A considerable degree of media and public attention has focused on the manufacture, sale, and use of methamphetamine over the course of the past two decades. What has been overlooked to a considerable degree is the impact meth has on children. Specifically, children oftentimes are in close proximity to meth labs, to methamphetamine supplies maintained by dealers, and to parents and others who use meth. The shocking reality is that a considerable number of children each year face significant and even chronic health maladies as a result of their exposure to meth.
Most Common Ways in Which Children Are Exposed to Meth
As mentioned, children are exposed to meth by people who manufacture, sell, and use it. When it comes to meth manufacturing, oftentimes called meth-cooking, the process can result in significant and highly hazardous contamination. Indeed, because of the highly dangerous nature of a meth lab, HAZMAT teams may be needed to initially address the aftermath of this type of operation. HAZMAT intervention is then followed by professional meth decontamination.
Understanding how profoundly dangerous a meth lab is, is the associated shocking reality is that many meth cooks operate their labs when their own children are nearby. In other words, children are exposed to very harmful substances that are used to make meth as well as to the drug itself.
Meth dealers oftentimes keep fairly large amounts of meth in their homes or at other locations where their own children may have access. Some meth dealers use the drug, some do not. If a meth dealer uses meth, it ups the chance that children face harmful exposure to the drug. Even in the absence of using, the fact that a dealer oftentimes stows meth at a residence can result in children being exposed to meth residue.
Finally, depending on how a user ingests meth, children can face exposure to the drug that can result in chronic and ever profound health issues. According to a study by the University of Kansas Medical Center, there are a number of ways in which meth is ingested by a user or addict:
- Anal Suppository (also known as a butt rocket or plugging)
- Inhalation (also known as chasing the white dragon)
- Insufflation (snorting)
- IV Injection (also known as banging, mainlining, or slamming)
- Vaginal Suppository
When it comes to meth use, children are most apt to come into contact with the illicit drug when a parent or other adult smokes it in their presence. The release from a meth pipe does result in meth residue becoming airborne and even building up on surfaces and objects in a home where meth users live and use. In addition, airborne meth residue directly ends up on a child’s body.
Health Impacts of Meth on Children
The most common effects on meth on children are:
- Learning disabilities
- Intestinal problems
- Sleep disturbances
- Sensory integration problem
- Skeletal and spinal abnormalities
- Delayed speech
In addition to these common ways in which meth can impact children, there are other less frequent but highly serious ways in which the drug effects the overall health of children. These include cancer, leukemia, and organ damage. When it comes to organ damage sustained by children because of meth exposure, the most commonly harmed organs are the kidney and liver.
Signs a Child May Be Suffering Health Consequences of Meth Exposure
There are signs that a child may be suffering health consequences of meth exposure. These signs are detectable even in very young children:
- Uncontrolled crying
- Rapid eye movements
Meth Contamination and Future Exposure
In addition to the children of meth cooks, dealers, and users, another health concern exists regarding other individuals who end up exposed to meth contaminated property, including children. In many situations, the operation of a meth lab is detected and becomes known. Fortunately, the aftermath of a meth lab does end up suitably remediated. However, this is not always the case.
When a meth lab site is not properly fully remediated, the contamination can cause health problems for future occupants. As noted previously, the impact can be particularly dire for children.
Unfortunately, a residence or other type of property where meth is used or stored by a dealer ends up with undetected contamination. For example, a meth smoker may have rented an apartment, ultimately vacating it at the end of a lease term or otherwise. A landlord undertakes the typical post-occupancy cleaning process. This level of cleaning simply is not sufficient to eliminate meth contamination from the premises. As a consequence, subsequent tenants will be exposed to the meth contamination, including children. The end result, as history demonstrates, is future occupants who become ill by reason of meth exposure. In some cases, this type of exposure results in serious and even chronic or debilitating illness for children.