childMethamphetamine is known to be a dangerous illegal drug. Many people have become addicted to and harmed by meth, with some losing their lives. Families and communities have been harmed by the effects of meth in many ways. Teenagers (and in some cases, even younger kids) have used meth and been harmed by it.

Meth is a highly addictive psychoactive stimulant that causes an extremely euphoric high, followed by a “crash” that causes depression, irritability, insomnia, nervousness, and paranoid aggressive behaviors. Meth can be smoked, inhaled, or injected, and the effects are long lasting (10-12 hours). Some women view it as a readily available, inexpensive appetite suppressant and energy enhancer (and it doesn’t help that the internet and scandal magazines continue to promote the image that all women must be abnormally thin, to be attractive).

Dangers to kids

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!

These chemicals used to manufacture meth are highly toxic, corrosive, and/or flammable. In fact, in some areas in California, one in six labs are found because of fire or explosion. So we can add another danger to kids from meth: incineration. In some states the manufacturing of meth is legally categorized as an “inherently dangerous felony” because of these dangers. In addition, many of the chemicals used in meth production are restricted by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, which require that hazardous materials teams clean up meth lab sites.

Reports indicate that at least five pounds of toxic waste are generated for every pound of meth produced. This waste gets dumped in backyards, dumpsters, storm drains, parks, or along roadsides and farm fields, where it is a source of long-lasting and toxic pollution. Over 2,800 children were involved with meth lab incidents across the US in 2004, with California removing 356 children from home-based meth labs, and those children were typically under 5 years old.

Poor family environment

The family environment of these “meth kids” is not great, either. Besides the dangers from meth production, these kids suffer from domestic violence, neglect, malnutrition, and the criminal activities of their parents. What impact does it have on these kids when armed people come through their door, demanding drugs or money from their parents? Not quite the happy little 1950’s nuclear family!

Then there are the actual physical effects of exposure to meth, and the chemicals it’s made from. Meth can cause psychosis, seizures, and death from accidental ingestion. Exposure to the meth chemicals can include poisoning, burns, and lung irritation; damage to the liver, kidneys, heart, brain, and immune system; cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia; bone marrow suppression resulting in anemia and increased risk of infections; and developmental and growth problems. This is some nasty stuff to expose small children to.

Meth is bad news. Many people struggle with addiction, but we need to remember that it can have some consequences that we don’t normally think about.