- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Top officials from the Bush administration yesterday announced grants for treatment of methamphetamine addiction, rebutting criticism that the president was focusing mainly on prevention.

“This war has to be strategically fought,” Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt said at the Davidson County Drug Court and Treatment Center, the only drug court in the nation with a treatment and residential facility attached.

“It’s about prevention, it’s about treatment and strong enforcement,” said Mr. Leavitt, who joined Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and drug czar John P. Walters in announcing the initiative.

The initiative includes $16.2 million over three years for 11 substance abuse and mental health services grants that focus on treatment of meth addiction, including $1.5 million over three years to the Tennessee Department of Health to target abuse of meth and other emerging drugs in six rural counties.

Meth, an addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system, usually is produced in clandestine labs using relatively inexpensive over-the-counter cold tablets and common household chemicals.

Last year, Tennessee law-enforcement authorities seized 1,574 labs across the state — the second-highest lab seizure rate in the nation, behind Missouri.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, set up a task force to study meth abuse and signed legislation that beefed up law enforcement and restricted sales of cold medicine tablets with pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making meth.

Numbers released last month by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration show meth lab seizures across Tennessee have decreased since the law took effect this spring.

Meth use began in California, spread to rural areas in the West, Midwest and Southeast and reportedly is growing in the nation’s urban areas.

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