Crystal Meth Use Soars

Posted: 23rd May 2011 by Doc in Uncategorized
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When Dean Max Michael took to the podium to welcome participants to the School of Public Health’s recent symposium titled “Alabama’s Crystal Meth Epidemic,” he brought along an unconventional show-and-tell display: a detailed recipe for cooking methamphetamine and a grocery sack containing all the necessary ingredients.

“The fact that I was easily able to find the instructions on the Internet and purchase all the makings at a local supermarket underscores how the methamphetamine crisis differs from past drug scourges,” Michael explains. “Unlike cocaine and heroin smuggled in from other countries, crystal meth is a home-grown, do-it-yourself affair that’s not only cheaper than the imported illicit drugs, but it also delivers a more intense, violent, dangerous high—and it’s highly addictive.”

The extent to which the craze has caught on in the state boggles the mind. In one three-county area of North Alabama, for instance, law-enforcement officials raided an average of one home meth laboratory a year during the late 1990s. In 2003, the same officers busted 98 meth labs—a greater number than in eight New England states combined.

Congress recently passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, which was signed by President Bush in March under the national Patriot Act. The act targets methamphetamine made with over-the-counter allergy medication containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Under the law, individuals who make methamphetamine in a location where children are present could face up to 20 years in prison. Alabama passed a law in 2005 requiring buyers of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to show ID and sign a register.

However, during a panel discussion at the symposium, which featured state Senator Lowell Barron as the keynote speaker, it became clear that legislation and law enforcement are only two pieces of a complicated puzzle in the battle against meth abuse. Public health efforts are needed to fight this affliction, including drug education, beginning as early as elementary school, and treatment programs to help meth users break the deadly habit and rebuild their lives.

For those who doubt that crystal meth has become a statewide public health problem, Senator Barron says, “If you believe this epidemic is not affecting you, you’re wrong.”

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