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By Jerry Cegelske


September 27, 2005
Tuesday PM

Last winter I found an 8" cooking pot that had a pink substance in it.  Although it could have been a dessert gone wild, it wasn't sampled.  It was probably the remains from a methamphetamine (meth) cook and it was the inert ingredients from red ephedrine pills.  Since I had previously observed items used in the manufacture of meth dumped along the roads, I wanted to learn more about it and finally got some training which was very informative.
Why should you care, you don't use the stuff!  Do you have rental property, live in a multi-family unit, visit a national forest, have friends and relatives?  If you answer yes to one of these questions you should educate yourself on meth.
Methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that works directly on the brain and spinal cord by interfering with neurotransmission.  Neurotransmitters are the chemical substances naturally produced within nerve cells which is used to communicate with each other and send messages to influence and regulate our thinking and all other systems throughout the body.  (This is only important if you want to remain alive.)
Dopamine is the main neurotransmitter affected by meth.  Dopamine is involved with our natural reward system- feeling content and that our lives are meaningful and count for something, feeling good about a job well done, or getting pleasure from our family, school and other social interactions.
Meth is made by using cold and asthma medications, red phosphorus, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, battery acid, lye, lantern fuel, antifreeze, and other hazardous substances including ether.  Each pound of meth produced produces five to six pounds of toxic waste.  The reckless practices of the untrained people who manufacture it in labs result in explosions and fires that injure or kill not only the people and families involved but innocents and the rescuers who respond.  Labs can be anywhere, hotels, rentals, houses, boats, trucks, RV's, or anyplace you may visit.  It may cost up to $150,000 to clean up one of the toxic lab sites (your rental property!).
Teens may see meth as a safer, longer lasting high and easier to buy than cocaine.  Teen use doubled between 1990- 1996, and is thought to be far worse now.  Women are more likely to use meth than cocaine.  A quick profile gives high school and college students, blue-collar workers and unemployed persons in their 20's and 30's as principal users.  Athletes and students may use it for initial heightened physical and mental performance, workers for energy for working extra hours, women for losing weight, others for recreational use for parties or social activities (increased talkativeness). 
As with addictive drugs, it produces an initial pleasurable effect, followed by a rebound unpleasant effect, depression.  It suppresses the production of dopamine, creating a chemical imbalance; the user then physically needs a greater dosage to return to normal.   It gives a physical demand for it first, then a psychological demand later with increased confidence in meth to solve needs.  Meth effects are euphoria, increased alertness, increased energy, and shakes and tremors.  Other common effects are dilated pupils, teeth grinding, sweating , dry, itchy skin, welts, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, fever, twitching, strokes, and my favorite, feeling "Crank Bugs", the feeling that insects are crawling on your skin.
Now for the bad part, long term use results in depression, irritability, anxiety, volent mood changes, paranoia, hallucinations, calcium depletion, weight loss, fatal kidney and lung disorders, liver damage, blood clots, brain damage, and meth psychosis.  Meth induced paranoia has led to numerous murders and suicides.  The user frequently will fight with police rather than be in a reasonable frame of mind, resulting in fights and shoot-outs.
A woman in her mid-20's was first arrested on February 26, and arrested five more times until January of the next year.  Her arrest photos showed her downward physical progression until she looked like a woman in her 60's!  I asked about the health needs in future years and the reply was a laugh and a statement that they didn't live long enough to need later health care.  (The photographs I observed of meth cooks indicated that they had short life spans- not if, but when a lab blows up.)  The men didn't fare any better and both sexes showed the results of scratching their skin to get rid of the crank bugs with open sores and bleeding from face and arms.
Not a pleasant life to look forward to.  Help keep this DEADLY TRASH out of Ketchikan.

Jerry Cegelske
Code enforcement
Ketchikan Gateway Borough
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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