Connecticut Federal, State and Local Officials
NOV 30 -- In order to highlight efforts to increase awareness and decrease demand of Methamphetamine, on November 30, 2006, the United States Department of Justice has sponsored the first National Methamphetamine Awareness Day.
In Hartford, United States Attorney Kevin J. O’Connor, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane, Connecticut Commissioner of Public Safety Leonard C. Boyle, Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell, Norwalk Police Chief Harry W. Rilling – President of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, and representatives from Connecticut’s Departments of Public Health and Mental Health and Addiction Services, discussed ongoing efforts to prevent the meth epidemic from reaching Connecticut.
Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant drug that dramatically affects the central nervous system. Meth comes in several forms, including powder, crystal, rocks, and tablets, and it can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. Unlike other illegal drugs that are derived from plants, meth can be manufactured domestically, often in small labs set up in home kitchens or garages, by using a variety of store-bought chemicals. The most common ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, commonly found in cold medicine. Through a cooking process the pseudoephedrine or ephedrine is chemically changed into meth. Other ingredients used during the production of methamphetamine include diet aids, lye (drain cleaner, such as Red Devil lye), acetone, toluene (brake cleaner), iodine solution or crystals, camp stove fuel (Coleman Fuel), alcohol (rubbing alcohol or gasoline additives), ether (starting fluid), paint thinner, freon, benzene, hydriotic acid, sulfuric acid (battery acid), muriatic acid, red phosphorous, reactive metals (lithium from batteries or sodium), and chloroform.
Meth production poses significant health and safety risks. Every pound of meth made can generate up to five pounds of toxic waste that may seep into the soil and groundwater. The manufacturing process also generates toxic fumes and highly explosive gases. Meth also has a very serious impact on children. Many children have been rescued from homes with meth labs or meth-using parents. Meth, chemicals, and syringes are all within reach of these children. As is the case with other types of drug addictions, parents high on meth often neglect their children.
Millions of tax dollars are spent each year to clean up meth labs, to care for drug endangered children, and to pay for law enforcement to deal with the meth problem.
While Connecticut has seen incidences of meth production, distribution, possession and addiction, the state has not suffered the public health and safety consequences that many regions in the country have experienced.
“We are fortunate that the meth epidemic has not taken a foothold in Connecticut,” U.S. Attorney O’Connor stated. “However, we must not be complacent and believe that this will forever be the case. Meth awareness events are all the more important in less-affected regions like ours in order to prevent what other regions have faced from happening here.”
In the past few years, increased law enforcement efforts, combined with growing public awareness of this incredibly destructive drug, have led to measures that have stifled its domestic production. Sales of legal drugs that contain pseudoephedrine or ephedrine have been restricted. A recent study by the Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center reports that domestic meth lab seizures have decreased by more than 50 percent since 2004.
“We have DEA agents specially trained to dismantle your methamphetamine labs and to take your freedom,” stated June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in New England.
However, decreased domestic production has been offset by increased production in “super labs” in Mexico and elsewhere. The majority of meth in the United States is produced outside of the U.S. and smuggled into the country by sophisticated drug trafficking organizations.
“Connecticut is indeed fortunate that we have not seen the meth epidemic that is occurring in other parts of the country,” said Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane. “That is why it is so important that we work together at all levels of government – state, local and federal – to promote education and other preventive measures.”
Those who use meth report that the drug causes an increase in energy and alertness, a decrease in appetite, and an intense euphoric “rush.” However, with sustained use, a meth user can develop a tolerance to it, taking increasingly higher doses of meth trying to catch the high that was first experienced. Over time, a person using meth may experience irritability, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, sleeplessness, confusion, aggressive feelings, violent rages, cravings for more meth, and depression. They may become psychotic and experience paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions. The paranoia may lead to homicidal or suicidal thoughts.
A fairly common hallucination experienced by meth users is the so-called crank bug. The user gets the sensation that there are insects creeping on top of, or underneath, her skin. Users will pick at or scratch at their skin trying to get rid of the imaginary bugs, creating open sores that may become infected.
Meth also reduces the amount of protective saliva around the teeth. Meth users often consume sugary soft drinks, tend to neglect personal hygiene, grind their teeth and clench their jaws, leading to what is commonly called “meth mouth.”
Governor Rell encouraged addicts of any drug to seek help by calling Connecticut’s 2-1-1 information line. “Effective treatment is available, and we want people to know that help is just a phone call away,” Governor Rell stated.