Pubdate: Tue, 24 Apr 2007
Source: Cambridge Evening News (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Cambridge Newspapers Ltd
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


A DEADLY drug has been seized by Cambridgeshire police for the first
time, sparking warnings about its devastating effects.

Two men, both Eastern Europeans, have been caught with
methamphetamine, known as crystal meth, a drug which ravages health
and leaves users in a state of aggressive psychosis - sometimes for
several days at a time.

Although the devastating effects are well-documented in America, it is
still relatively rare in Britain.

However, the arrests in Cambridgeshire are part of a national trend
which suggests the drug's popularity is rising.

Now police have issued a stark warning about what it can do to
people's health and state of mind, with examples in America of users
being sedated for two days before they are calm enough to be treated
by doctors.

Det Chief Insp Gary Ridgway, Cambridgeshire's leading drugs officer,
said: "Methamphetamine can be extremely damaging to mental and
physical health.

"Effects on mental health include significant increases in levels of
aggression and paranoia, making them difficult for police officers and
health workers to deal with.

"I must stress there is not a problem with crystal meth production and
use in Cambridgeshire, however, we are taking steps to increase
officer awareness about the drug and its effects to ensure our
frontline teams are well equipped to deal with anyone found in
possession of, or having taken, the drug.

"That training includes how to identify a crystal meth lab, and what
precautions officers need to take in entering premises suspected of
being used for production."

Crystal meth can be manufactured at home using chemicals such as
hydrogen peroxide and red phosphorous - the substance used on the red
strip on a matchbox - which can easily be bought on the internet.

However, Mr Ridgway warned the production process itself was
potentially lethal.

He said: "When they are mixed and processed, the ingredients pose a
high risk of explosion and give off toxic fumes that can be extremely
harmful to health.

"This production process presents real risks as the chemicals produced
in these so-called crystal meth labs are absorbed into the walls and
ceilings of rooms and can make housing virtually uninhabitable."

The drug is sold at similar prices to crack cocaine - between UKP10 and
UKP15 for a "wrap".

Whereas the effects of crack last for around half an hour, crystal
meth might last for as long as eight or 10 hours. There is also
concern that other drugs, including cocaine and Ecstasy, are being cut
with crystal meth, meaning people may take methamphetamine

A 32-year-old man from Peterborough has been charged with possession
of methamphetamine with intent to supply, and a 24-year-old man from
St Ives, arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, is on
police bail until May 24.

A History of Crystal Meth

CRYSTAL meth is a highly addictive drug which can be snorted, smoked,
swallowed or injected.

It is taken to induce feelings of euphoria, but can also induce
aggression and paranoia lasting for days at a time, if taken in large
enough quantities.

It can cause heart problems and weight-loss as well as skin sores and
rotting teeth and gums.

Also known as ice, crazy medicine and go-fast, crystal meth was
upgraded to a Class A drug earlier this year, with users facing up to
seven years in jail, while dealers can be jailed for life.

In America about 12 million people are thought to have tried it,
including some who believed it could be effective as a slimming drug.

In the UK about 10 crystal meth labs have been closed by police,
leading to fears it is growing in popularity.
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