Wednesday, September 27, 2006

National Geographic Channel Explores METH - THE WORLD′S MOST DANGEROUS DRUG


EXPLORER Episode Reveals the Factors Behind a Growing Epidemic Spreading from America′s Small Towns to Big Cities

Methamphetamine - or "meth"; for short - is considered one of the hardest addictions to quit. Across the United States, its abuse is ravaging rural communities and cities alike and spreading its tentacles to major metropolitan areas and around the globe. What makes this drug so powerful, addictive and destructive? National Geographic Channel correspondent Lisa Ling examines this epidemic to expose why many are calling meth the World′s Most Dangerous Drug.

Premiering Wednesday, October 18, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, EXPLORER: WORLD′S MOST DANGEROUS DRUG tracks the grimy and graphic world of meth from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest and overseas to Thailand. Explorer tackles the story from the inside, riding along with specialized law enforcement agents and exposing the gritty world of traffickers and addicts. See the faces of real meth users, where before-and-after pictures alone tell a stunning story of the drug′s punishing physical effects. The program also follows the drug′s powerful impact on the human brain to reveal the science behind meth′s intense addictive powers and destructive physiological effects.

Meth can easily be manufactured in hidden labs using store-bought materials. Ling and the crew from Explorer expose the devastating impact of these labs dotting neighborhoods and shed light on the science behind the drug and why its addictive hold is so insidious. "It was eye-opening to see the damage first-hand that meth has caused to real people in so many different areas," commented Lisa Ling. "This drug is more powerful and cheaper than cocaine, which is why I wanted to raise awareness of this growing epidemic."

Reporting from the elusive inner circles of meth users, Lisa Ling goes behind bars for candid interviews with addicts and shows the devastating physical and emotional side effects of the drug. As many as 92 percent of users relapse, so many of these meth addicts are in and out of jail numerous times. Correspondent Lisa Ling and the Explorer cameras also accompany undercover police detectives for drug busts on the streets of Portland, OR.

EXPLORER: WORLD′S MOST DANGEROUS DRUG also showcases several "faces of meth," including a young couple from Nebraska who died from exposure to prolonged below-freezing temperatures during a winter storm while high on meth. Tragically, they were found in an easily reachable location, and the recordings of their 911 call reveal that it was their meth-induced paranoia and disorientation that resulted in four agonizing hours filled with fatal missteps. Also profiled is a former addict from Oregon who shares his story of a 20-year downward spiral caused by meth and provides a guided tour of his hometown meth labs and locations where he abused the drug.

EXPLORER: WORLD′S MOST DANGEROUS DRUG traces the evolution of the drug, beginning with its World War II origins; it is said to have been used by Japanese kamikaze pilots on suicide missions. The show explains how its popularity grew in America with the aid of the biker group Hell′s Angels, who gave it the nickname "crank" because they smuggled it inside the crankcases of their motorcycles.

The drug′s recent, and perhaps most alarming, evolution exploded onto the scene when new cold and allergy medications such as Sudafed hit the market, providing the base ingredients for a homemade version of meth. Now more accessible and less expensive than ever before, meth has metastasized through a web of rural communities and small towns where it can easily be manufactured. And in areas where law enforcement has been able to crack down on homemade production, a new source for the deadly drug has emerged: Mexico. Mexican meth suppliers have stepped up production, smuggling the drug into the United States via the same routes established by the cocaine cartel.

The meth crisis is also becoming a worldwide problem that is spreading its poison across international borders. Explorer travels to the back alleys of Bangkok, Thailand, where a pill form laced with caffeine called "ya-ba" has become a way of life for workers juggling multiple jobs and excruciating hours to survive in Thailand′s go-go economy.

It′s a drug that has circled the globe, leaving devastating marks on communities across America and nations around the world. Governments have admitted that it is a crisisÑone that is now becoming a critical problem in eastern cities like Miami, Baltimore and New York. It is a burgeoning epidemic that is hidden in our midst, truly living up to its reputation as the World′s Most Dangerous Drug.

EXPLORER: WORLD′S MOST DANGEROUS DRUG is produced for the National Geographic Channel (NGC) by National Geographic Television & Film (NGT&F). For World′s Most Dangerous Drug, producer is David Murdock and editor is Andrea Barrick. For NGC, executive producer is Kathleen Cromley; senior vice president of special programming is Michael Cascio and executive-in-charge of production is John Ford.