Methamphetamine misconceptions were dispelled at a meth awareness event at Meyersdale Area High School Wednesday.
The school hosted the event in response to resident requests because of recent drug activity. About 100 people attended the event where experts spoke about ways to combat meth’s increased use.
Examples of meth labs were displayed at the Meyersdale meth awareness event Wednesday. At left, an example of a gas generator, which could be found at a dump site. At center is an example of meth “cooking.” Whitish residue sinks to the bottom while lithium battery pieces float. At right is an example of a discarded meth lab at a dump site. The liquid is cooked away and leaves white residue and lithium pieces
Meth is a highly addictive synthetic stimulant. Three meth labs were identified in Somerset County in the last year. These labs are dangerous, and can lead to fires or explosions. The most common method to make meth is called “one pot” or “shake ‘n bake.” All of the ingredients can be purchased at a convenience store.
Meyersdale resident Stacie Yoder said terms associated with the drug conjure up incorrect mental images of meth “labs,” “cooks” and “pots.”
“I would have never thought to look for a bottle,” she said.
One of the most common signs of a meth lab is a dump site — a place where meth-makers discard used materials. These often consist of soda bottles containing white residue or bottles with a tube coming out of the top.
State police Cpl. Dennis Ulery encouraged residents to report any suspicious activity. Any materials used to make meth purchased in large quantities should be reported, he said. Some of the most common materials used are batteries, cold packs, drain cleaner, ethyl ether, lighter fluid, coffee filters, cement cleaner and pseudoephedrine.
The reaction of these products makes the process dangerous. Water and lithium batteries react violently when combined, and adding flammable lighter fluid increases the risk.
“If you do this for any amount of time, it’s almost a given that one is going to burn or blow up on you,” he said.
The fires caused by meth labs are violent and can easily reignite. For this reason, he told residents to never touch suspected meth products — but to call police.
State police Cpl. William Link said the best way to combat meth usage is with awareness and rehabilitation.
“There’s no way we’ll be able to arrest our way out of this,” he said.
He said the meth users become addicted quickly.
“They don’t want to be using, but they’re stuck,” he said.
Twin Lakes rehabilitation center representatives and Meyersdale Borough and Summit Township police also spoke at the event.