Society

'Face Of Meth' Participants Share Stories Of Improvement 10 Years Later

| by Jonathan Wolfe

If you’ve spent much time on the internet over the last 10 years, you’re probably aware of the “Faces of Meth” campaign.

The campaign, initially launched by Multnomah County, Oregon sheriff’s deputy Bret King, featured shocking pictures of methamphetamine addicts before and after years of drug abuse. A “Faces of Meth” picture would typically feature two pictures: one from an addict’s early years of abuse and another taken several years later once the drug had taken a toll on the person’s body.

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Well, good news: several of the eight people who were featured in the campaign are in a much better place now than they were a few years back. The Oregonian has done extensive follow-up research with the participants and reported the news in a long-running series titled “Faces of Meth, 10 Years Later.”

One of the feel-good stories is Esther Allison, a 38-year-old woman. Though Allison was once a poster child for drug abuse, she is now sober and holding down a steady job as a manager at McDonald’s. She began using meth at age 12, she told Oregonian reporter Kasia Hall, and soon fueled her habit by working as a prostitute. All that has changed now.

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“I'm trying to be a good mom,” she says. “Now, I'm a manager at McDonald's. That means something to me.”

Another former addict, 49-year-old Glenn Lagrew, successfully kicked his habit and now holds down two jobs. He graduated from an education program earlier this year and hopes to one day work as a counselor.

“I want to make amends to the city and be a role model so my son,” he says.

James Hibbs is another success story. He started using meth at age 15. Though some people featured in the “Faces of Meth” program wish their face wasn’t circulated around the country as synonymous with drug use, Hibbs doesn’t mind. If he helped deter anyone from picking up the drug, he says, it's worth it.

“Even though I'm dumb enough to do it, if I can convince anybody else from doing it, that makes me feel better,” he says. “Not everybody has to be as dumb as I was.”

Sources: The Oregonian, MailOnline