The nation's "drug czar" visited Seattle today to launch a nine-state, $10 million anti-methamphetamine media blitz that highlights the...

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The nation’s “drug czar” visited Seattle today to launch a nine-state, $10 million anti-methamphetamine media blitz that highlights the drug’s dangers and promotes the benefits of treatment.

“We are trying to say, one, don’t start [using meth], and two, if you’re in trouble, get help,” said John Walters, the White House National Drug Control policy director.

Walters unveiled the media campaign during a news conference at the central Seattle Public Library. Ads began airing locally Sept. 4 and will run until March. Besides Washington, the ads will run in Oregon, California, Idaho, Alaska, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., who are both members of the House Meth Caucus, also took part in the news conference, as did Doug Allen, director of alcohol and substance abuse for the state Department of Social and Health Services.

Several former addicts from the Seattle area who are featured in the print ads, themed “Life after Meth,” also attended.

Drug counselors and health-care professionals welcomed the outreach effort, but said what they’d really like to see is more money not only to expand treatment and prevention programs, but also to help addicts and their families defray the many spillover costs of lengthy recovery programs.

“I understand the need for using the media to deliver a message,” said Johnny Ohta, a drug counselor who works with homeless youth at the Ryther Child Center in the University District and at the Orion Center downtown.

But, Ohta said, “$10 million sounds like a good amount of money to put into treatment.”

Allen said there are 581 certified meth-treatment programs in Washington state, but acknowledged “it is not a perfect system.”

Specifically, Allen said, “transportation, education, housing are all major barriers that have to be worked with” to get more people into recovery.

Walters said a major goal of the new ad campaign is to help more people understand that meth addiction is treatable.

“The biggest single obstacle is people believing treatment doesn’t work,” Walters said.

“I value optimism,” said Tony Radovich, a member of the King County HIV/AIDS Planning Council, “although I am critical at the same time.”

Radovich is concerned about the way meth addiction is contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the gay community, and expressed concern that the ad campaign focuses primarily on meth usage in rural populations.

“Within the city limits, meth impacts a whole different community,” Radovich said.

Reichert said he was glad to see meth getting a higher profile in the war on drugs.

“Years ago, our federal government was focused on marijuana, and not on meth,” Reichert said. “We’re now on the right track.”

David Bowermaster: 206-464-2724 or