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.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

County Board hears of meth's dangers (Duluth, Minnesota)

Severe health and behavioral disorders are among the reactions people suffer by using the illegal drug methamphetamine, Douglas County Board supervisors heard from experts Thursday.

Det. Mike Miller of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department's narcotics bureau provided information about the highly addictive drug -- including how and where it's made, its contents, how it affects a person's body, who is using it and how usage is increasing in the county.

Made of such dangerous chemicals as lye, ammonia, ether, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner and engine-starting fluid, methamphetamine creates a long-lasting and potent high. But meth destroys dopamine receptors in the brain, making it impossible to feel pleasure. Over time, more and more of the drug is needed to create the euphoric feeling. According to Miller, users get a rush within 5-30 minutes that usually lasts for 4-16 hours.

In comparison, a cocaine high generally lasts 20-30 minutes and typically is much more expensive.

"You get more bang for you buck with meth; it's that potent," he said. "It's metabolized very slowly through a body. It takes several days for a dose to be eliminated."

Users then "binge" on the drug to try and maintain the high. This can last 3-15 days. Soon after, Miller said, the body can't take much more since the user is anxious, hyper and isn't sleeping. This is called "tweaking."

Within 1-3 days users come down hard, which is known as "crashing." They sleep for days and, in some cases, have someone nearby to wake them up to eat or go to the bathroom because they won't do it on their own.

Two to 14 days later, they begin feeling normal again. Withdrawal follows 30-90 days after the last hit. Miller said quitting the drug is difficult, in part because withdrawal takes so long.

For example, a user may be court-ordered for a 30-day treatment program, but withdrawal doesn't begin until the end of the stay.

"We have not had much success helping people get off meth, and this is one of the reasons," he said.

Another reason is the person's mood. Because the person's levels of dopamine -- a brain chemical -- are altered, the person feels like they are in a gray zone. Meth, they think, is the only way to escape.

"People may have to be medicated for the rest of their life just to feel normal," Miller said, adding it takes years before dopamine levels reach healthy numbers. "Your brain after meth addiction will not go back to normal. It may get better, but not normal."

Overall, fewer than 5 percent of meth users recover, he said.

Meth also transforms the user into a different person. Users become delusional, violent, paranoid, stop eating and won't sleep. Miller said he has been accused by users of spying on them by hiding in trees or following them in hang gliders.

Supervisor Bean Prettie, manager of the Anchor Inn, said more and more meth users are coming to the tavern. She questioned how employees should deal with them since they can anger quickly.

"We don't know how to handle them," she said. "They can turn in a second."

Users also begin to hallucinate, seeing insects crawling under their skin, for instance. They pick at the area and create sores. The meth also causes an increase in body temperature, heart and blood pressure rates, nausea, shaking and stroke.

"It doesn't just damage the body, it actually tortures the body," Miller said. "It changes you completely."

Known as crystal, speed, ice and crank, meth is primarily manufactured in Mexico, then transported to the Twin Cities for distribution in northern Wisconsin. Miller said meth use is high in rural areas. Polk, St. Croix and Barron counties also are seeing high numbers of meth use. And the drug is not discriminating -- users come in all ages from preteen to middle age.

The spike in meth use in Douglas County is putting added pressure on law enforcement and health and human services. Rhoda Nagorski, intake and assessment supervisor for the child protection division, said her office is dealing with meth-related cases every day.

"People who are using meth are living pretty violent lifestyles," she said. "There are often weapons in the home, pornography in the home. We have to be careful about sending a case worker into a home where a person is suspicious and violent."

Miller said he also has seen cases where family members share the habit, an oddity because with other drugs children try to keep their habit from their parents and vice versa.

"There are really no boundaries for it," Miller said. "It's scary."

He urged supervisors to watch for suspicious activity or grouping of meth-making chemicals or equipment. He recommended people not approach a meth lab or equipment because breathing the chemicals can damage the lungs or cause even worse health problems.

Anyone with information concerning meth may contact Miller at (715) 395-1537.

"The information is appreciated because it lets us do our job better," he said.


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Friday, February 03, 2012 9:22:00 PM  

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