Authorities to discuss warning signs of meth labs at community event
Items seized in a meth lab bust. (Submitted photo / May 13, 2013)
"Last year we had a 40 percent increase statewide and we are on pace with that this year, or possibly ahead of that," he said in a telephone interview.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 96 methamphetamine labs were found in Pennsylvania and 11,210 were found nationally in 2012. Southeastern states have had the most labs discovered.
Ulery will present a program on how meth is "cooked" and the dangers associated with it at 6:30 p.m. May 29 in the Meyersdale Area High School auditorium. Somerset County Drug-Free Communities is coordinating the event because of recent meth lab busts in Meyersdale and Somerset. Other sponsors are the Somerset Single County Authority for Drug and Alcohol, the Twin Lakes Center for Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation and the Pennsylvania State Police. The event is open to the public.
"Methamphetamine is extremely addictive," Ulery said. "The chemicals are easily accessible and it is easy to process — and highly dangerous. The likelihood of a fire or explosion sometime in the person's career of cooking meth is very high. They will burn themselves or burn something down."
One step of the process involves manufacturing a crude hydrogen chloride gas generator. In the final stage of the process, deadly hydrogen chloride gas is present and poses a severe health risk to the person making the methamphetamine and those who live in the same residence or nearby.
At the community meeting, Ulery will explain the warning signs of a nearby meth lab and how people can tell if others are using the synthetic drug.
Erin Howsare, director of the Somerset Single County Authority for Drug and Alcohol, said she is encouraging people to attend the meeting to learn to identify the signs that a meth lab is being operated so they can call the police to take appropriate action.
"We also hope that parents and teachers will be aware of the signs that children may be living in a home where meth is being cooked," she said.
Methamphetamine, known as speed or meth, can cause psychotic behavior, hallucinations and strokes when used over a long period of time. Howsare said that meth users often don't sleep, which can lead to psychosis, and people using or making meth may have open sores on their bodies from chemical burns. Meth use, like other drug use, can lead to additional crimes as the drug user needs money for more drugs. Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Greg Keefer said in an earlier interview that at least 90 percent of crimes committed are linked to drug use.
Ronna Yablonski, prevention coordinator at the Twin Lakes Center, said that there are many problems that communities across Somerset County have to face — drug use and abuse, unfortunately, has to be one of them.
"We cannot ignore the problems that drug use causes to our communities, families, children, schools and businesses," she said. "As concerned citizens of the county, please come and learn all you can about methamphetamine — a very dangerous drug that is having an increasing presence in our county. The more educated the public becomes, the more the problems can be addressed and curtailed."