This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Drug War: An American Epidemic

With the meth epidemic raging, states try limiting access to the ingredients.

To thwart meth production, most states are requiring consumers to sign for cold and allergy medicines.

The Faces of Meth

Theresa Baxter admits that being on meth is the closest thing to being a zombie, a member of the living dead. Baxter’s two mug shots, taken at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland, Oregon, woefully detail the toll that meth takes on the body and soul.

The first picture was taken in 2002, when Baxter was arrested for identity theft and fraud. In the second, taken 21⁄2 years later, the once-attractive brunette now has a road map of deep wrinkles. Baxter looks nothing like her former self. And she is only 42.

• Photo Gallery: The Faces of Meth
About the author
Andrea Neal is an 8th-grade English and history teacher at St. Richard’s School in Indianapolis and an adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review (

By Andrea Neal
Published: January/February 2006
Lt. Ron D. Smith of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department has seen plenty of drug users in his time, but nothing quite like the ones tweaked on meth. In his “sleepy little county” in central California, 40 percent of all arrests are meth-related. The crimes, he says, are getting wackier and wackier.

“Meth actually makes you crazy,” Smith says.

That’s the scariest thing about methamphetamine, an illegal drug that has reached epidemic status across much of the United States. After it invades the central nervous system to achieve its high, meth turns perfectly normal people into psychotics, often violent ones.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan calls methamphetamine “perhaps the most destructive drug ever encountered.”

Crime log entries from coast to coast confirm her assessment. In Nevada County, a meth addict in a psychotic state broke into an elderly woman’s home, inexplicably bearing a can of gasoline, and beat her up. There was no motive. In New Mexico, a man high on meth and alcohol beheaded his 14-year-old son and tossed the head from his van window onto a busy highway. In Cave Junction, Oregon, the parents of a three-month-old were arrested for meth possession and child endangerment. Their baby’s feeding bottle was touching a drug-filled syringe and hypodermic needle that was “loaded up and ready to go,” police said.

Methamphetamine is a brain-damaging drug. A stimulant similar to cocaine, it causes an intense rush when smoked or injected intravenously and a sense of euphoria when used orally or sniffed. The substance, which can be easily made using household chemicals like lye and cold medicine, has been shown to alter brain cells permanently and cause neurological symptoms similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease.

As with similar stimulants, methamphetamine often is used in a “binge and crash” pattern. Eventually, users enter a stage called “tweaking” on the way down from their high. It is then that they are prone to violence, delusions and paranoid behavior. Many believe they are being followed or harassed and “end up taking action against imagined persecution,” Smith explains.

The unpredictable behavior has prompted law enforcement agencies to set special guidelines for officers encountering suspects: Stay seven to ten feet away because moving closer could be perceived as threatening. Don’t shine bright lights at a suspect who could go berserk if blinded.

Considering the risks, it’s hard to imagine why any sane person would choose to use this highly addictive stimulant. Yet sane people by the hundreds have found the temptation irresistible.

Take, for example, the deputy auditor in Evansville, Indiana, who pleaded guilty in October to embezzling nearly $28,000 in taxpayer money. He said he needed the money to buy methamphetamine for a habit that began while he worked 16-hour days processing tax bills.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (the latest available), more than 12.3 million people age 12 and older reported that they had used methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime. That’s up 40 percent from 2000 and 156 percent over 1996. While the cost varies by region, users can expect to spend an average of $100 per gram, or about $25 a “hit.”

“Why would anyone use any illegal drug?” asks Lt. Smith. “I guess you just use it a few times to see what it’s like and it probably makes you feel real good. Then you fall into that common addiction behavior.”

Meth, however, is anything but common. Even heroin seems mild in comparison, Smith says. “A heroin user will shoot up and nod for a while. They’ll steal to support their habit, but they won’t go crazy.”

As if the dangers of ingesting meth aren’t enough, its manufacture in makeshift labs that “cook” its ingredients in an explosive stew poses extreme risk to those present and neighbors.

Economic implications are enormous because of its ripple effect through criminal justice, child welfare, and medical systems. There are more arrests, more trials and more people going to prison, as well as more child protection cases. In addition, police are struggling to find the money to clean up meth sites, which can cost $1,000 a pop if cooking has occurred and disposal specialists are called in. For every pound of methamphetamine produced, five to seven pounds of toxic waste remain, which is often poured into streams and septic systems.


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