Meth In The 417


Missouri Has Been The On-And-Off Methamphetamine Capital Of The United States For 19 years.

Bryan DiSylvester, head of the narcotics unit and a sergeant with the Springfield Police Department, said that this is where the meth lab epidemic began and it has been a leading manufacturer ever since.

“Meth is the drug causing the most problems in Springfield,” he said, “and it is the biggest hazard that we face.”

Cindy Rushefsky is both a city council member for the city of Springfield and a community educator on methamphetamines.  She is extremely passionate about the issue of meth and its presence in the Springfield community.

Springfield is a great place to live,” she said.  “but instead of being known for our parks, our volunteerism or our can-do attitude, we are known for child abuse and for being the meth capital of the world.”

Springfield is facing an ordinance to require a prescription to buy any product that contains pseudoephedrine.  The city council voted 5-4 to postpone a vote on the proposal until June of 2014.  Rushefsky believes that this is the council’s way of avoiding the issue.

A major roadblock with the ordinance is lobbying by pharmaceutical companies in Springfield and the U.S., according to Rushefsky.

“It floors me that something so simple and needed is so difficult, and it is all because somebody wants money in their pockets,” Rushefsky said.

Meth is not just an issue that affects drug users and the police, it is a community-wide problem.

“Some people say ‘I don’t take meth, I don’t hang out with people who do meth, it’s not my problem,’” Rushefsky said, “But people are affected by this and they don’t even know it.”

People are dying because of meth lab related explosions and fires, Rushefsky said.

People are losing their homes and these are people who don’t take meth and don’t know people who do either but just happen to live in the area of a meth cook and are unaware until it is too late.

Not passing an ordinance because it may be an inconvenience for those who have a cold or other issues, is not a good enough excuse, she said.

Rushefsky was once asked to come to a school to educate elementary students about meth labs because the students. This is because  children stumbled upon a bottle of meth chemicals on their playground, not knowing how dangerous that bottle really was.

Often meth cooks need to make meth quickly, and they use what is called the “shake-and-bake” method, according to DiSylvester.

It is an extremely dangerous process and the lives of those children were at serious risk, he said.

With the safety of the community in mind, law enforcement is also very much in favor of requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine.

There is no substitute for pseudoephedrine when manufacturing meth, and limiting the ability to obtain pseudoephedrine should be a priority for not only Springfield but the state of Missouri, Disylvester said.

Doing so could substantially decrease the amount of meth labs that grace the Show-Me state.

The state of Oregon has seen a 98% decrease in meth busts since passing a statewide ordinance in 2005 requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine, showing the effectiveness of such an ordinance.

Springfield is dealing with the issue of meth cooks from other cities who have already adopted prescription requirements — like Branson and Joplin— and they are moving into the Springfield area because of its lack of requirements on the drug, according to Disylvester.

“If we really want to get serious about Southwest Missouri not being the meth capital, then we have to pass this,” Disylvester said.

Even if the ordinance is passed, meth will continue to enter Springfield through other means —imported drugs from Mexico— but it would at least significantly decrease the meth labs that cause issues, issues like school children stumbling upon dangerous meth paraphernalia, he said.

Darla Evans, a Springfield resident and former meth user, dealer and manufacturer, had a different take on how to help the meth problem in Missouri.

She began using drugs at the age of 16 with her father. She started with marijuana but as her addiction progressed she began using and manufacturing meth

At the age of 18, Evans was charged with attempt to manufacture methamphetamines when she was in possession of 2,800 pseudoephedrine pills.

It was not until after Evans spent a month in jail that she found God and decided that she wanted to be clean.  While in jail, she requested to go into rehab and was transferred to the Simmering Center, a facility part of Clarity Recovery and Wellness, and underwent treatment for 28 days.

Evans has almost 7 years of sobriety to date and is currently a counselor at Clarity Recovery and Wellness. She offered a very different perspective on how to attempt a fix with the meth problem.

Evans said that this ordinance will not solve the meth problem in this area but it could be just one step.

As a former user and manufacturer of meth, Evans said that if a user wants drugs they will find a way no matter what. If you want to make a difference, you have to reach out to the actual people.

“People will pay people that have prescriptions for it, or run it illegally from Mexico,” she said. “We need to put prayer back in school and work with children when they are small and encourage them in a more loving way.”

DiSylvester, Rushefsky and Evans all agree, however, something has to be done and doing nothing is not the right plan of action for Springfield.



Brian DiSylvester, sergeant for Springfield Police Department

Cindy Rushefsky, city council member

Darla Evans, counselor and former meth user

Contributions by Morgan Fisher, Makenzi Adams, Amber Duran