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PORTERDALE, Ga. — Destiny Gee is hoping the inaugural Freedom Fest she has organized this weekend will make a strong case against using a highly addictive and illegal drug that could end up consuming the user’s life.
Gee, a Covington resident, operates a nonprofit called March Against Meth that will host the inaugural Freedom Fest Saturday, Sept. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Porter Memorial Gym at 2201 Main St. in Porterdale.
The free event is scheduled to feature three guest speakers as well as live musical performances by Primo and East Rich; and testimonies by others.
One of the scheduled speakers, Veronica Reid, said she plans to tell attendees about her experience with the drug — including turning her life around in 2019 after 18 years as a meth addict.
“If I could reach one family and give them hope it will be worth it,” she said.
Gee, 27, is a single mom and an active member of Living Way World Church in Covington.
She also openly admits to overcoming meth and pill addictions in her late teens in 2013.
All who are scheduled to speak or perform have either overcome addictions or are working to gain “freedom” from them, Gee said.
“Each person comes from a different perspective on it,” Gee said. “I want to inspire (attendees) to keep going and go in the right direction.”
Reid began using meth at age 17 while living in Newton County because many of her friends were doing it and it was readily available, she said.
She has not used methamphetamine for more than three years and now works for a local packaging company.
“We are breaking free one at a time so the next generation won’t have to go through what we did,” Reid said.
The Georgia Meth Project reports on its website that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists Atlanta as a strategic hub for methamphetamine and other drug trafficking by Mexican drug cartels.
It states that methamphetamine abuse costs Georgia an estimated $1.3 billion annually, including expenses related to law enforcement, family and social services, treatment, and lost productivity[.
Many Georgia counties report that 50% to 60% of children in foster care in those counties are there because of meth addiction by one or both parents.
Meanwhile, many national news outlets reported results of a recent study showing meth use increased 43% between 2015 and 2019, and deaths linked to methamphetamine overdoses nearly tripled the same time period in the U.S.
The results reported Wednesday in the publication JAMA Psychiatry found the number of overdose deaths involving psychostimulant drugs— mostly meth— increased 180% from 5,526 in 2015 to 15,489 in 2019.
However, meth use only increased by 43% in that same time period, suggesting that high risk behaviors such as mixing substances may be contributing to the increase in deaths, the study found.