For every $1 spent on methamphetamine, it costs communities $7.46 in lost productivity and crime, according to information shared Tuesday night at a substance use forum.
RonSonlyn Clark, senior director of substance use and prevention services at RiverValley Behavioral Health, took the math further.
Clark told the audience the average addict uses $160 worth of meth a week, which equates to a $1,194 weekly financial burden on the community.
That adds up to $62,067 a year — per addict.
Over a 10-year period, the price tag comes to $620,067, Clark said.
None of that counts the personal cost for addicts, who, on average, die 20 years sooner than their peers.
"The cost of meth is never what you pay the dope man. It is what it costs you when it is all said and done. It costs everything," Clark said.
The Alliance for a Drug-Free Owensboro and Daviess County hosted Tuesday night's forum titled "Meth Crisis in Our Community" at SS. Joseph & Paul Catholic Church parish hall. Up to 100 people attended.
Forum panelists were Sgt. Michael Nichols, Owensboro Police Department supervisor of the Street Crimes Unit; Danielle Thurman, peer recovery support specialist; Daviess County District Judge Lisa Jones and Clark.
Owensboro City Commissioner Larry Conder sponsored the seminar.
"(Meth) is an issue that affects almost everyone," Conder told the crowd. "It truly makes a difference that you are here and you care."
Nichols provided information to prove Owensboro's drug of choice is meth and not opioids.
OPD has seized more than 18 pounds of meth to date, he said. By comparison, the department has seized only 35 grams of heroin and 317 hydro/oxycodone pills.
"We are at about 100 undercover (meth) buys this year alone," Nichols said.
He showed a map pinpointing opiate drug arrests in Owensboro's city limits. The map had few markers.
By comparison, the map of meth arrests was full of dots, especially in some neighborhoods. The West Fifth Street area is among the city's worst, Nichols said.
"There's not a section of Owensboro that is devoid of this problem," he said. " ... Meth is one demon out of all of them that shows no mercy. It doesn't care if you are white or black. It doesn't care if you are 7 or 80. Once it's got you, it's got you."
Thurman shared details of her decline into substance use.
She told the crowd she always felt out of place as a child. She had few friends outside of cousins because she never felt accepted.
At age 14, she started using marijuana.
When Thurman was 16, her grandmother died. "It was a struggle to cope with the pain, and marijuana wasn't helping ... ," she said.
She started using prescription drugs and meth about a year later.
"This went on for a total of nine years, and by that time, I was a mother of four, and my addiction had progressed enough to using every day. Smoking wasn't doing it anymore. I started using a needle and literally fell in love all over again with this drug," Thurman said.
After three years of injecting meth, she lost her job, home and kids.
An arrest on a forged instrument charge changed her life. She was incarcerated, which forced her to be drug-free for six months.
She was released to the Daviess County Drug Court program in early 2015 and enrolled in a 30-day addiction treatment center. Thurman has been sober since January 2015.
"I am living proof we do recover," she told the crowd.
Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, email@example.com