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, February 07, 2006

Officer Todd Priebe column: Dangers of meth labs to children physical, emotional, psychological (Wisconsin)

Last week I focused on the physical dangers faced by children who live within a meth lab. This week I'll expand on abuse, social problems, signs of exposure and what caregivers can do.

So what is it like in a home where meth is being used and produced? Picture an eight-year-old child never enrolled in school, being used as a punching bag, sexually abused, hungry and in the need of medical and dental care. If you think I've made this up, there's enough documentation through the United States to support this claim. The home environment is often chaotic, headed by bad role models who fail to supervise and care for the children.

Most often, children suffer from severe, chronic physical and emotional neglect that can cause irreversible physiological and psychological damage. These children end up being a life-long burden on the public mental health systems.

Behavioral, emotional and cognitive functioning are affected by high levels of stress and trauma, which are a constant presence in a home producing meth. Children are often found to have poor social skills, a sense of shame and low self-esteem.

Many children in this environment have no emotional bond to the parent or a caring adult. This is displayed by the inability to trust or form healthy relationships.

Some consequences to all of this are mental health problems, failure in school, teen pregnancy, poor school attendance, isolation and poor peer relations. What is often seen is a perpetuating cycle of drug use.

Everyone knows of our shrinking resources. Now add increased demands on foster homes and adoption programs as parents fail to care for their children. What ends up happening is social workers are forced to place the children in homes of relatives, some of whom are also using meth.

Symptoms teachers, day-care staff and others should be on the watch for:

Watery eyes, discharge from eyes, blurred vision, eye pain, including burning;

Skin irritation and redness, mild to severe burns; sneezing and coughing; labored breathing, shortness of breath;

Chest pain, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, moderate to severe headache;

Rapid heart rate, dark colored urine, fever, decrease in mental status;

Yellow jaundice, hallucinations, extreme irritability, severe neglect

If you have knowledge or suspect a child is exposed to a meth lab, notify police.

Do not take action yourself. There are procedures in place to combat a meth lab because of the dangers involved. Children who are rescued from methamphetamine labs are bathed immediately to remove traces of chemicals, given contaminant-free clothing and fed.

Any information provided from a child about the production of methamphetamine needs to be passed on to law enforcement


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