The Utah Meth Problem
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine (meth, ice, crystal, glass, speed, chalk, or tina) is a highly addictive, man-made drug that stimulates the pleasure section of the brain. Meth has been used as a stimulant for several decades. In more recent years, use has surged as has purity increased resulting in intense highs.
Because meth can be made from common household items, small laboratories can be set up in a variety of locations to make, or "cook," the drug. In Utah, the number of labs has decreased dramatically.
Much of the meth production has shifted to "super labs" in Mexico. However, meth use remains a large problem in Utah. Individuals seeking treatment for meth represent roughly 28 percent of all substance abuse treatment program admissions. Of those in treatment, nearly 75 percent are women and mothers.
Meth affects everyone. Meth is associated with identity theft, abuse, and criminal activity in general. Meth is often a contributing factor to domestic violence, neglect, and abuse of children. Child Protective Services can quickly become overburdened. Additional training and equipment for police, fire, and emergency response personnel cost taxpayer money. Homes and properties contaminated with meth can cost thousands of dollars to clean. Business can lose money from loss of productivity, crimes and illness. HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B & C, and additional dental care for addicts are often associated with meth use.
Drug Endangered Children
Drug Endangered Children (DEC) are those children who are affected physically, psychologically, or emotionally from consequences related to illegal drug use and production. These children often suffer from neglect, hunger, and inadequate medical care. Children may be injured from explosion and exposure to toxic chemicals. Children may experience physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, or otherwise be negatively impacted by the illegal drug use of parents or family.
Many DEC are associated with meth production and use. Children found in clandestine drug labs where meth is being produced are often found by first responders and may require different types of medical response than those found living in a meth use situation. For that reason, the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children and Utah Alliance for Drug Endangered Children have developed protocols for medical response to children in drug manufacturing and drug use situations. The protocols can be found HERE and summarized HERE.