Meth makers could be cooking on your corner

(file photo/WCIV)

By Natalie

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Meth making holds no boundaries, according to law enforcement and drug treatment experts, which means meth could very well be cooking in a neighborhood near you.

"Your neighbors could be cooking it. We've seen meth labs in expensive homes and low end homes. It just depends. This is one of those drugs that do not have any type of boundaries," Charleston County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Patrick Morris said. "Meth is one of those drugs that cross all races, all age brackets and all economic boundaries."

Lt. Morris is on the bomb squad with Charleston County Sheriff's Office. He's responded to several meth lab seizures while on duty.

"It's generally not hard to make. It's simple to come up with the ingredients," Lt. Morris said.

It's no wonder South Carolina ranks among the top ten states with the highest number of meth lab busts last year. According to an Associated Press report, 265 meth lab seizures took place in S.C. in 2011.

The manufacturing of methamphetamine can be extremely explosive, according to bomb squad member, Lt. Morris.

Besides the risk to the community in which meth is manufactured, the affects of methamphetamine is hazardous to ones physical and mental health.

Chanda Brown is the director of Charleston County's Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, also known as Charleston Center. It's a drug treatment and support facility funded by Charleston County. Brown said meth is highly addictive.

"It can cause rapid heart beat, increased respirations. It can cause insomnia. It increases one's body temperature. It also affects memory loss and mood disturbances," she said.

Brown said meth can also lead to psychosis, paranoia and hallucinations.

"You may notice people with sores on their arms or their skin," Brown said. "We call it 'crank bugs.' Another term for methamphetamine on the street is 'crank' so 'crank bugs' is when they see bugs crawling on their arms and they have those hallucinations, they'll pick at their skin."

Brown says she hasn't seen a lot of meth users come into their facility for treatment. She explains that can mean one of two things.

"There may not be many users in the Lowcountry or they may feel afraid to come in to seek help," she said.

Brown said the Charleston Center can provide users the support they need to let go of the addiction. Investigators too say they need support, from the community. He said there are signs to watch out for.

"Strong chemical smell, that's a big one. Another big one is extra ventilation in the house, extra fans, air conditioners in the window when they have central heating and air. They don't push their trash out, they burn their trash," Lt. Morris said.

Lt. Morris says they rely heavily on the public for tips. If you notice anything unusual in your neighborhood, contact your local law enforcement agency or call Crime Stoppers at (843) 554-1111.

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