Stop Meth Now: Group heads to Kern River Valley to curb use

Stop Meth Now: Group heads to Kern River Valley to curb use »Play Video
Jason Duthridge, a recovering methamphetamine addict, says Monday, June 2, 2014, that it took the pleas of his children to finally make the choice to quit. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Methamphetamine is an ongoing problem Kern County is trying to end, and Jason Duthridge knows this problem all too well.

"Meth is a drug that if you try it once, you're hooked," Duthridge said. "It's feeling like you never have before. But in reality, it takes everything from you."

Duthridge lives in the Kern River Valley, one of the county's most picturesque communities now plagued with a growing meth problem.

"There ain't nothing up here but the park, this baseball field, and bicycles and video games. What happens after that?" Duthridge said. "If they want to put a stop to it, they need to start with the kids first. Give them something look forward to."

Duthridge said he has been clean for six months, while many in his community continue to use the highly addictive drug.

In response, a county-wide effort to curb methamphetamine use paid a visit to the Kern River Valley on Monday to continue raising awareness for its cause.

Kern Stop Meth Now, which began in 2008, takes a step-by-step approach in how it handles raising awareness in each community.
 
"In the Kern River Valley, we're taking a business approach," said Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason. "We're going to go knock on doors. We're going to walk the streets of Lake Isabella."
 
And walk the streets the group did, with more than 30 volunteers stopping by about 70 businesses to inform them on the dangers of meth use and invite the community to an informational forum.
 
The volunteers talked to some business owners who say they have experienced the growing meth problem first-hand.
 
"We see some of the customers come in, and they're on drugs, you can tell," said Wes, the owner of one automotive business.
 
Another automotive business owner said she was the victim of theft from one of her customers.
 
"People broke into my truck because they were addicted to meth, went in my truck, stole my CDs and my wallet while I was working on their car," the woman said.
 
Stop Meth Now says nearly 40 percent of prosecuted felonies in Kern County include methamphetamine offenses.
 
Duthridge, who said he never stole the money he used to buy his drugs with, said it took something bigger than him to finally choose to quit.
 
"Christmas morning, I had my kids tell me they didn't want Santa Claus, they wanted dad," Duthridge said. "They told me dad, if you ever do it again, we won't want nothing to do with you. So being in this community, you know, with the right people. They've guided me the right way."