The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 19, 2013

Methamphetamine awareness | Program will educate public about drug

The Tribune-Democrat

— It’s a substance that is highly addictive, toxic and inexpensive.

Methamphetamine already is in our backyard and its use is on the rise.

The drug and what it can do to an otherwise rational person are frightening. The fact that it is becoming harder and harder to detect make it even more dangerous.

We certainly can understand if Meyersdale-area residents are concerned with what the drug is doing to their communities. After all, three drug arrests have been made there recently with two alleged meth labs and another “dump site” having been found.

So we applaud the decision to host a Methamphetamine Community Awareness Event at

6:30 p.m. May 29 at Meyersdale Area High School. The event, which is being hosted by the Pennsylvania State Police in conjunction with the Somerset Single County Authority for Drug and Alcohol and Somerset County Drug Free Communities, is a free program. It is designed to educate parents, teachers, landlords and community members on the warning signs of meth manufacturing and abuse.

In the past, meth labs could be detected by the noxious smells that they produced along with the drug. But Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Dennis Ulery, who will be the program’s main presenter, said the fumes – which are similar to a strong smell of cat urine – are no longer a reliable indicator.

“The way they’re cooking it now, there’s really no smell that gives off that would go anywhere past where they’re at,” Ulery said.

The ingredients needed to cook meth are easily attainable, which means that getting it off the streets can be difficult. Unlike other drugs such as cocaine or heroin, it does not need to be imported from other countries.

Meth, which is known by a number of other names, including speed, chalk, ice and crank, can be smoked, snorted, orally ingested or injected.

The Meth Project’s website says the drug’s adverse health effects include “memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, heart damage, malnutrition and severe dental problems.”

Meth use can lead to “feelings of euphoria followed by a ‘crash’ that often leads to increased use of the drug and eventually to difficulty feeling any pleasure at all, especially from natural rewards,” according to the website.

That must be a horrible way to go through life, with the drug robbing its users of any pleasure outside of its use.

Erin Howsare, director of Somerset County’s drug and alcohol authority, has seen the drug’s popularity skyrocket.

“We already have four times the number of people (coming) into our treatment office (compared with) last year,” she told our Justin Dennis. “If it’s not in Cambria County yet, I’m assuming it will get there.”

So far, Cambria County hasn’t seen that kind of spike, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t – or that its residents couldn’t benefit from the meeting in Meyersdale.

We urge readers to attend the Meyersdale event. Whether it is to become more informed about the drug or find out how to get treatment for a meth user, the knowledge gained in Meyersdale could help save a life.

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