Just how bad is this “epidemic” caused by smoking methamphetamine, also known as ice, and what is it doing to island communities?
The most obvious consequences from this problem can be seen through the number and types of arrests for ice-related offenses.
From arrests for possession to manufacturing and everything in between, methamphetamine is the scourge of the community, agree Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste, administrators and investigators with the Kaua’i Police Department, substance-abuse counselors, and members of the community at large.
For the first nine months last year, Kaua’i Police Department officers made 163 arrests for possession of drugs and weapons, and seized over 1,400 grams of ice, and substantial amounts of cash believed to be exchanged in drug deals, according to KPD statistics.
There are also some less-obvious consequences of smoking methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine can cause users to have permanent loss of the ability to make consistently healthy decisions on their own behalf.
What does that mean?
It can mean the difference between making a decision to leave the children alone at home without supervision and realizing that they are too young, at 2 years old, to care for themselves.
This may sound like it is no big deal, since the neighbors are home.
The problem is that it becomes a big deal when the affects of smoking methamphetamine cause a person to become so paranoid that they believe they have to sneak out of the house so that nobody knows what they are doing, especially the neighbors.
During interviews with methamphetamine smokers, often times counselors hear them say that it is OK to drive an unregistered vehicle without a driver’s license or insurance.
Methamphetamine users do not think that a decision to drive under the influence of drugs so that they can buy more drugs is a problem. A decision to gamble with public safety is the last thing on what is left of their minds.
Research has shown that methamphetamine smokers will abandon the most essential basic needs, such as personal hygiene and nutrition, so that they can continue to experience the chemical-induced euphoria associated with smoking methamphetamine.
Only the surface has been scratched in terms of prevention and education. The more information that is available to members of the public about the consequences of methamphetamine, the more effective professionals can be in finding ways to stop the methamphetamine epidemic.
The less obvious affects of smoking methamphetamine mentioned here, making healthy decisions and family and public safety, are just two of many.
A decision to intentionally refer to ice by its chemical name, “methamphetamine,” presents it in a different light.
If one hears the chemical name and what that chemical is also used for, it might just heighten his or her awareness of another of the real issues.
A chemical, acetone, is often used to make methamphetamine. The U.S. Marine Corps used acetone to clean jet engines at one time. That’s right. The C-130s, F-4s, A-6s, and all the rest, were given liberal doses of acetone, a flammable liquid that is also deadly if ingested. There are no two ways about it.
Acetone by itself would remove all of the exhaust residue built up on a jet engine.
Imagine smoking something made with the same product that can clean a jet engine. The next time you notice a plane flying, ponder this.
If that engine was cleaned with acetone and someone you know is smoking methamphetamine, what is the potential for permanent damage to the body?
One thing that must be kept in the forefront in addressing the problems associated with methamphetamine is that it is just one member of the “junk of the month” club.
Alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy and opioids such as codeine and vicodin, are problems in their own rights.
Education and community development are two tried-and-true effective methods used to address social problems.
Remember that change is a process, not an event.
- Jimmy Cathey may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.