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Wickenburg, AZ.  The destructive drug Crystal Meth is a national and local problem which is resulting in child abuse, crime, broken families and destroyed lives.  

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that can be injected, snorted, smoked, or ingested orally. Methamphetamine users feel a short yet intense "rush" when the drug is initially administered. The effects of methamphetamine include increased activity, decreased appetite, and a sense of well being that can last from 20 minutes to 12 hours. The drug has limited medical uses for the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorders, and obesity.

Most amphetamines distributed to the black market are produced in clandestine laboratories. Methamphetamine laboratories are, by far, the most frequently encountered clandestine laboratories in the United States. The ease of clandestine synthesis, combined with tremendous profits, has resulted in significant availability of illicit methamphetamine. Large amounts of methamphetamine are also illicitly smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

According to the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 10.4 million Americans aged 12 or older used methamphetamine at least once in their lifetimes for non medical reasons, representing 4.3% of the U.S. population in that
age group.

The effects of methamphetamine use can include addiction, psychotic behavior, and brain damage. Methamphetamine is highly addictive and users trying to abstain from use may suffer withdrawal symptoms that include depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and intense cravings for the drug. Chronic methamphetamine use can cause violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. Users can also exhibit psychotic behavior including auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, and paranoia, possibly resulting in homicidal or suicidal thoughts. Use of methamphetamine can cause damage to the brain that is detectable months after the use of the drug. The damage to the brain caused by methamphetamine use is similar to damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and epilepsy.

Of an estimated 106 million emergency department (ED) visits in the U.S. during 2004, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimates that 1,997,993 were drug-related.

Photo of a Face of Meth (Left) and 11 Months later (right) 

Photos courtesy of Sheriff’s Department, Multnomah County, Oregon

Decreased domestic methamphetamine production is reducing wholesale supplies of domestically produced methamphetamine. The decreased production is a result of law enforcement pressure, public awareness campaigns, and increased regulation of the sale and use of precursor and essential chemicals used in methamphetamine production. However, decreases in domestic methamphetamine production have been offset by increased production in Mexico.

Methamphetamine is easily produced in clandestine laboratories or meth labs using a variety of ingredients available in stores. The manufacturing of methamphetamine is called "cooking". Cooking a batch of meth can be very dangerous due to the fact that the chemicals used are volatile and the by-products are very toxic. Meth labs present a danger to the meth cook, the community surrounding the lab, and the law enforcement personnel who discover the lab.

The Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system collects and analyzes data about the public health consequences (e.g., morbidity, mortality, and evacuations) of acute hazardous substance—release events. Of the 40,349 events reported to the HSEES system during January 1, 2000—June 30, 2004, a total of 1,791 (4%) were associated with illicit meth production. Meth events consistently had a higher percentage of persons with injuries than did nonmeth events. Of the 1,791 meth events, 558 (31%) resulted in a total of 947 injured persons.

As methamphetamine production in small-scale laboratories has decreased nationally since 2004, Mexican criminal groups have expanded direct distribution of methamphetamine, even in many smaller communities. For example, in Midwestern states such as Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio, where methamphetamine laboratory seizures have decreased significantly, Mexican criminal groups have gained control over most distribution of the drug. Law enforcement reports confirm a similar trend throughout much of the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Florida/Caribbean, Southeast, and West Central Regions.

These groups pose an increased challenge to local law enforcement because they are often Mexico-based, well-organized, and experienced drug distributors that have been successful in blending into somewhat insular Hispanic communities or among Hispanic workers employed in the agricultural, landscaping, construction, and meat packaging industries. The ability of Mexican criminal groups to continue the expansion of methamphetamine distribution into more communities in the eastern United States appears to be limited primarily by their capability to further expand methamphetamine production in Mexico.

Law enforcement reporting indicates that methamphetamine laboratories have been discovered on federal lands throughout the United States. Methamphetamine laboratories often are discovered in or near caves, cabins, recreational areas, abandoned mines, and private vehicles located on or adjacent to federal lands.

What is a clandestine laboratory?

The clandestine drug laboratory or clan lab is a mini-chemical lab designed for one purpose: to manufacture illegal drugs quickly and cheaply. Clan lab chemists can produce LSD, synthetic heroin and other drugs, but their drug of choice is methamphetamine.

