Methamphetamine Georgia’s fastest-spreading illegal drug problem, is taking a mounting toll on children whose parents use the drug or cook it up at home, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says.
In the first article in a series, the paper says that as parents get hooked, kids get trapped in households gone haywire; they are neglected and abused; their schooling suffers; their health is threatened by toxic fumes and explosive chemicals when parents turn kitchens into home-based drug labs.
Georgia police and social service workers struggle to keep up with the drug’s rising popularity and its impact on children.
Horror stories are becoming common. Last month, police found drug-making chemicals beside a 7-month-old boy’s crib northwest of Atlanta. In August, an 8-year-old boy from the Macon area walked into a shed — where police suspect his father was making methamphetamine — and an explosion blew the boy out the door. He was burned over one-quarter of his body.
In recent years, the drug has surged across the state, said Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “It came into Georgia like a tidal wave,” he said. From 1999 to 2002, the number of meth labs raided by police jumped from 29 to 395. In the 2003 fiscal year, which ended in September, the number shot up to 439.
From January to Nov. 15 of this year, police found 61 children living at or exposed to homes used as meth labs in Georgia. That surpasses last year’s total of 52. The DEA says the numbers could be much higher because some police departments don’t report their data.
For drug users, methamphetamine — which can be snorted, smoked, injected or eaten — has its own special appeal. It’s cheaper than cocaine, and its high can last 12 hours or more. People can buy an “eight ball” (an eighth of an ounce) for between $100 and $250, which can keep them buzzing for several days, boosting their energy and sex drive.