To the Editor:
After the arrest of Gary Smith for making methamphetamine, I got to thinking about the ramifications of the increase in use of meth in our county.
The dangers and destructive forces of meth, such as exposure to hazardous waste, explosions and ruined lives, have been widely publicized, however some of the most devastating effects are to the innocent. Those are the children who are unfortunate enough to have a parent who cooks meth and/or uses it. These children are meth’s silent victims.
For the children whose parents are addicted to meth, a life of neglect often is the case. Meth is so addictive that parents often disregard their own hygiene, and certainly are too consumed with their addiction to care properly for their own children. Children of meth addicts often are malnourished, exhibit behavioral problems, or are burned in a meth lab explosion. There also have been cases where children who may be unsupervised for long periods of time have unknowingly overdosed on meth left out by their parents.
Children who reside in or near meth labs are at greater risk of being harmed by the toxic environment. The fumes from cooking meth are so noxious that they can cause a host of medical problems including lung, kidney and brain damage; respiratory problems, eye and skin irritations and birth defects. Even exposure to low levels of meth chemicals can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness and fatigue.
Children of meth users also are at a higher risk of becoming orphans. Long-term meth users are more susceptible to illness and have a higher incident of kidney failure, lung disorders, strokes, liver damage and heart problems. Organs are weakened and poisoned. Meth users are candidates for premature death from either drug use or meth lab explosions.
Even without the risk of death, the parents run the risk of imprisonment for their illegal drug activities. As a result, their children would be removed from their homes and placed in foster care.
We as citizens and residents of Letcher County must realize that everyone is a victim, either directly or indirectly, of this horrible outlaw drug. This gives all of us the right and responsibility to stand up to this drug of destruction.
I, as county attorney, want to suggest ways to help stop the spread of meth to our county, and to protect our silent victims.
Protect your neighborhoods.
Report to law enforcement suspicious behavior in your neighborhood: people coming and going from a home at odd times, unusual strong odors (like cat urine, ether, ammonia, acetone or other chemicals), excessive trash including large amounts of items such as antifreeze containers, lantern fuel cans, red chemically stained coff ee filters, drain cleaner and duct tape.
To report suspicious activities in your neighborhood you may call UNITE Drug Tip Hotline: 1-866-424-4382; Kentucky State Police: 1-606-435-6069; Letcher County Sheriff Danny Webb: 606- 633-2293.
Educate our children about the
devastating effects of meth.
The old saying ‘one picture is worth a thousand words’ when it comes to the devastating effect of meth, is certainly true. I have personally used pictures of meth addicts in teaching my grandchildren about the dangers of meth. You can get a ton of information from the following web sites such as: www.methfreetn.org/ downloadsl.php, or: www. drugfree.org/Portal/DrugIssue/ MethResources/faces/photo6. html.
Be alert to indicators that
friends and family may be using
Insomnia, noise sensitivity, nervous physical activity such as scratching, irritability, lack of appetite, weight loss, tremors, high heart rate and blood pressure, dry gray skin, tooth decay, and/or abnormally high energy level.
Where to get help if you are
Unite Treatment Referral Line: 1-866-908-6484, National Information Help Line: 1-877-254-3348.
The best way to fight the spread of methamphetamine in Letcher County is to stop it before it gets a hold on our citizens. Let’s all help protect silent victims, our children.
HAROLD D. BOLLING
Letcher County Attorney