Campaign aims to help people addicted and affected by methamphetamine

Ask Las Vegas Police Sgt. Erik Lloyd about the evil that meth does, and he immediately starts talking about the children.

They’re the ones taken away from parents who have been arrested for making, selling or using the drug.

They’re the ones thrust into foster care because the adults in their lives are serving meth-related prison terms.

They’re the victims of extreme neglect because their addicted mothers no longer feed or care for them.

“When people are on meth, they don’t care about their kids,” said Lloyd, who has worked narcotics for a decade. “When you’re high on meth, you aren’t taking care of yourself, let alone your kids.”

What he’s seen on the job is what prompted Lloyd to become involved with a landmark public education campaign that will air on local English-speaking television stations at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“Crystal Darkness,” a half-hour documentary about methamphetamine users in Nevada, details the devastating ripples sent out into the community by what Lloyd said is a growing problem for law enforcement.

“A sixteenth of an ounce of meth costs about $80 to $100,” Lloyd said. “Big-time users can use twice as much as that in a day. A lot of burglaries and robberies are the direct result of users wanting to be able to purchase these drugs.”

The documentary, which has already aired in Northern Nevada, will be available on channels 3, 5, 8, 10 and 13. Cox Cable channels 2, 4, 19, 21 and 96 also will air the show.

Spanish stations also will run a Spanish version of “Crystal Darkness” on Wednesday. Univision, Channel 15, will air the program at 6 p.m. Telemundo, Channel 39, will show the documentary at 6:30 p.m.

Clark County spokeswoman Jennifer Knight said that a call center is being set up to assist viewers who might want additional assistance after seeing “Crystal Darkness.

Operators can be reached at 211, and can provide individuals seeking help with information on rehabilitation programs. Parents also can obtain free at-home drug tests. The local campaign also offers handbooks with information on meth use.

The call center will be staffed with Spanish-speakers and English-speakers, Knight said. It will stay open until midnight after the documentary airs.

The resource line, which generally provides information on mental health and other issues, also can be called during daytime hours.

When the documentary was shown in Northern Nevada, Knight said, the Reno call center took about 600 calls.

“We expect about four times that,” Knight said.

The effort is a partnership between state and local politicians, law enforcement, community activists and churches. The film’s producer, Michael Reynolds of the Reno-based Global Studios, said the “Crystal Darkness” campaign would not have been possible without the cooperation of Nevada’s television outlets.

“Each general manager I went to had the same response after I explained the campaign,” Reynolds said. “They said: ‘Count us in.’ It was actually one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.”

Reynolds also serves as a board member for Northern Nevada’s Secret Witness program, a tip line for those with information on crimes or criminal suspects.

Because of meth’s direct and indirect relationship to a cross-section of criminal activity, Reynolds said, he began thinking about producing 30-second public service announcements on meth use and addiction.

“I kept hearing at all these meetings that meth use is spiraling out of control,” Reynolds said. “So I came up with an idea to slow it down. The first time I talked about it to a television station general manager in Washoe, he asked me if I’d ever thought about doing a 30-minute documentary.”

That, Reynolds said, was the birth of “Crystal Darkness,” a 2006 production made up of 26 individual stories from meth users in recovery.

The Spanish version has a different set of 25 interviews. The material is suitable for viewing by third-graders on up, Reynolds said. He encourages parents to watch the program with their children and discuss it afterwards.

“It’s not something you just plop the kids down in front of,” Reynolds said.

More about “Crystal Darkness” is available online at www.crystaldarkness.com.

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