Marvin Roberts sits with me on a bench outside Hunter Elementary, his old stomping grounds. He leans back, smiles warmly and speaks about his newfound calling. Wrongly accused of murder in 1997, Roberts and three others spent 18 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Released but denied compensation for his wrongful conviction Roberts worked odd jobs, “just trying to survive,” but he never really found happiness or fulfillment in the mundane.
His calling, well really more of a “passion” has been consuming much of his thoughts lately. While serving his time in numerous prisons Roberts saw the introduction of methamphetamine. He watched as the drug flew through the prison system unaware of the influx on the outside as well. After Roberts release he witnessed first-hand the damage meth has and is causing in his community. He sees friends, loved ones and his people addicted. Roberts has lost friends to suicide and overdose in this deadly epidemic. “This drug takes no prisoners,” said Roberts, “No community is immune.”
According to The Alaska State Troopers 2015 Annual Drug Report, “In July of 2006, pseudoephedrine regulations were adopted by the state of Alaska.” “Methamphetamine is most commonly smuggled into Alaska through parcel service providers or body carries. Methamphetamine abuse remains a significant issue within Alaska. Although the number of labs has remained low, it appears that use and abuse of the drug is prevalent.”
What concerns Roberts is the position many have taken on this highly addictive drug. It has become the “new normal,” he said, referencing how people have just grown to accept the induction of meth and meth users. This “normal” needs to change, said Roberts. Part of the problem is that the rate of addiction is so high and there is no system in place to aid those addicted. “We need to have a place where people can walk in and get help and we have the capabilities to help them,” said Roberts. Roberts also believes a key may lie in youth. “Teaching kids about the dangers of meth is essential,” said Roberts.
Roberts has spent much of the last month researching meth and has started taking classes to become a drug counselor. Among other things, Roberts hopes to interview x-addicts, who have managed to kick the drug. More specifically those who were once addicted and have now been clean for over a two-year period. “This 2-year marker is key in an addict’s chances of kicking the drug,” said Roberts. Roberts believes that by speaking with former addicts he may understand how this addiction can take ahold and how to break the dependence.
According to the Banyan Treatment Center (Specialists in Substance Addiction Treatment Programs) there is a way to help with meth addiction. “A good start is being aware of the dangers of meth use and the high addiction levels that follow. Very few people try out meth once and then never use it again. Typically, they try it a second time and then a third time and, before they know it, they’re addicted.
Addiction creeps up on you gradually. Most addicts don’t even realize it’s happening at first. Staying aware of the dangers of meth is half of the battle. Once you see the signs of addiction in yourself or a loved one, you can go to the next step—rehab.”
Roberts hopes to change the face of meth to one of hope and recovery. Roberts would like to tell those afflicted with this addiction that, “I know you are hurting and your addiction is taking over you but help is coming, don’t give up on life.” For more information on how you can support Roberts fight against meth contact firstname.lastname@example.org.