DORIE TURNER,Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA — The Georgia Meth Project is launching a campaign to tackle the growing use of methamphetamine in Georgia, targeting teens who authorities say are becoming more likely to try the highly addictive drug.
The campaign will include sometimes-startling TV, radio, newspaper and Internet advertising, as well as graphic billboards scattered throughout the state, many featuring Georgia teen meth addicts talking about their experiences.
One of the billboards shows a teen on a ventilator in a hospital and states: "No one thinks they'll wake up here. Meth will change that." Another — which declares "No one thinks they'll try to tear their own skin off. Meth will change that." — shows a blood-spattered sink.
One radio ad has a 21-year-old girl named Brooke, who started using meth at 15, talking about watching her best friend overdose and being too high to help her.
"We've got to show the real dangers of meth use," Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said during a news conference Monday on the steps of the state Capitol. "We've got to stop this problem before it becomes an epidemic like it has in other states."
Baker, a Democrat running for governor, was joined by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican running for re-election.
Experts estimate meth abuse costs Georgia $1.3 billion annually in social services, health care, law enforcement and other expenses. Baker estimates 3,100 people are behind bars in Georgia because of meth charges, with another 9,100 on probation.
Isakson called meth an "unforgiving, relentless" drug that can destroy entire societies.
"Georgia's future is being robbed by methamphetamine," he said.
The Georgia Meth Project, which was started more than a year ago, is modeled after a similar program first launched in Montana in 2005, which has seen a 63 percent drop in meth addiction among teens over the last four years. Similar organizations also have begun in Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois and Wyoming since then.