Mar 072005
Authors: Holly Bianco

On Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. the Larimer County Drug Task Force and the Fort Collins Police Department carried out a search warrant on a local house assumed to be manufacturing methamphetamines. When they entered the house they discovered materials needed to produce a methamphetamine laboratory.

The residents of the household, Christopher O'Brien and Victoria Fraley, were arrested and taken into custody at the Larimer County Detention Center pending a trial. They will then be charged with manufacturing methamphetamines.

This incident marks a recent rise in the sale and use of illegal drugs in Colorado, according to a report by the Colorado Department of Human Services. The report also states that cocaine use is first among highest drug incident rates followed by methamphetamines as second.

The drug influences in Colorado may be due to several different reasons such as population growth, which has increased trafficking.

"Its popularity has increased because the amount of local manufacturing has increased," said Marc Condojani, the critical training coordinator for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division, which is part of the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Methamphetamines have become widely used because of their availability and side affects, like weight loss.

"Woman tend to be attracted to this drug to lose weight," Condojani said.

Not only are the side effects extremely hazardous to the users health but it also may cause psychological damages.

"Meth is a very habilitating drug. It causes a lot of sleeplessness, weight loss, paranoia and anxiety," said Steven Foster, the chief operating officer at Business Controls for the Aurora Police Department. "It can also cause a lot of problems with your skin (such as soars)."

These side effects usually entail negative appearances and also negatively impact the brain's normal functions.

"It directly attacks the bodily organs just as a poison would," said Michael Levine a trial consultant on methamphetamines for Expert Witness, an Internet company that specializes in experts of various topics.

Methamphetamines have both short-term and long-term negative effects.

"One of the things we've seen in the long term (effects), we see some pruning in the brain," Condojani said. "In the short term there's always risks of how people behave when they're high, when people are using it they aren't sleeping and eating as much."

More people are trying to make methamphetamines on their own Condojani said; the reason is probably because the resources are not hard to come by.

"In general there are some basic chemicals that people can buy at hardware stores the key ingredient is getting an ephedrine cold medicine," Condojani said.

Methamphetamine laboratories are commonly found in Colorado and are hazardous to the producers and the surrounding citizens.

"Meth labs are extremely dangerous and they can blow up at any time," Foster said. "Plus it can get into your skin by just touching the items they use to make it."

Cooking up meth is a very volatile process and increases the danger for everyone surrounding or affiliated with the laboratory.

"What I've seen during a cook (creating meth) is it can be a very toxic environment and there is also an explosion risk," Condojani said.

Condojani said that the fumes released during a cook are very obvious and the manufactures spend a great deal of time trying to mask the scent so people around their house will not suspect any illegal activity.

There are many organizations such as the Drug Related Emergency Department working to decrease production and use of methamphetamines as well as other illegal drug activity.

According to Condojani, the Colorado Department of Human Services is working to help drug users wean off their addiction as well.

"We are pretty well positioned in our technology to help people with meth addictions," Condojani said. "Our treatment systems however do not have a lot of funding.

When treating someone with a meth addiction there are certain precautions that need to be made.

"Someone who simply stops meth (cold turkey) can go into convulsions and die," Levine said. "They have to go off it under the supervision of a doctor."

Surprisingly methamphetamines have been an increasing problem for years now.

"While it seems like a new epidemic, it has been around for 50 years," Condojani said.

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