awareness Day, I am confident we can educate individuals on the traumatic consequences that go along with its use,” said Governor Blagojevich. “Far too many families have been devastated by its addiction and too many hopeful futures have been lost.”
Awareness efforts will build on the success of the Blagojevich Administration’s Meth Response Teams (MRTs). These dedicated Illinois State Police (ISP) teams consist of specially trained officers who investigate, seize, and dismantle illegal laboratories throughout the state. The MRTs not only respond to reports of meth use and manufacture, but also perform investigations and develop leads which identify clandestine methamphetamine laboratory operations.
Since the inception of MRTs, the number of meth lab seizures has declined significantly. In 2005, there were 973 seizures; 786 labs were seized in 2006; and in 2007, there were 446 labs seized. So far in 2008, 244 labs have been seized.
“While I am pleased with the significant reduction in the number of meth labs, law enforcement must remain diligent in our efforts to not only enforce the laws against meth, but to continue our educational efforts,” said ISP Director Larry G. Trent. “Governor Blagojevich and the legislature have been very supportive of our requests to toughen the laws and penalties for those convicted of manufacturing, selling, or possessing meth.”
The production of methamphetamine throughout Illinois has increased the burden on local and state law enforcement, public health, and local school districts, particularly in central and southern Illinois. In addition to the typical costs faced by law enforcement when addressing a particular crime, methamphetamine production in clandestine laboratories is generating a myriad of costs not often associated with illicit substances, including additional training and clean-up costs.
“Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system and is derived from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine commonly used on cold medicines. Chronic use of meth can lead to psychotic behavior, hallucinations and extremely violent behavior,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health Director. “It is imperative we raise awareness of methamphetamine to eliminate these devastating health effects and the toll it takes on our communities.”
While the impact of the methamphetamine response teams has created a dramatic decrease of illegal laboratories in Illinois, there is still more to be done. Illinois law enforcement, treatment facilities, court systems, and school districts should no longer have to deal with the harmful devastation caused by the use and manufacture of methamphetamine.
“Kids have a hard enough time dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of growing up, they don't need the emotional trauma and physical harm methamphetamine can cause them and their families,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Schools need to communicate the dangers of methamphetamines and other drugs with both students and parents as a prevention strategy.”
The text of the Governor’s Proclamation is as follows:
WHEREAS, the State of Illinois recognizes that methamphetamine is fundamentally different from other drugs regulated by the Illinois Controlled Substances Act because the harms relating to methamphetamine stem not only from the distribution and use of the drug, but also from the manufacture of the drug in this State; and
WHEREAS, methamphetamine is not only distributed and used but also manufactured in Illinois; the manufacture of methamphetamine is extremely and uniquely harmful, and the exposure to the manufacturing of methamphetamine has resulted in deaths or serious disabilities to many persons exposed to the manufacturing process; and
WHEREAS, the manufacture and use of methamphetamine is a problem that affects the entire State, especially in rural areas and in small towns; and
WHEREAS, a statewide awareness campaign alerting the public to the dangers of methamphetamine may help to reduce the illegal manufacture, distribution, and use of this substance and result in increased arrests and prosecutions of methamphetamine violators:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim October 1, 2008 as METHAMPHETAMINE AWARENESS DAY in Illinois, and encourage the Department of State Police, the Department of Public Health, local law enforcement agencies, the State Board of Education, and local school districts to promote an educational campaign on that day warning the population of this State of the dangers of methamphetamine manufacture and use.