Q&A Tuesday – Anti-drug advocate: Meth use affects allPhoto:3923454,left; | NevadaAppeal.com

Q&A Tuesday – Anti-drug advocate: Meth use affects allPhoto:3923454,left;

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Pauline Kiser, right, executive director of the Community Council on Youth, has been with the agency for five years. One of the council's missions is to keep youth drug free.

Pauline Kiser is the executive director of Community Council on Youth. The youth council works to reduce the risks that lead to unhealthy behaviors, including substance use and violence. CCOY is a member of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, a national association that provides its members with the most up-to-date trends in substance use in the nation. Their job is to know what the current drugs of choice are in Carson City and what the most effective means of prevention are relative to those drugs.

What is methamphetamine?

Meth is a synthetic drug that is manufactured or “cooked” in laboratories. Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system.

Where is meth manufactured and distributed?

Meth is manufactured in laboratories, which can be elaborate or simple, including the back seat or trunk of a car. Most of the meth used in Carson City is manufactured in California and Mexico in “super labs.” The labs that are functioning in and around Carson City are small scale – cooking small amounts, a few grams at a time. The distribution varies, as meth is sold to dealers who sell to users. According to the Tri-Net Narcotic Task Force, Carson City is a hub for distribution.

How much does meth cost on the street?

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Depending on who the customer is, an ounce of meth can cost between $700 and $1,200. An ounce is then broken down and sold by grams. There are about 28 grams in an ounce. A gram can cost about $100.

Who is using methamphetamine?

Meth knows no boundaries. In recent years, meth users have crossed all racial, gender and socioeconomic lines. Middle school students use meth, college students use meth, as well as professionals and the unemployed. We can’t combat meth use by targeting one specific population. Meth users are as young as 12 and even younger children are exposed to meth daily by virtue of living with parents, relatives or guardians who use or cook.

How does the drug affect users overall?

Since meth is an amphetamine, through its stimulant effects, it produces a positive feeling, but when it wears off it leaves a person with the opposite feelings. This is because of the suppression by the drug of the normal production of adrenaline. To achieve that feeling again, the user will ingest again, leading to addiction. Meth also changes the appearance of your skin and your teeth.

What long-term effects can result?

Studies show that long after use or recovery from the addiction, meth users have chemical changes to their brains that inhibit its normal function. Meth damages brain cells, resulting in decreased levels of dopamine, which can lead to Parkinson disease-like symptoms. There are also sexual side effects to long-term meth use.

What are some signs that a person may be using the drug?

Meth users, referred to as “tweakers,” are known for repetitive activities, including tying and untying their shoes nonstop (sometimes for hours); repeatedly picking at scabs (to the point of abscess); excessive teeth grinding and being in a generally agitated state.

What other problems does methamphetamine pose to society?

The manufacture of meth is toxic and extremely dangerous to a community. Not only does it pose health risks for our emergency responder personnel and law enforcement officers, it poses dangers to unknowing purchasers of homes that may have housed a lab, trash collectors, and landlords as well as the damage existing labs can do to surrounding property values. The dangers of meth are far-reaching and affect the whole community, whether you are user, know a user, or are just trying to live a happy, clean life in what you believe to be your safe, healthy neighborhood.

How is the production of meth more dangerous than other drugs?

Meth production uses a lethal combination of legal chemicals. Meth production is an environmental hazard and causes toxic waste. The only time this waste is properly handled is when a meth lab is busted and a haz mat team cleans it up. If a “cook” just moves sites, the harmful chemicals and fumes of past production are left behind for the next owner or tenant.

What are the telltale signs of a meth lab in my neighborhood?

Any drug activity in a neighborhood can be identified by heavy traffic in and out of a home, especially short visits at late hours. Also, notice your neighbors’ trash. If you notice empty containers of drain cleaner, discolored coffee filters (sometimes red from use of medicines containing ephedrine); rock salt or acetone, you should be suspicious. Also, watch for behavior changes by your neighbors, employees/employers, family members or peers. As always, any time you suspect illegal activity in your neighborhood, you should contact the Sheriff’s Department.

Where can abusers get help?

There are a number of treatment and support services available in and around Carson City. Students can seek help from their guidance counselors or a trustworthy adult, who in turn, will find them the appropriate services.

Although we do not provide direct services, CCOY has resources and tools to promote prevention of substance use and it is our job to find community members the help they need. The public should feel free to call us at 841-4730. CCOY has been examining meth use specifically in Carson City for more than a year and we will work together to find the appropriate services.

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