Dying for Crystal
02/02/2004 AT 12:00 PM EST
Indeed, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, what's happening in Jackson County is happening in hundreds of rural communities from Florida to the Rockies. And what's happening in Jackson – a 630-square-mile area with a population of 18,000 – is eye-popping: Bishop has had to arrest friends and has seen one of his own family members busted. On one recent day, of the 44 prisoners housed in his jail, 30 were there on meth-related charges. Staffers at a center for drug-addicted mothers in central Arkansas report that before 2000, less than 4 percent of their patients were on meth; now more than half of them are. At a time when crime is falling in many places around the country, over the past 10 years felonies are up 33 percent in the area encompassing Jackson County. Even more alarming is that meth use seems to be spreading throughout the nation. Although it has been around for decades, and was long considered the drug of choice for poor rural whites, it has now "invaded all classes of society," says Arkansas Republican Rep. John Boozman. "Doctors, lawyers and professionals are just as affected. It's as addictive a drug as anything out there."