Drug warning [Lewiston Tribune, Idaho]
(Lewiston Morning Tribune (ID) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 24--CULDESAC -- At 40 years old, Cyn Reneau had never even been drunk.
But reeling from the demise of her marriage and eager to please a new boyfriend, she tried methamphetamine -- just once.
"Just once" turned into 100 days of using and dealing, during which she was fired from her job, neglected her daughters, burned through at least $80,000 and permanently damaged her heart and brain.
"I wish I could say on day 100 I got smart," Reneau said as she spoke to students here Wednesday. "On day 100 I got arrested."
About 50 Culdesac students in seventh through 12th grades took in Reneau's bracing, sometimes graphic, story during a presentation at their school by the Idaho Meth Project, a drug-abuse prevention organization.
"It really surprised me that the person that was presenting was an ex-meth user," seventh-grader Jasmine Miller said. "It made it more clear."
Program coordinator Sophie Dresser encouraged Miller and her classmates to become Idaho Meth Project teen volunteers, echoing a message Reneau emphasized in her presentation: Peer pressure -- good or bad -- is a huge factor in drug use.
"In this day and age, it's not a matter of if we're going to encounter drugs, it's a matter of when," she said. "It's going to be somebody you know and somebody you respect (who offers)."
A Boise-based nonprofit organization founded in 2007, the Idaho Meth Project is paid for by private and corporate donations, annual fundraising events and support from the Millennium Fund, which disburses settlement money Idaho receives from tobacco companies.
Project representatives visit more than 50 Idaho schools each year.
Eighth-grader Isaiah Singer said he was surprised to learn "what happens when (meth) goes into your body -- how it blocks off your emotions."
With the aid of a short video projected on a white board, Reneau explained the science behind a meth "high." Brain receptors shut down during the process, she said, making it increasingly difficult for users to recapture the initial sense of euphoria.
"From the first time you use, you are physiologically changing your body," she said.
In her case, she explained, the damage seems to be permanent. The best guess, she said, is somewhere along the way she got a dose with too much of the drain-cleaner ingredient meth makers use to alter pH levels during the manufacturing process.
"In seven and a half years of being clean, I have not raised my voice in anger or shed a tear. There are no good days, there are no bad ones. I'm just here -- very much a female Spock," she said, referring to the character from the Star Trek television series who is incapable of experiencing human emotions.
Reneau's candid description of her meth use and the aftermath had the Culdesac students raising their hands with questions even before the presentation was over Wednesday afternoon.
Some questions were technical: What does meth look like? ("Very much like broken glass.") What does it smell like? ("A cat box that hasn't been changed in a really, really, really long time.")
Other questions were personal.
Asked what detoxing in jail was like, Reneau didn't hold back.
"I have given birth," she said. "And I would rather go through that every day for the rest of my life than go through one more detox."
No question went unanswered.
"I never cease to be amazed by what's important or powerful to them," Reneau said. "I've been doing this for six years, and almost every presentation I get a unique question."
Reneau began giving school presentations as a volunteer with the organization in 2008 and became an employee about a year and a half ago.
She and Dresser presented at schools in Kooskia, Grangeville and Riggins Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday morning they visited Orofino Junior-Senior High School before coming to Culdesac.
Today they'll speak at 9:22 a.m. and 12:24 p.m. at Prairie Junior-Senior High School in Cottonwood.
More information about the Idaho Meth Project is available on the group's website at www.methproject.org.
Stone may be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 848-2244.
(c)2013 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho)
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