It has been considered "the world's most dangerous drug." You can snort it, smoke it, shoot it or swallow it. Meth, or methamphetamine, destroys the body and the mind at such a rapid pace, the devastating affects of meth reaches far beyond just the user.
"It's probably the worst epidemic the United States has ever seen," said Merkel Police Chief, Bob Jones.
Jones says that over 75% of crime in Merkel is meth related. Meth is cheaper and 3.5 times more powerful than cocaine, local authorities say meth use has exploded over the last ten years.
"I think it's everywhere but I think people try to come into little towns and hide, they think they're not seen as much because we got less law enforcement," added Jones.
Daphne King is one of those people who moved to a rural area from the Metroplex to continue using meth. The first time King was introduced to the drug she was a college student, having just gotten out of the Army and lost her husband, King says she was no stranger to the latest party drug.
"A guy just came up and said 'This will help you with your studies and help you with your job,' I went to the bathroom and he showed me how to do it and it just took off from there," said King.
King says she remembers feeling strong and energetic when she took meth. Users say one hit can keep a person high for 6-12 hours.
"I felt invincible I had all this energy to come and go and do as I pleased, God I could go for days at a time..." said King.
The longest King ever stayed up was 17 days straight, barely eating and forgetting important plans with family-even holidays.
"To see my Mother and my Dad cry it just made me want to get clean that much more, just to get to know my family again I had missed so much," said King.
It took King hitting rock bottom, possibly even facing time behind bars, before she realized her crystal habit had to end forever.
"(I faced) losing everything that I had worked for, losing my family, and looking at losing my freedom," said King.
King found a rehab program in Abilene that helped her change her life around. She considers herself lucky that after all her years of meth use, she didn't suffer from what is commonly known as "meth mouth." Tooth and gum decay that happens when users don't drink enough fluids or brush their teeth.
Sgt. Craig Jordan with Abilene Police says unfortunately King's story is not uncommon. Recently local law enforcement have watched meth become a steadily growing problem since it's easily accessible and can be made at home.
"It definitely is a cancer and you just do the best that you can to target the people that are making it and bringing it in and then the others that are using-target them and try to get them the help they need to get off of it," said Sgt. Craig Jordan.
It appears meth has sunk its teeth into Merkel and doesn't seem to be letting go.
"Seems like you get one and you put them away-we got some that are in jail now, but then it seems like another one pops up you know?" said Chief Jones.
Fortunately King has freed herself from meth's grip. She's a survivor of addiction but says she still suffers from internal damage left over.
"I didn't live life before I partied-ya know I'm living life now," added King.
King was able to successfully finish rehab through Serenity House in Abilene. She now works there and says her own experiences with addiction have helped her reach out to others trying to get off meth.
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