Meth abuse victims highlighted in University study

By Acton Gorton

A recent study conducted by University researchers has found that the worst people affected by the abuse of methamphetamine drugs are families and children. However, the study finds that there is a lack of information available for treatment.

The study, led by social work professor Wendy Haight, cites circumstances where children are inhaling toxic gasses, risking being the victims of chemical explosions and living with traumatic experiences.

Lt. Tim Voges, detective with the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, said methamphetamine labs are a huge problem in Champaign County, but not as serious as Coles or Douglas counties. He said that when parents get addicted, their children will be neglected due to the lack of nurturing necessary for children to become productive.

One of the scenarios described in the study depicts children pulling guard duty with guns and watching for police – but that might not be a local problem.

“We haven’t dealt with any labs where children are involved,” Voges said.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Voges said there has been a big increase in the theft of chemicals needed to manufacture methamphetamines from stores. Voges talked about incidents where farmers discover two-liter soda bottles with explosive chemicals dumped on the side of the road or in ditches. When this happens, Voges said, the local police have to secure the area, the DEA must be alerted, and hazardous material handlers contracted from nearby states must come in and dispose of the material – a process that costs several thousand dollars.

Bruce Libe, master sergeant with the state police, described scenarios children have been involved in. In California, Libe said, 35 percent of the children in methamphetamine-producing households test positive for the drug.

Libe said there have been reports where parents are using the same dishes to cook the drug and serve food to their children. Methamphetamines are also being stored in the refrigerator next to food. Also, he described how the solvents used for producing the drug are heavy and fall to the floor. Once the chemicals have touched the ground, they become difficult to clean up. Because small children crawl and pick things up from the floor, they eat the material.

Libe also told about a recent incident at a school in Edgar County where the students were given an assignment to talk about problems associated with methamphetamines. According to Libe, an 11-year-old student brought in a poster board presentation of his father’s methamphetamine lab. Other students brought in posters portraying the exact method and chemicals involved with producing methamphetamine based upon what they have seen.

In regards to children’s behavior, Libe said, the police don’t get to see the effects of what happens after an investigation is complete because of the short time period involved. He said school counselors and officials would be left to deal with the long-term effects of the children growing up with social debilitations.

On the University level, however, there does not appear to be a problem with methamphetamines.

“We don’t get a lot of meth on campus,” said Sgt. Roy Acree of the University Police. “Only one drug arrest (involving methamphetamines) since 1988.”