Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant drug used for both medicinal and illegal purposes. Pharmacuetical methamphetamine is prescribed by physicians in formulations such as Desoxyn. Illegal methamphetamine comes in a variety of forms. It has become one of the world's most significant illicit drugs. Abusers report feelings of high energy, confidence, and euphoria. When abused, methamphetamine can be very addictive, and difficult to stop using.
Q. What are the physical signs exhibited by a Meth user?
Meth users exhibit many symptoms: grinding of teeth, light sensitivity due to pupil dilation, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat and breathing, sweating, euphoria, hyperactivity, tremors, depression & irritability, paranoia, suspiciousness, hallucinations, and more. They also frequently have sores on their arms from scratching at imaginary bugs.
Q. What street names are associated with Methamphetamine?
"Meth", "crystal meth", "crystal", "speed", "crank", "ice" (a highly potent form of the drug).
Q. Where does Methamphetamine come from?
Some forms of methamphetamine are produced commercially and prescribed by physicians to treat various health problems. Illicit methamphetamine is manufactured in clandestine laboratories from commonly available materials. Most meth consumed in the United States is produced in "super-labs" located in Mexico and the southwestern United States. However there has been a dramatic increase in the proliferation of small clandestine labs assembled by low-level dealers and users.
Q. Are these labs dangerous?
Extremely dangerous. Clandestine labs use powerful chemicals, solvents and reagents to produce methamphetamine. Most of these items are improperly stored and handled at these labs. There is a danger of fire and explosion. There is also a exposure danger to those living in a structure where a lab is or may have been located.
Q. Where are these clandestine labs located?
Clandestine labs can be located anywhere. They may be small enough for a tabletop. Lab activity has been located primarily in rural areas such as the Panhandle and Central Florida, but these labs have been found in all regions of the Florida. They have been found in houses, mobile homes, sheds, motel rooms and even automobiles. Anyone or anything in close proximity could be endangered.
Q. How are the children affected?
The risk to children at these locations is extremely high. Law enforcement agrees there is generally no limit to the degree of neglect of these children. For example, exposed razor blades, often used to cut the finished product, as well as modified electrical systems with exposed wires running through the home are common hazards. The children are often dirty and have not been bathed for days. These children educate the social worker on the production of meth, as many of them have been enlisted in the cooking, sales and distribution of methamphetamine. Additionally, children in these environments are exposed to excessive violence, and may be victims of physical and/or sexual abuse.
Q. What happens when the children are found in a meth lab?
Most drug endangered children are discovered or rescued during law enforcement actions relating to their parents or caregivers. That event may be one of the most defining moments of their lives. If ignored and left unmonitored, these children continue to be victims caught in a cycle of drug abuse. They are also at increased risk for neglect, physical and sexual abuse. Children identified at a meth scene must be cleansed from the toxicity of the chemical exposure, and are forced to leave all of their clothing, toys, and possessions behind for the same reason.
Q. Where are the children taken once their caregiver is arrested?
Upon removal from a dangerous environment, drug endangered children need the immediate attention of child welfare services and assessment by medical and mental health professionals. If parents have endangered children, their actions may require prosecution, termination of parental rights, or court supervision of family reunification. DEC Teams seek the long-term goal of providing safe, supportive and drug-free environments which permit children to prosper.
Q. I suspect someone I know may be making methamphetamine. What should I look for?
Clandestine labs may emit strong chemical odors. There may be glassware or plastic containers with tubing attached. Large amounts of acetone, lye drain cleaner, lithium batteries, or numerous packages of pseudoephedrine. If you suspect that you have stumbled on a Meth lab, or believe you know where one is located, leave the area immediately and call the police.
Q. What are the environmental hazards posed by these clandestine labs?
The process used to manufacture methamphetamine involves powerful solvents and chemicals, some of which may be explosive or cause toxic exposure dangers. Many times these chemicals are dumped on the ground or into waterways in an effort to dispose of them. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has primary enforcement responsibility if you suspect ground or water contamination.
Q. My drugstore recently put pseudoephedrine products behind the counter. They said it was because of methamphetamine. Why is that?
Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are the precursor chemicals required to manufacture methamphetamine. Ephedrine was made a prescription drug a few years ago, so Meth "cooks" turned to pseudoephedrine instead. To prevent Meth users from buying these products in bulk for illegal purposes, Florida passed a law in 2005 requiring that all single active ingredient pseudoephedrine products be placed behind the counter and limiting the amount of these products that can be bought in a single purchase.
Q. I am a farmer and use liquid anhydrous ammonia as a fertilizer. I have heard that Meth addicts steal ammonia. Is this true?
Anhydrous ammonia is a reagent chemical used in one of the manufacturing products. It is often stolen from large tanks found on farms. Farmers should take precautions to prevent easy access to these tanks. It is a felony in Florida to steal anhydrous ammonia.
Q. What about Meth use and Pregnancy?
When you are pregnant, the drugs you take also go to your fetus. The toxicity of the Meth manufacturing process is especially dangerous to you and your unborn child. If you or someone in your home is using any illicit drug while you are pregnant, get help immediately. Your health care provider can assist you in locating the resources in your community. If you are having trouble finding a prenatal care provider, you may contact your local county health department (chd). To find the chd serving your county go to www.doh.state.fl.us/chdsitelist.htm
. All pregnant women and new parents who have abused drugs during pregnancy are eligible for Healthy Start services. These services are aimed at reducing barriers to getting into treatment, providing support for abstinence and assisting in getting needed health care. To locate a local Healthy Start Coalition go to http://www.healthystartflorida.com/directoryList.asp