Methamphetamine is the largest growing drug among users and law enforcement is using every tool they have to fight the war on drugs, but there's another side to this war, a side the reveals the tragedy and destruction caused by methamphetamine addiction.
Gina Prescott's a former drug addict that's now using her life experience for good. She recently spoke in Tallahassee to encourage lawmakers to increase funding to fight the meth epidemic in our state.
It's been two and a half years since Gina Prescott kicked a 16-year lifestyle of addiction.
Gina said, "Anything from cocaine, crack, marijuana, alcohol, crank, and ended up on crystal meth."
These days, instead of being on drugs, Prescott fights the war on drugs, working as counselor to recovering addicts at Holmes County's case coalition. She speaks to as many people as she can about the dangers of drug abuse.
"Knowing that I've been there, done that. A lot of people relate to that.”
She knows the horror of drugs abuse firsthand.
"I lived in filth, no running water, lived in cars."
The images Prescott describes of children with addicted parents are even more alarming.
"Eleven and 12-year-old girls hooked on methamphetamine or trading their bodies, themselves, because of their parents to support their drug habits."
As Prescott says, some parents go beyond prostituting their kids to feed their addictions.
"I've seen two and three-year-olds helping their parents do the steps that it takes to make crystal meth, pulling matches out of the matchbooks and being so proud because they did something to help their father."
The poisonous chemicals that go into making meth don't discriminate who they hurt.
"Chemical burns, I’ve seen children, small infants, you know, because they're so close to the cooking, not being fed, breastfed by mothers who are using dope.”
Holmes County Case Coalition is a 12-step faith based program geared towards helping recovering addicts. Prescott says the program is what keeps her going these days. She sees about 15 to 20 former addicts a week, some on court order and others voluntary.
Law enforcement officials say they shut down 332-meth labs statewide last year, compared to just 30 in 2000. Drug czar Jim McDonough says most meth labs in Florida are located here in the Panhandle and in rural central Florida.