SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - Meth is a problem that’s affecting not only Sarasota County, but all throughout the U.S.
“For the last 10 years, we’ve seen significant crimes arise related to pharmaceutical drugs, heroin, Fentanyl, and methamphetamine,” Sheriff Tom Knight said.
Knight announced last week, after more than six months of investigation, 16 people were arrested in "Operation Ice Mama." They seized over half a pound of meth, two guns and other illegal drugs. The reemergence of meth in the county is causing a big problem.
"Why we see a reemergence of meth? And the simple fact is the cost, the price of the meth has gone down," said Knight.
He says in 2017, 48 people died with meth in their system.
"It may start as a choice, but once the disease is activated, there's no really choice in the matter," said P.J. Brooks, Vice President of Outpatient and Youth Services at First Step in Sarasota.
He agrees that meth is showing up at a larger scale in the area.
"We have a much larger population who are risking using it, it's because it's accessible," he said.
Because of this, he's working tirelessly to help others struggling with addiction.
"Whatever is available, someone is going to use and if it's cheap and readily accessible, and someone's disease of addiction is active, they're going to take the path of least resistance. So if meth is the one that's really available. Guess what's going to happen? Though they might be using opioids they might easily switch to meth," he said.
Operations like "Ice Mama" will continue to get drugs off the streets.
“We’ll continue to get these dealers off the streets with the hopes to get the addicts off the streets too and healthy, and make them back to productive citizens,” said Knight. “When you go into our jails, you see the addicts in the recovery program, and we’re trying to get them healthy. That’s what continue to drive us to find the means to end it."