Meth awareness meeting draws 200 people; Eureka gathering brainstorms community response to addiction woes

A standing-room only crowd of 200 filled the Redwood Acres Turf Club in Eureka to capacity on Thursday to discuss Humboldt County's methamphetamine problem.

"This is an inspired experiment," said Dr. Michael Fratkin of St. Joseph Hospital. "Our goal is to translate a social media catharsis into a flesh and blood structure for ongoing community action. Whatever happens from this point forward is because you do it. This is a do-ocracy."

Politicians, attorneys, law enforcement, educators, clergy, health providers and concerned community members divided into small groups to discuss topics from prevention to public awareness to law enforcement.

Ideas included gathering speakers, compiling a list of resources, identifying what's happening at the school level and finding more funding for treatment.

Thursday's session stemmed from the Facebook group, "Humboldt Meth Abuse Awareness Project," which was formed for people who want to help solve the problem.

People attended the forum for a variety of reasons. Some are recovered addicts, others have family members addicted to the drug, but all seemed to want to make the places they live and work safer and healthier.

"I'm on the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District Board of Directors, and our vision is to become the healthiest community possible, and addressing meth problems in our community is going to be an essential part of doing that," Barbara Truitt said.

Eureka resident Rose Broussard said she came because she is very interested in talking about treatment for those in jail.

"It was amazing," Broussard said. "It was really amazing. Far more people turned out than I would have imagined."

The individual groups will decide how they want to proceed from here, and if and when they want to meet again.

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or lrodriguez@times-standard.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.

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