Meth use has deadly consequences
By: Randy Cavin, from http://www.nwtntoday.com/news.php?viewStory=39070
From WPSD-TV news archives: Kentucky State Police has reported that a 22-month-old toddler has died from drinking a mixture of liquid drain cleaner and salt that was left in a cup on a kitchen counter.
Police say the liquid drain cleaner was being used to make methamphetamine by the toddler’s parents.
The above is a true story. The toddler died a horrible death June 1, 2009, from the chemical burns caused by the sulfuric acid in the drain cleaner. The toddler’s parents were arrested and charged with murder and manufacturing methamphetamine.Investigator Marty Plunk of the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department said the mixture of liquid drain cleaner and salt produces the same gas Hitler used in the Nazi death camps in World War II.
The harmful effects of using meth happen immediately. Plunk says from the first time you use meth it begins to cause damage, both physically and psychologically. The most common way to use meth is by smoking it.
“As they inhale that, generally it will crystallize your lungs. When you inhale it, you inhale it straight into your lungs. It immediately constricts, freezes, and crystallizes in your lungs,” Plunk said.
Plunk says there are different metals and chemicals that are metal based used in the process of making meth. When you inhale meth you are inhaling these chemicals and metals. Meth is an extremely heavy metal-based drug.
“These metals settle somewhere. So your body automatically starts to get rid of it or process it,” Plunk said. “It cannot process it. So it has to come out. The body gets rid it of various different ways.”
Plunk says one way the human body expels these chemicals in methamphetamine is through the pores of the skin.
“You begin to see metal. It comes through your pores. That’s where you see these sores on the skin,” Plunk said. “That’s what that is; it’s the metal coming out.”
Another harmful effect from using meth is it kills the teeth. The chemicals in meth, Plunk says, settles in the jaws and roots of the teeth and then the teeth begin to die. The chemicals begin to destroy the roots and eventually the teeth die and fall out.
“The teeth turn black. It eats through the roots inside-out and they just come out,” Plunk said.
Those are just the mild effects meth has on the human body. The more serious physical harm the drug can do is scary.
“The overall effects are: liver failure, kidney failure, and cancer. There are over a hundred different things it causes and does,” Plunk said. “When one thing goes wrong in your body it affects one thing and another thing.”
Meth is not only a very dangerous drug to use it, is also very addictive because it gives the user a heightened sense of awareness.
“When you use this drug you are on top of your game. It’s the high and the feeling that you are aware of everything going on around you. You are numero uno,” Plunk said. “It’s like a drunk: 8-foot-tall and bullet proof all the time.”
Plunk says people who use meth use it to stay awake. He says college students use it for that very reason.
“They want to stay up and study, and study, and study. They want to absorb all of this at one time and being on top of the game. You can multi-task very well using meth,” Plunk said.
That is the addictive part of it: being able to stay awake and feeling invincible. However, what goes up must come down and when a user of meth comes down, Plunk says, it is a hard crash. When a person comes down from a meth-induced high, that person may sleep for two or three days. Then the person will get up and be right back on it and stay up for 7-12 days and keep this cycle going.
“When they are at the end of that cycle they are paranoid and they are hallucinating,” Plunk said.
Plunk talked about a known user who was high on meth. This person calls the dispatcher and said someone stole $150 from him and left trash in his yard. The caller said someone drove by and shot at him. He then calls back three minutes later and said there were people in his bushes, but they were not there now. Plunk says the person called back seven hours later and said someone broke into his house and abused him, broke his computer and shot up his house. The caller is a well-known meth user. Nothing really happened.
“That’s at the tail end of being up seven or eight days,” Plunk said.
It is not only the users who are harmed by meth; it is also the innocent people around the users such as family and friends. All too often the users of meth fail to pay their bills, buy groceries, and show up for work. Users of meth may lose their jobs, their homes and their families.
Plunk says the above caller at one time had a good paying job and a nice home. “Several years ago, we caught him and his girlfriend cooking dope. He had a nice house. He had a wife. He had a wonderful job making $50,000-60,000 a year,” Plunk said. “He tried this drug and within six months he lost it all; his kids, wife, job and the house.”
Plunk says now this man’s family has to sit with him because of the harmful effects meth has done to him.
Once a meth lab has been broken up, it has to be cleaned up. The cost of cleaning up a meth lab can be more than $10,000. The chemicals used in making meth are extremely hazardous. Powerful drain cleaners mixed with salt produces hydrochloric gas that is deadly. Lithium, anhydrous ammonia and ether or camp fuel is also used.
Plunk says lithium metal mixed with the moisture in the air can cause it to erupt into flames or explode. Only state-certified professionals are allowed to clean up meth labs.
Plunk said once a meth lab has been discovered in a home, the home has to be quarantined. The cost to the home owner if it is a rental property can be staggering.
“We busted a girl and her husband in Gleason cooking dope in a brand new house. The cleanup crew came and hauled off the stuff in the house. I quarantined the house. I notified the owner and now she’s having to clean that house professionally,” Plunk said. “There’s a list of certain people who are qualified to do that.”
When qualified professionals certified by the state clean a house, everything goes. Plunk says the furniture, the carpet, clothing, pictures, everything in the house. Even the walls will have to be repainted.
Many times the home owner will have the house bulldozed instead of paying the high cost of having it cleaned and replacing the items in the house.
Another dangerous aspect of making meth is the mobile meth lab. Plunk says mobile meth labs are so dangerous because of the explosive nature of the chemicals. Plunk said that if the drug in a mobile meth lab is being mixed the wrong way, the vehicle can erupt into flames or explode causing severe injury to other motorists and innocent bystanders.
Law enforcement officials are also at great risk from meth cookers. Plunk says people manufacturing meth have, at times, been armed and he never knows what is going to happen.
“We go in prepared for the worst, expect the worst and take what we get. One of three things is going to happen; they are going to give up, they are going to run or they are going to fight,” Plunk said.
Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug to use and make. It causes harm to all of those around it, even to the innocent. The parents of the 22-month-old toddler in Kentucky found that out the hard way.
Editor’s note: Randy Cavin is News Editor of the UT Martin student newspaper, The Pacer, and also is a senior communications major.