SHEPHERDSVILLE - Methamphetamine use and abuse is among the most widespread problems in today’s society. A key task for law enforcement officials is education and awareness of the dangers surrounding meth.
Kentucky State Police trooper Steve Pavey hopes to make young people aware of the growing problem in an attempt to keep them from horrible life situations. He presented a meth awareness program to students at Bullitt Lick Middle School and the Bullitt County Adult and Community Education’s JAG program.
Pavey’s presentation included awareness of various chemicals used in creating meth, along with results of each chemical in the body.
“Meth is highly addictive, 98 percent after their first try are hooked,” he said. “The best thing for them to do is find treatment.”
Pavey discussed meth’s history, telling how soldiers first used it in World War II to stay alert at night. It also made soldiers more violent. In later years motorcycle gangs mass-produced and transported it.
Pavey discussed types of meth, including ‘ice’, also known as crystal meth. He said ice was meth in its purest form and the most prominent type used in the area.
The number of illegal meth labs in Kentucky increased 3,000 percent between 1990 and 1996, Pavey said. He shared numbers from the Koch Crime Institute showing 24 percent of meth users in the US under 18 years of age.
“Young girls have used (meth) as a diet suppressant,” said Pavey. “Young men have used it as a sexual stimulant.”
Despite an increase in younger meth users, Pavey said meth had become a more ‘middle class’ drug, used by citizens of all age and financial levels.
Meth has become an expensive drug, with a street rate of more than $100 for one gram. Pavey said the price was a primary reason for an increase in homemade meth labs.
Pavey shared characteristics of meth users, the most prominent being dilated pupils lasting for several hours.
“If you like having the flu, this is for you,” Pavey said of meth use. “You’ll feel bad. This stuff will kill you. If the drug doesn’t then the chemicals can.”
Pavey showed photographs of various styles of meth packaging along with paraphernalia used during preparation. He noted that meth was snorted, injected, swallowed or smoked, the latter most common in Kentucky.
Other photographs included before and after pictures of meth users, showing the dramatic physical change that can occur in a relatively short time period. Pavey said chronic meth users have a life expectancy of six to seven years.
“Every time you use (meth) it fries some of your brain cells, then it eats away at your body,” he said.
Pavey discussed ‘meth cycles’ for users. The initial rush period from meth use lasts from five to 30 minutes. The high cycle lasts four to 16 hours. The binge cycle ranges from three to 15 days. Soon meth users reach a tweaking cycle which could last anywhere from two to 24 days. Next is a crash cycle from one to three days, followed by a withdrawal period.
Pavey discussed ingredients used in manufacturing meth, including cold tablets, polish remover, ether, charcoal lighter fluid, iodine, sodium metals and lithium. Many household cleaning chemicals were implemented in meth.
Mobile meth labs assist manufacturers in avoiding the law. Mobile labs are transported in buckets and bags, many times in RV trailers. Pavey said mobile labs could be stored in houses, barns or storage facilities. They have also become common in hotel rooms.
“If the (hotel) blows up they don’t care,” he said. “They don’t own it.”
Pavey warned not to touch a meth lab or breathe in fumes if one is discovered.
“Leave it alone and report it to police,” he said. “If you see something like this, don’t mess around with it.”
Pavey said meth labs gave off a strong ether or urine smell. He said people burning trash or taking out large amounts of trash were red flags. Trash with numerous lithium strips from batteries or coffee filters was a warning sign.
The most innocent victims of meth use were the children of users, Pavey said. He mentioned situations where meth was stored in jars that young children drank. He said three percent of children in meth homes tested positive for meth.
“I think this is sick and that everyone on (meth) needs help,” said Pavey. “I don’t want to see anybody even start this. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love my kids. When you grow up and have a child, you’ll understand the love your parents have for you.”
Bullitt Lick principal Scott Hrebicik felt meth was in the news a lot and believed students needed to be aware for their own benefit. He said drug use discovered in school had increased in recent years, but credited much of that number to teachers and staff having more savvy in noticing situations.
“Just because you hear more doesn’t mean there’s more, we’re just more aware of it now,” he said.
Hrebicik said grant funding allowed for testing in local high schools and middle schools, helping parents become more aware of situations.
“Parents are getting educated,” he said. “That’s helping us out. The staff is more diligent. I personally feel like I know more now than I did before.”
Hrebicik felt student education was crucial. Bullitt Lick eighth grader Taylor Ackerman said her teachers discussed drug awareness.
“I’ve learned don’t touch or sniff (meth), to leave it alone,” she said. “It makes you skinny, there are many physical effects.”
Eighth grader Stephanie Owens learned there were many types of meth and how they harmed everyone, especially children.
“It affects everyone around you and it could kill you,” she said.
Sixth graders Darian McDonald and Keturah Hrebicik admitted they didn’t really know about meth prior to Pavey’s presentation.
“I didn’t know you could cook it in your own home,” said Darian. “I thought you had to get it from somebody.”
Keturah learned how strong meth was for first-time users. She was unaware it could be manufactured in hotels. She was upset during Pavey’s presentation by the way children of meth users were treated.
“I learned that if you see a meth lab to stay away and call the police,” she added.