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Recognizing Methamphetamine Use

Greg Ferency / SWAT Digest

When a drug like methamphetamine (“meth”) hits an area, all rules are thrown out the window. Meth use and abuse will ultimately result in delinquent and criminal behavior, often in the form of secondary crimes to fuel the use/addiction. Families are usually the first victims out of convenience, but after awhile, general crime (including violent offenses) will be the end result. As a narcotics detective I regularly receive calls from frantic parents who think their kids are under the control of meth. I ask them what they are seeing (and hearing) to make them believe that. They give me a quick run down of their observations and in less than a minute I can tell them “yes, it sounds like meth has entered your world.” Had they taken the time to learn a few simple signs of meth use/abuse early on, they might have been able to intervene before their child’s addiction kicked in.

It is important to realize that unlike the paraphernalia associated with “club drugs” such as ecstasy, which are related to maximizing the high itself, meth paraphernalia is associated with the ingestion of the drug. Here are a few examples of the same: Meth is sold and transported in corner cut plastic bags. This is exactly what it sounds like, the corners cut off plastic sandwich bags. They are in the shape of a triangle. Don’t believe the excuse that they are for a stamp collection. Garbage bag twist ties cut in halves or thirds are used to contain, open and close the corner cut plastic bags. Hollowed out ink pens and straws cut in half or thirds are used for snorting or smoking meth. Strips of aluminum foil (may be creased down the middle) are used to smoke meth. The drug is placed in the crease and a heating source (flame) placed under the foil. When the meth evaporates, it is sucked into the lungs with the hollowed out pen or straw. You find these strips of foil rolled into balls. Hollow glass tubes, chipped or melted on one end (may have bulb at the end) are used for smoking meth. Meth is placed at one end of the tube and smoked through the other. Used glass tubes will have burn residue at one end. Don’t believe that it is being used to smoke marijuana. Light bulbs with internal pieces taken out are also modified for this purpose. It will have a chipped or melted hole on top of the bulb.

When used, burn residue will be obvious. Syringes are indicative of hard-core meth use. Medical science knows this is the most proficient way to get a drug in the body and so do users. Spoons are used to melt meth in water prior to injection. Again, look for burn residue. Small pieces of cotton or cigarette filters are used to filter the meth/water solution for injection. Meth melts at a fairly low temperature and most of the cutting agents remain solid. This helps ensure the user is getting more meth than “cut.” Torch lighters are popular as a heating source to smoke and inject meth. They work a little better than standard lighters.

These are just some of the paraphernalia associated with methamphetamine use/abuse, but not all. Parents must learn to recognize them. Many of the parents that I speak to tell me they saw these items long before they knew their child had a problem. But they did not know what they were until I told them. Had they known, they may have been able to intervene before they were forced to make contact with me, which was usually the result of a negative incident that happened to their child either as a suspect or victim of a crime.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 1 year ago


    i have a question. What is more harmful to the body and mind the meth itself or cuts the scumbags put in it

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    I have no doubts that this drug leaves deep marks on communities, it's too bad that it's devastating effects often gets us by surprise, we should never underestimate the real effects of meth use. I read some real facts about the drug on this California drug rehabilitation resource, people should know already that meth is all about bad news.

  • Cot_max50


    about 7 years ago


    pretty good reminder article

  • Dsc_3801_max160_1__max50


    about 7 years ago


    informative but lacking

  • -paxp-deijejanuary2012bingoforhomelessfamiliesutahcyberslutsorg_max50


    about 7 years ago


    I NEVER FORGET: the many brave Law Enforcement and first responders still sick and dieing from past meth lab exposures. They are one of my inspirations to try to make this state a better place to live in. To my stepsister: I am glad you are with us after almost losing your kids, and all the crime and incarceration time you did. To Bill, may god bless, I am sorry you couldn't deal with meth withdrawal and commited suicide. To Anita in Ogden Utah, I hope you get your kids back someday, you were doing so good for a long time.

  • -paxp-deijejanuary2012bingoforhomelessfamiliesutahcyberslutsorg_max50


    about 7 years ago


    This is consistent of what I know about meth and meth addiction in Utah. Here it is extremely popular and a common mixture occurs with sexual activity outside of marriage. I have seen lots of it destroy lives here for many years, it is the worst of all drug addictions and seems to be super fast from recreational to it destroyed someones life. The GLBT communtiy which I am a part of has ongoing issues with it nationwide. The term PNP is used in online and phone line dating and that refers to meth cocaine heroin usage PARTY N PLAY! This drug has so far killed one friend due to suicide, and ruined the lives of many people that I know.
    The ONLY advice to parents with this drug is it is much more vicious of a downward spiral than anything I have ever witnessed. THE DETERRENCE must occur this is not recreational usage ever! There is no such recreational usage! The weirdest usage of meth I ever saw was a friend now living in Texas who used it dissolved in clear sodas. It supposedly slows it down and regulates the high. This drug is now going on more than 10 years of popularity in Utah, and this state was one of the original Meth Takeover States. The DEA and the local cops have removed most of the meth labs that previously were in homes. I STILL TRIBUTE the many brave souls in Law Enforcement sick and dieing from METH LAB EXPOSURE! My prayers go out to you! I hate all meth dealers GLBT and Straight equally, they are the lowest scumbags on the planet.
    -In Utah Women have the 3rd Highest Methamphetamine usage rates in the Nation. We jokingly call them super soccer moms, and finally the Drug Deterrence ads actually appeared on television. Apparently the regular tv channels thought the DOJ drug deter ads were a little too much for mild mannered family viewing, I would rather in my opinion not see the evergrowing population of new drug addicts!

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