Pubdate: Mon, 12 Nov 2007
Source: Times Record (ME)
Copyright: 2007 Times Record Inc., ASC Inc
Author: Laurie Doran, Times Record Contributor
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


WOOLWICH -- First responders, fire fighters, and law  enforcement 
officers from the surrounding areas  attended a training session on 
recognition and  awareness of methamphetamines at the Woolwich 
Central School recently.

Kevin Cashman, a member of the Portland Maine Drug  Enforcement 
agency, outlined the dangers of  methamphetamine laboratories and 
explained some of the  equipment found in them.

"If you suspect you have entered a methamphetamine  laboratory, get 
out as soon as you can and call the  Maine Drug Enforcement Agency," 
said Cashman. "We are  trained and equipped to handle the toxic substance."

Before 1990, drug law enforcement agents gathered  evidence of 
methamphetamine laboratories with bare  hands and no protective 
clothing. Subsequently, many  agents suffered from serious health 
problems such as  lung disease, kidney failure, cancer, and 
Parkinson's  disease.

Since 1990, drug law enforcement agents have been  required to wear 
protective gear.

Methamphetamine is an illegal drug made of combined raw  materials in 
home-made laboratories. The laboratories  could be anywhere -- in a 
city, in the suburbs, or in a  country area. Methamphetamine labs 
have been found  across the country in vacant buildings, apartments, 
houses, barns, storage units, mobile homes, cars,  campers, trailers, 
and hotels.

Common household items used to make methamphetamine  include glass 
canning jars, funnels, tubing and coffee  filters. Recognizing 
incongruous items gathered near a  stove is an indication of a 
methamphetamine laboratory.

"One tell-tale sign of a methamphetamine lab is lots of  coffee 
filters with red stains," said Cashman. "Other  indicators are glass 
jars containing unidentified  chemical substances, and chemicals not 
stored in  original containers."

Since the federal regulation of the drug ephedrine, the  number of 
methamphetamine laboratories has decreased  across the country, but 
the danger still exists.

Some of the slang names for methamphetamine are ice,  glass, christy 
and zip. Methamphetamine can look like  other illegal drugs. It can 
be reddish brown, white, or  gold colored.

"Don't assume the drug can be readily identified. Have  it tested," 
said Cashman.

One pound of methamphetamine produces six pounds of  toxic waste. 
Cashman pointed out that where the toxic  waste of amphetamine is 
dumped is hazardous because of  the toxic chemicals likely to be there.

Meth laboratories are highly explosive environments.  The gases can 
build up quickly and can kill. The  surrounding area can also be 
dangerous. Drug dealers  want to keep people away from their 
laboratory and will  often set booby traps that could kill or cause 
serious  injury.

Physical effects of amphetamine users include: loss of  weight, 
profuse sweating, body odor, bad teeth, eroded  gums, scars and open 
sores, large pupils while under  the influence of the drug, paranoia, 
anxiety, increased  aggressiveness, and insomnia.

Amphetamine users are more prone to diseases such  hepatitis, AIDS, 
cancer, herpes, and tuberculosis.

All it takes is one use of amphetamine to become  addicted.

Recovery rates for amphetamine users are grim.  Statistics indicate 
that 93 percent of users relapse.  Only 7 percent recover from the addiction.

A drug user on amphetamine may be armed, said Cashman.  Anyone who 
encounters a methamphetamine user should  proceed with caution. Keep 
a distance, keep hands  visible, don't make any sudden movements, and 
if possible keep the individual talking to prevent the  situation 
from escalating.

"Safety is key," said Roger Brawn, emergency medical  services 
director in Woolwich. "We go into homes every  day, and a 
methamphetamine laboratory could be  anywhere."
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