These homemade drugs are dangerous, but the labs are equally dangerous and can be located in any neighborhood. Toxic chemicals, explosions, fires, booby traps, and armed criminals - are all common dangers of clan labs.

Clan labs can be found in:

  • Rural rentals with absentee landlords (homes, barns, mobile homes or outbuildings).
  • Urban home or apartment rentals with absentee landlords.
  • Trailers and motor homes.
  • Motel rooms.
  • Houseboats.
  • Mini-storage units. These are used to store chemicals, drugs, lab equipment and weapons.
Source (PDF)

What are the dangers of meth labs?:

Clandestine drug labs cause three main types of harm: physical injury from explosions, fires, chemical burns, and toxic fumes; environmental hazards; and child endangerment.

Physical injury from explosions, fires, chemical burns, and toxic fumes. Mixing chemicals in clandestine drug labs creates substantial risks of explosions, fires, chemical burns, and toxic fume inhalation. Those who mix the chemicals (known as "cooks" or "cookers") and their assistants, emergency responders, hazardous material cleanup crews, neighbors, and future property occupants are all at risk from chemical exposure.

Environmental hazards. Each pound of manufactured methamphetamine produces about 5 to 6 pounds of hazardous waste. Clandestine drug lab operators commonly dump this waste into the ground, sewers, streams, or rivers. The water used to put out lab fires can also wash toxic chemicals into sewers. Residual contamination of the ground, water supplies, buildings, and furniture may last for years.

Child endangerment. Many jurisdictions are now finding that children are commonly exposed to the hazards of clandestine drug labs. Some children have dangerous chemicals or traces of illicit drugs in their systems. Others suffer burns to their lungs or skin from chemicals or fire. Some have died in explosions and fires. Many are badly neglected or abused by parents suffering from the effects of drug abuse. Senior citizens whose caretakers are lab operators are similarly vulnerable. Pets, including guard dogs, can also be harmed. Source (PDF)

Are there different types of meth labs?

There are two general types of clandestine drug labs. One is the "super" lab a large, highly organized lab that can manufacture 10 or more pounds of methamphetamine per production cycle. To date, super labs are concentrated in southern California and Mexico. The other type of lab is smaller, and often referred to as "mom and pop" or "Beavis and Butthead" labs. These labs can manufacture only 1 to 4 ounces of methamphetamine per production cycle. Their operators typically produce enough drugs for their own use and close associates' use, with just enough extra to sell to others to finance the purchase of production chemicals. Source (PDF)

How many meth labs have been seized in the United States?

During 2005, law enforcement agencies reported 12,139 meth lab incidents in the United States. This includes labs, "dumpsites" and/or "chemical and glassware" seizures. Source


Where can I find help for a meth problem?
If you, or someone you know, have a problem with meth, get help now. Call 1-800-662-HELP or find treatment online.

Prevention :

What should be included in a comprehensive meth prevention strategy?
To be effective, drug prevention programs generally should be long-term and comprehensive, with the goal of preventing any illicit drug use, not just the abuse of one drug or class of drug. Nevertheless, as evidenced by the increasing use of methamphetamine, demand patterns can change quickly, often with significant risk to public health and safety. Effective prevention therefore must also include early warnings about such emerging drug threats and quick community response through education and outreach efforts.

Scientific research supports targeted short-term prevention efforts and more general long-term prevention efforts identifying specific drugs subject to abuse and related demographic trends. These trends include patterns of drug use initiation and progression, motivation and risk factors associated with drug use, and the factors that protect against drug use. Prevention programs should be based on this knowledge, beginning with scientific collaboration to identify and develop testing methods and products for meth, and should address specific community needs in some cases focusing efforts on one or more particular drugs. Furthermore, prevention programs should seek the voluntary participation of many community components including individuals, families, schools, religious institutions, businesses, law enforcement, social service agencies, the media, and other organizations in a coordinated manner according to community needs and available resources. Source

For more information on prevention programs, visit SAMHSA's Model Programs site. For more information about community coalitions, visit the Drug-Free Communities Support Program site or the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) site.




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