You have possibly seen the face of meth in the news or on the internet. It is a gaunt, unhealthy face, with sunken eyes and straggly hair. It seems to be becoming the face of many people in small towns and rural areas, where there is a lack of jobs and high unemployment. To make ends meet, some people have two or more jobs, and end up using meth to keep themselves awake from their shift on one job, to their next shift on another job. Others use it so that they don’t have to face what is happening in their lives.
Epidemic in small towns
One town like this is Olewein, Iowa, which is a rural community of about 6,000 people who are trying to make ends meet with low-paying jobs. While unemployment rates continued to rise, a meth epidemic spread around them. Some people manufacture and sell meth as a home-based business, while others become addicted. The meth epidemic led to increasing crime, domestic abuse, child neglect, and all of the other social ills that infect a town when meth is allowed to take control of its residents. The situation in Oelwein became so bad, that people started calling it “Methlehem.”
When the “Combat Meth” Act was passed, it required that pseudoephedrine, a major ingredient in the manufacture of meth, be put behind the counter in pharmacies. The number of meth labs fell after that, but desperation made meth manufacturers to find other ingredients. And unfortunately, people have come up with ways to make small batches of meth with simple equipment. Many methamphetamine laboratories now are small-scale operations known as “One Pot” or “Shake and Bake” labs.
They can make less than 2 ounces at a time in about 30 minutes by mixing or shaking ingredients in containers like 20 ounce plastic soda bottles. Because they are portable, meth makers can transport these containers in their car. These plastic bottles are now sometimes discarded and found on the side of the road. They may contain toxic or flammable chemicals, and police warnings now say that if you find a discarded soda bottle with an unknown substance in it, report it to the police.
Danger to kids
Many times, when life has beaten someone down repeatedly, and they begin to lose hope, drugs like meth start to seem like a way to push all of that away, and feel better foe a little while. Unfortunately, it is just for a little while, and then all that stuff they are avoiding drops right back down on them. The cycle of abuse just goes down hill from there. It leads to criminal acts to support the habit. It leads to violence and domestic problems in the home.
Kids are now growing up with meth-head parents (and not all of them survive). Meth harms and endangers children in ways that you might not be aware of. One problem is that meth manufacturing has become a major home-based business. People make meth both to use and to sell. This puts children that may be present in harm’s way. First, the children may contact the meth itself, which is obviously dangerous.
But kids can also be harmed by the chemicals used to manufacture meth, such as sodium hydroxide, red phosphorous, sulfuric acid, lithium, aluminum hydride, chloroform, alcohols, ethers, and acetone. Some of these chemicals can be directly absorbed through the skin. In fact, one report shows that about 55% of children removed from home-based meth labs test positive for toxic levels of chemicals in their bodies!