By Elisabeth Waldon - Daily News staff writer
Chalk. Crank. Crystal. Fire. Glass. Ice. Speed. Meth.
You can swallow it, snort it, smoke it, dissolve it or inject it.
Methamphetamine by any name or method is a highly psychologically addictive illegal drug rising in popularity statewide, including Montcalm and Ionia counties. It's cheap, quick and the high lasts considerably longer than other drugs.
Meth is a synthetic stimulant drug that is used legally to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and obesity.
Side effects include alertness, motivation, heightened sexual stimulation and strong feelings of euphoria. That's why meth has become the illegal drug of choice for many.
The bitter-tasting power readily dissolves in beverages but is commonly smoked in glass pipes or in aluminum foil heated by a flame underneath — a method known as "chasing the white dragon." Smoking meth is the most impure form of ingestion, injecting it is the most powerful and taking it orally is the least detrimental.
While meth users are addicted to its more positive side effects, other results are less desirable — acne, amphetamine psychosis (delusions, hallucinations and thought disorder), depression, compulsive fascination with useless repetitive tasks, erectile dysfunction, formication (a false sensitive of flesh crawling with bugs, leading to compulsive picking and infected sores), immune system damage, long-term cognitive impairment, severe psychological addictions, staph infections, persistent adhedonia (an inability to experience pleasure from life) and last but not least death.
Lt. Steven Rau, a detective with the Michigan State Police Central Michigan Enforcement Team, said he's constantly receiving meth-related tips. Rau said people come from as far away as Kalamazoo and St. Joseph to steal meth ingredients in Montcalm and Ionia counties.
"It's always on the rise," he said. "They just come up with new methods to cook. We get a handle on one method and they get another method. It's cheaper and it's easier to get than other drugs.
"Rather than find someone to sell you the drugs, you make the drugs yourself," Rau explained. "You head over to Wal-Mart or Dollar General or Rite Aid and pick up the ingredients and then go home and in the comfort of your own home cook up a batch of meth.
"It's one of the toughest drugs to kick," he said. "If you smoke meth it's got about a 99 percent addiction rate. You go into these houses where meth users live and they're just trashed. There's no cleanliness to them. There's no personal hygiene going on with these people. It affects them in such a way that when you're interacting with these people they're constantly on edge."
State Police Lakeview Post Commander Steve Rains said many opportunities exist for meth producers here since Montcalm County is an agricultural area. He said making meth produces toxic fumes and orders so rural atmospheres are more conducive to meth production.
"It does make us more of a target here in Montcalm County as opposed to down in Kent County because of the population," Rains said. "Troopers have been trained in the characteristics of using meth, components and sources to look for. When we're doing traffic stops we're always looking. We're inquisitive just by the nature of our job."
State Police Ionia Post Commander Pat Richard said meth is a "huge" problem throughout his county too.
"It's growing exponentially," Richard said. "Troopers are diligently looking for any type of people who are trafficking meth or any type of drug."
Meth use has become so prevalent that State Rep. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, said she has been working to educate herself on the meth issue currently confronting her district.
"It's becoming more and more of an issue in our area," she said. "It's just a big concern because it just consumes the body. Parents really need to know."