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We are pleased to bring you the 15th edition of Fast Facts. This is a brief report on
local data that we believe you will find useful in both understanding and improving the
health of our community. Our goal is to keep it brief and instructive and to provide
opportunities for all persons to positively impact the issue. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, board members, legislators and others in the community.

This month we want to highlight the problem of Methamphetamine addiction and production, which can significantly impact human and enivronmental health. Special thanks to Kevin Hunter with the Fort Wayne Police Department and Tim McClure with the Indiana Attorney General's Office for their assistance in compiling this report.



Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerfully addictive stimulant, can be easily produced in illicit, makeshift laboratories and generally is considered the fastest-growing illicit drug in the United States. Meth is available as a crystalline powder or in rock-like chunks. Meth varies in color, and may be white, yellow, brown or pink. Meth can be smoked, injected or snorted. Immediately after smoking or injection, the user experiences an intense sensation, called a "rush" or "flash," that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Following the "rush," users will experience a state of high agitation that can lead to aggressive or violent behavior. Other short-term symptoms include increased wakefulness and physical activity and decreased appetite. It can also cause heart problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and seizures may occur with methamphetamine overdose, and if not treated immediately, can result in death.


Long-term effects include tolerance - very quickly users will need larger amounts to get high. In some cases, users will take more meth every few hours for days, until they either run out of the drug or become too dysfunctional to continue using. Other long-term effects include paranoia, hallucinations, repetitive behavior (such as compulsively cleaning and grooming or disassembling and assembling objects), and delusions of parasites or insects crawling under the skin. Users can obsessively scratch their skin to get rid of these imagined insects. Long-term use, high dosages, or both can induce full-blown toxic psychosis. This behavior is usually coupled with extreme paranoia. Unfortunately, the psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit abusing methamphetamine, and stress has been shown to precipitate spontaneous recurrence of methamphetamine psychosis in formerly psychotic methamphetamine abusers.[i]


From a neurological standpoint, meth actually changes brain chemistry, and after extended use, the brain can no longer respond to normal brain transmitters. The result is that users can no longer feel good, and they resort to increase consumption of the drug in an attempt to recapture the first high. At this point, the user often becomes addicted.


Finally, long-term users also suffer physical effects, including weight loss, severe tooth decay and tooth loss ("meth mouth"), and skin sores. The dental problems may be caused by a combination of poor nutrition and dental hygiene, as well as dry mouth and teeth grinding caused by the drug. Skin sores are the result of picking and scratching the skin to get rid of insects imagined to be crawling under it.





National Survey on Drug Use and Health; Trends in Prevalence of Methamphetamine for Ages 12 or older, Ages 12 to 17, Ages 18 to 25, and Ages 26 to older; 2012 (in percent).

Time Period
Ages 12 or Older
Ages 12 to 17
Ages 18 to 25
Ages 26 or older










Past year0.40

Past month




A meth lab can operate virtually anywhere. For each pound of meth produced, five to six pounds of hazardous waste are generated. Poisonous vapors produced during cooking permeate insulation and carpets, often making homes and buildings uninhabitable. Cleaning up these sites requires specialized training and costs thousands of dollars per site. We have seen a significant increase in meth labs in our community in the past year.


Allen County Meth Labs 2008 - 2013




Children and Meth Labs


We also know that children who live in or near meth labs are at great risk of being harmed by the hazardous substances and noxious fumes. These children need special care: they may be malnourished, suffering the effects of physical or sexual abuse, or have behavioral problems as a result of neglect. They often end up in foster care.



What You Can Do


 As a health care provider:   

  • Educate parents about the warning signs of potential abuse, including:
    • Paranoia
    • Anxiousness
    • Agitation
    • Extreme moodiness
    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions of parasites or insects crawling under the skin
    • Rolled up paper money or short straws
    • Pieces of glass/mirrors and/or razor blades
    • Burned spoons
    • Plastic tubing and/or syringes/needles  

As a parent:

  • Watch for the warning signs above.
  • If you suspect a house or property may be an illegal lab, contact the police or sheriff's department. If it's an emergency, call 911. Do not enter a site that you think may have been used for cooking meth.  

 As a funder or public official:      

  • Initiate legislation that would make pseudoephedrine a prescription-only drug. Prior to Oregon's prescription-only law, Oregon had approximately 400 lab incidents. After passing this law, Oregon had just 20 meth lab incidents.[i]
  • Strengthen existing statutes regarding identified methamphetamine laboratory clean-ups. Currently, there is no penalty associated with the failure to properly decontaminate an identified meth lab. Further, there is no requirement that these properties even be decontaminated. This leads to community blight over time as criminals can easily move site to site creating this harmful drug with no penalty for contaminating these sites.
  • Give local health departments the ability to assess fines for non-compliance with the statutes regarding proper decontamination. Local health departments are the ones charged with ensuring these properties are not inhabited until they are properly remediated. Currently, local health departments around the state have had to develop enforcement programs to combat these properties using general public health statutes on prevention of disease. The statute that governs the meth lab clean-up should be strengthened to provide legal remedies to local health departments engaged in enforcement actions with these properties and their owners.




  • The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health maintains on its website information and resources on meth lab contamination and clean-up, including a list of current dwellings posted as uninhabitable. Go to and click on the Vector Control & Environmental Health division or click here. 
  • The Indiana State Police Meth Suppression Section maintains on its website resources and information about meth laws and enforcement. Go to or call
    1-877-MSS-METH (677-6384).
  • For clients struggling with substance abuse, including methamphetamine addiction, United Way 2-1-1 of Northeast Indiana can direct people to resources such as counseling, support groups and inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. For more information, visit or call 2-1-1 directly.
  • Indiana Access to Recovery (INATR) assists clients who want to get in recovery from substance use problems and disorders or who need assistance maintaining their recovery. If you or someone you know would benefit from the INATR program, please visit or call the toll free resource line at 1-800-662-HELP [4357] to get connected with a Recovery Consultant in your area.
  • To access to Title 318 IAC 1, Indiana's Meth Rule, click here.
  • For information on the health effects of meth exposure on children, click here.
Fast Facts is a collaboration of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and
United Way 2-1-1 of Northeast Indiana
  Contact Deborah McMahan, MD or John Silcox
 c/o Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health