Pubdate: Wed, 08 Nov 2006
Source: Federal Way Mirror (WA)
Author: Lois Bancroft
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Drug Education)


Students at Truman High School were shocked into attentiveness Monday
during a methamphetamine presentation from the Partnership for a Drug
Free America.

The Meth 360 presentation featured images of open sores and rotting
teeth, illustrating the physical effects of meth abuse.

"Oh that's disgusting," and "ewww yuck" echoed through the crowd of
Truman students.

Rich Palladino from the Partnership for a Drug Free America showed
before and after pictures of meth users and explained the long-term
effects of meth abuse.

Meth is a stimulant that comes as a crystalline powder or rocky

It varies in color from shades of white to yellow, brown or pink. It
is sometimes called crank, crystal, tweak or speed.

Meth can be snorted through the nose, eaten, smoked or

It creates a surge in dopamine levels resulting in a euphoric rush.
Dopamine is a chemical naturally occurring in the brain that is
associated with pleasure.

Meth users become excited, focused and alert. They experience loss of
appetite and reduction of fatigue.

While high, they often perform useless, repetitive tasks such as
cleaning, sorting items or assembling and disassembling objects. The
high can last up to 12 hours.

As the drug wears off, users come down with a crash. They become
irritable, depressed and disorientated. Often fatigued and unable to
function, they have intense cravings for more meth. Tolerance to the
drug increases rapidly. Because of this, meth is highly addictive.

After chronic meth abuse, the abuser's brain becomes unable to produce
normal amounts of dopamine, Palladino said.

"That person is not able to feel normal good feelings," Palladino
said. "The world is just kind of gray out there."

Meth produces a high much more powerful and dangerous than marijuana
or cocaine, said Keith Neeley, special agent for the United States
Drug Enforcement Administration.

Neeley showed images of meth lab explosions and meth users living in
filthy homes cluttered with debris.

One picture showed a baby bottle modified to become a smoking device
for meth. Meth users often abuse or neglect their children, Neeley

"Their brain is fried, they don't care," he said. "You don't want to
try this stuff."

Community effects

Meth affects not only the users, but the entire community.

And yes, there's a meth problem in Federal Way, Neeley said. During
his years serving as a special agent for the DEA, he's seen it firsthand.

"There's meth here. Actually, I've done a lot of cases here," Neeley
said. "Federal Way has got problems."

Communities with meth problems suffer, as there is an increase in
abused or neglected children who must be placed in foster homes,
straining social service agencies.

Crimes including burglary, identity theft and car theft increase as
addicts struggle to find ways to buy more drugs.

"They do anything to make money, to get money to buy meth," Neeley

Users have even been known to shoplift from grocery stores and try to
exchange the goods for meth, Neeley said.

Meth users also are known to become paranoid and violent. High on
meth, people have been known to kill over a drug debt or a deal gone

On Aug. 4, 2001, 52-year-old Bill Scott was beaten to death outside
his Burien home because of a $10 drug debt. Two men were charged with
second degree murder in the beating.

Meth is produced in labs throughout the community, including Federal
Way. Labs have been found in basements, kitchens, garages, bedrooms,
barns, vacant buildings, campgrounds, hotels and trunks of cars.

Ingredients for meth production include drain cleaner, battery acid,
lye, lantern fuel, antifreeze, ephedrine, red phosphorous,
hydrochloric acid and anhydrous ammonia. The chemicals are toxic and
flammable. Amateur chemists can easily cause explosions.

A meth lab unnoticed poses a health and environmental hazard to
everyone around. For each pound of meth produced, five to six pounds
of hazardous waste are generated, according

That hazardous waste is routinely dumped into backyards, woods, sewage
systems, streams and rivers.

"How many of you like to fish?" Neeley asked the crowd. You wouldn't
want to fish next to a meth lab, he added.

Poisonous fumes produced during cooking are toxic for the surrounding
community and also leave a toxic residue in insulation and carpets,
making houses or hotel rooms used as meth labs are

Also, meth use and production strains health care resources. Meth
users and cooks are often uninsured. Children taken from meth users'
homes often require medical treatment.

Meth cooks who burn themselves in an explosion must receive
uncompensated care. And meth is linked to the spread of HIV and hepatitis.

Get Involved

The best ways to prevent meth problems in your neighborhood are to
participate in block watch programs and support drug education in
schools, Neeley said.

Keep an eye out for signs of a meth lab. One of the most obvious signs
are strong odors similar to cat urine or nail polish remover.

Meth users are often secretive or unfriendly neighbors. They will take
excessive security measures to protect their privacy including "no
trespassing" signs, dogs, fences and large trees or shrubs. In many
meth houses, the curtains are always drawn and windows are blackened
or covered.

There might be increased activity or frequent visitors at a meth house
at odd hours, particularly at night, according to a handout from the
Partnership for a Drug Free America.

Landlords should beware of renters who always pay in

If residents suspect a meth lab in their neighborhood, they should
contact police or call 911, Palladino said.

Do not confront the suspected drug users, he cautioned.

"You don't ever want to go up to a drug house," Palladino said. "You
don't want to try to do something on your own."


For Parents

The best way to prevent children from abusing drugs is to talk to
them, Palladino said. Open family discussions about drugs cut the
likelihood a child will use by 50 percent, he said.

Conversations about healthy lifestyles can begin as early as age

Cold or cough medicine is a good way to illustrate to young children
the proper way to handle drugs, Palladino said.

When kids transition from elementary to middle school, it is important
to have clear conversations about alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

Marijuana is a gateway drug, Palladino emphasized.

And it's important to remember that a parent is just that -- a parent,
Palladino said. A parent is not there to be a pal.

If a child asks a parent whether they have ever done drugs, the
Partnership for a Drug Free America recommends that the parent be
honest. If the answer is "yes," it can be used as a teachable moment
to explain to kids the dangers and risks associated with drug use.

Warning signs of meth abuse include sleeplessness, nervous physical
habits such as scratching, decreased appetite, confusion and presence
of paraphernalia including shortened straws, razor blades, mirrors,
syringes, heated spoons or surgical tubing.

The Partnership for a Drug Free America, along with local law
enforcement agencies and substance abuse programs, is offering
"Meth360" presentations for community groups. The presentations will
examine how meth affects the community through crime rates, property
values, welfare costs, identity theft, environment, health care, taxes
and children.

To schedule a presentation, which lasts from 20 minutes to an hour,
call (206) 612-2772 or e-mail For more information about meth or other drugs, visit

Go to and click
on "Faces of Meth: A before-and-after slideshow" to see the gruesome
tolls that meth can take on users.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake