Indiana is 2nd in Nation for Meth-related Incidents

By Rachel Martin

September 28, 2011 Updated Sep 28, 2011 at 6:57 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Indiana is ranked 2nd in the Nation for incidents relating to methamphetamine, or “meth.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), there were 11,239 meth-related incidents in 2010. Over 1,200 of those incidents happened in Indiana, with 29 percent occurring in Northeast Indiana, DeKalb and Noble counties especially.

Hoosiers pay nearly $100 million a year in taxes to pay for these incidents. In fact, every time a meth-related arrest is made, it cost $350,000 in clean-up and damages. Many agencies and organizations, like police departments, Child Protective Services, landlords and property owners, chemical labs, and environmental agencies, have to get involved to ensure as much safety as possible around the toxic chemicals. Indiana State Police (ISP) officer, Lt. Lori Petro, said it’s most common in rural areas.

“It has to do with that rural environment. The ingredients are very easy to get. In the rural areas the smells associated with manufacturing aren't detected as they would be in the urban areas,” Lt. Petro said.

Lt. Petro and the Fort Wayne Apartment Association said it’s also common for meth addicts to use in their homes. The potent smell used to make it obvious to detect at-home meth labs, but “cooks” have figured out ingredients and other preparations to reduce the odor. However, Beth Wyatt, Executive Director of the Fort Wayne Apartment Association, said there are ways to detect meth labs.

“One of the ways you can tell there’s possibly a meth lab in progress is by seeing a large quantity of the ingredients used to make meth,” Wyatt said. “If you see a blister pack of medicine or you see some batteries here and there, it may not add up to anything. But if you see a lot of those certain types of items or you see the combination of the items that are needed to make meth. That could be a trigger that something is going on.”

Pseudoephedrine, or cold medicine, is the main ingredient used to make meth. Other ingredients include batteries, matches, camping fuel or starting fluid, nail polish remover, iodine, salts, and heavy duty drain cleaners. Those chemicals are what make meth so highly addictive. Lt. Petro said many addicts have told her they were hooked after their first use.

Meth causes high dopamine levels. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that is responsible for happiness. When the average person eats a meal, dopamine levels reach 150 and after sex 200. For someone on meth, dopamine levels shoot to 1,050—over fives times natural levels.

“I think part of it is because the ingredient to make meth, pseudoephedrine, is very easy to get. Even though it’s behind the counter, meth cooks tend to be able to have access to it. So if a person tries it and they become addicted, the numbers go up and the problem just exacerbates from there,” Lt. Petro said.

Although the smell isn’t as obvious, Lt. Petro and Wyatt said you can still notice an odor either from the person using, or from the home making it. It is especially noticeable in apartment homes.

“The main thing with a meth lab is safety,” Wyatt said. “When it comes down to it, you have a lot of people living in a very dense area. So if you have a meth lab explosion, like with the one pot cooking method, realistically you could hurt a lot of people and have a lot of damage.”

Lt. Petro and Wyatt both agree, the best way to protect yourself from meth, or detect meth labs in your area, is know your surroundings and know your neighbors. Pay attention to any changes in your neighbor’s physical appearance or strange activity or behavior. Bottom line, if you notice anything suspicious, you’re encouraged to call authorities.

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