Acetone, anhydrous ammonia, hydrochloric acid, lithium, red phosphorous, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, toluene.
Human beings have made a long list of products from those chemicals, including nail polish remover, paint thinner, fertilizer, pool supplies, batteries, road flares, lye, drain cleaner, brake cleaner and methamphetamine.
An undercover vice officer holds a 1-ounce bag of crystal methamphetamine, also known as “Ice,” and a used “ice” pipe the was found during a raid Aug. 1, 2003, in Hilo, Hawaii. The home that was raided is on the same street as the Hilo police department
In addition to the common cold medicine ingredient pseudoephedrine, various chemicals are used to make meth, which can be manufactured in a variety of ways.
But whether meth is made with a corrosive lye or a solvent like toluene, it is one of the nastiest things on the planet that people put in their bodies.
Although New York has been largely spared by the meth scourge that has ravaged the Midwest, local police have reported a handful of meth arrests in recent months. This is cause for concern, because meth is both powerfully addictive and astonishingly destructive.
The television show “Breaking Bad” has given the methamphetamine scene a gilding it doesn’t deserve. For a clear-eyed look at meth, visit the website of the Montana Meth Project (montana.methproject.org), which was started in 2005, when half of the state’s inmates were incarcerated on meth charges and half of the state’s foster care admissions were tied to meth.
In 2005, Montana ranked No. 5 in the nation for meth abuse. Eight years later, Montana ranks 39th and teen meth use and meth-connected crime have declined by more than 60 percent.
The Meth Project’s statewide campaign, using advertising across all media, has been effective. Some of their TV spots, along with educational material on meth and a film focusing on the lives of meth addicts, can be seen on the website.
The site has a graphic, illustrated film of how meth works in the synapses of the brain, exciting euphoria, then deadening a users’ ability to feel pleasure. Even that film is frightening.
Use meth and you’re tinkering with the fundamental chemistry of your brain. Serious and sometimes permanent damage results.
Montana activists reacted after meth already wreaked havoc in the state. New Yorkers would do well to aim for preventing a disaster rather than reacting to one.
Numerous meth busts have already taken place just north of our region, in Clinton and Franklin counties. Local police officers, who have received training in recognizing and handling meth-related crimes, expect use of the drug to increase.
The police may be ready for meth, but our local communities are not. We’d like to see local organizations that focus on drug abuse and teen issues turn their attention to this threat.
Fortunately, no one has to start from scratch in fighting meth, because the Montana Meth Project has established a template for action and has numerous resources that can be tapped. Seven other states have Meth Project affiliates now.
Montana Meth Project has been recognized worldwide for its emphasis on empowering young people to make smart decisions. Barron’s, the national financial newspaper, recently named it the third most effective philanthrophy in the world.
The Meth Project takes a grassroots approach, encouraging teens to educate themselves and spread the message
among their peers. Young people organized the largest teen demonstration in Montana’s history, the March Against Meth. The project sponsors the Paint the State art contest, in which thousands of people paint public murals with anti-meth messages.
Most effectively, the website answers any questions you could have about methamphetamine, through films, graphic illustrations, personal testimonials and science. The information isn’t sensationalized, but it’s horrifying nonetheless. The ghoulish appearance of meth addicts — the rotting teeth and skin lesions — is bad enough, but the damage done to brains and nervous systems is worse.
“Breaking Bad” can be a thrilling show, but the reality of meth use reminds us more of “The Walking Dead,” as addicts descend into a putrid existence fixated on a single desire — getting more meth.
Maybe our luck will hold locally, but it’s worth spending some time and effort to improve our odds. We should do everything we can now, before meth gets here, to keep it out.