Experts Grapple with Meth Problem at Seminar

Santa-Cruz-Sentinel_logoExperts Grapple with Meth Problem at Seminar

March 04, 2006 

Some 450 public workers on the front line of Santa Cruz’s speed problem filled Cocoanut Grove at the Methamphetamine Epidemic in America seminar Friday.  Keynote speaker Richard Rawson, associate director of UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, outlined the health and social problems of a drug that’s “exploded” in use in the last five years.  Every day, Santa Cruz County will see a crime related to methamphetamine addiction, said Lt. Rudy Escalante of the Santa Cruz Police Department.  Friday’s panel discussion was loaded with community leaders, underscoring the prevalence of the drug and its far-reaching effects.  The afternoon session was this year’s Nadherny-Calciano Seminar, an annual event that examines issues for youth 15 to 25.  Previous years have addressed signs and symptoms of suicide and effects of violence in schools.


The event grew from local resident and community activist Linda Calciano’s wish to honor the memory of her son, Jon E. Nadherny, who killed himself in 1995 at 23, months after graduating from UC Davis.  “It gives a real sense of purpose to Jon’s life,” said Joshua Nadherny-Calciano of his brother.


The methamphetamine issue is particularly pressing now because of its popularity in Santa Cruz and its effects on community services.  With a suicide, “you lose someone you love,” said Anastasia Calciano, who was four when her brother died. “When someone is on meth, you lose them, too.” “Meth is a new thing,” said Santa Cruz resident Ida Leong, a private practitioner who attended the seminar. “I finished my residency 27 years ago,” when coke and marijuana were common, she said. Her first methamphetamine addict walked into her office last year. “It was my first rude awakening.”  Friday’s panel of experts included Max Camarillo, director of counseling and psychological services at UC Santa Cruz; Lt. Rudy Escalante; Terry Lapid, medical director of the Dominican Hospital Emergency Services; David Lo, psychiatric medical director of Santa Cruz County Mental Health; and Bill Manov, the program chief of Santa Cruz County Substance Abuse Services.