Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Meth is still out there, still lethal

Post by Brian O'Neill on Jan. 31, 2013 at 7:58 am with 4 Comments »
January 31, 2013 7:59 am

I remember walking through knee-length grass, trying to avoid sharp metal objects scattered around the yard. As  I approached to knock on the door of the dilapidated trailer, I almost gagged on the noxious odor spewing out.

It was either the stench of a hundred cats urinating at the same time or else it was a meth lab. Of course it was a meth lab.

That was in a different era, the mid-90s when methamphetamine was the new “it” drug and Pierce County was the center of the meth universe. (Note: If you somehow missed it, I recommend picking up a copy of The King of Methlehem, a novel that accurately depicts the “tweaker culture.” It was written by Mark Lindquist, a gifted novelist who also moonlights as our elected prosecutor).

The landscape has changed since then. Like so many other homegrown industries, meth production was outsourced to Mexico, where cheap labor, minimal regulations and a corporate (and extremely criminal) distribution system moves it around the world with maximum efficiency.

Pierce County Clandestine Lab Team/ courtesy
Pierce County Clandestine Lab Team/ courtesy

NAFTA may not have contributed to the offshoring of meth, but other market forces, such as aggressive enforcement, a statute limiting access to precursor chemicals (that’s why you now need I.D. to purchase sudafed) and the courageous efforts of clandestine meth lab teams. All were factors that helped push production out of our region.

Though the diminished number of meth labs has lessened the risk of dangerous explosions, meth is still cheap, easily obtainable and, it would appear, here to stay. It is a very, very poisonous and addictive drug, and its dangers are not limited to those foolish enough to try it.

A recent Trib article reported the results of an autopsy conducted on a two-year-old Spanaway boy, which concluded that his death was due to methamphetamine toxicity. How this toddler came into contact with methamphetamine is now part of an ongoing investigation into his parents’ activities.

Why the lengthy harangue against the evils of methamphetamine? It may seem unnecessary, like constantly pointing out the dangers of drinking and driving. After all, most of us have seen the images associated with meth addicts, including the time lapsed booking photos where young people grow old and wasted in a few short years. That stuff must really be bad, we tell ourselves before moving on without another thought.

When these images, stats and stories become so prevalent we no longer even register them in our minds, the problem is obviously our own complacency. That is why the news that a small boy died because his parents likely chose to bring a poisonous substance into their home was relegated to a tiny, interior section of the paper suitably entitled, “In brief.”

Perhaps in some distant future there will be a cure for addicts enslaved to dangerous drugs like methamphetamine. In the meantime, we should never forget just how destructive these substances are, both to the users and to the broader community which must deal with drug-related theft, robbery and violence, not to mention the exorbitant price of incarceration and treatment.

And then there are the small victims, whose lives are cut short because they were born into a home where meth was more important than they were. For them we need to do more than just remember. We need to act.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. Meth causes a massive symptom upsurge in schizophrenics
    and people with bipolar disorder. Could this be used to
    punish people who mostly stay to themselves? The right wing
    would have their chance to trim the rolls of government programs.

  2. wyecoyote says:

    Anyone still starting the use of Meth really has no one to blame but themselves for what it does to them. Though one could say that with all drugs.

    So what can be done about Meth or any illegal drug to reduce the use of it? Or are we as a society just going to continue to have this problem?

  3. johnnywombat says:

    I lost my sister to meth on Christmas Day 2011 (heart attack) at age 50. She went from an attractive young lady to a wasted husk. Her teeth gapped out and her face turned to leather, deeply lined. She had lost her kids over meth (she was actually cooking in the kitchen! Told the boys she was making “cookies”.) I don’t know what meth looks like. Anyway, she spent a few years off and on in jail over her addiction.

    I also have a meth head across the alley from me (well known to everyone, even police). She’s a nutter. Lost all her teeth and her fingernails are brown. She has an old broken down RV in her backyard and I’ve often wondered if she’s cooking in there.

    So, yeah. I know meth is still around, unfortunately.

  4. elmerfudd says:

    I think the complacency comes from the fact that 95% of us would never do it regardless of the circumstances. We know it’s bad and virtually everyone we know knows it’s bad, so we’re not that worried about it affecting our lives directly.

    Sure, we might have peripheral contact with it, but that’s not quite the same. For most of us meth addicts just join the long list of crack heads, sex offenders, gang members and other undesireables that we do our best to avoid.

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