August 18, 2008
The Ice Storm blog
Watch the program: Part 1 | Part 2

“You may find they want to sing for you.”

Those words from the director of Montana’s first ever rehabilitation prison for “meth” or crystal methamphetamine users could not really prepare me for the sound of 60 meth addicts, all dressed in prison issue sweat suits belting out, a rather forced version of “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are grey, you’ll never know dear, how much I love you, Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

This was my welcome to the Lewistown Treatment Centre. At the time its doors opened, it was an American first. Montana had decided the traditional response to drug users was having no impact and a specialist program was needed.

So two facilities for the treatment of meth addicts, one for men and another for women, were opened. Neither is called a prison, But no one is allowed out until there time is done. It’s a nine-month program.

I had travelled to Montana to see how the community was responding to what it called a "meth" epidemic and to see what impact it was having.

Driving across the state and through the many small towns in summer time, the only real indication that there was a problem came from billboards warning of the dangers of using the drug.

But it was meeting families who had lost children to the drug, or were fighting to save them that was the most telling about the addictive nature and chemical qualities of "meth" itself.

-- From Ginny Stein, SBS TV
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