Akron — On Sept. 25, around 100 community members gathered at the Akron-Summit Public Library for the second annual Meth Lab Community Forum.
This speaker series, focusing on the dangers of using crystal meth, was organized by Summit County Children Services, and takes place at a time when the number of police seizures of meth labs in Summit County is on an increase.
Chris Crokett, an Akron Police officer of 13 years, provided an in-depth presentation on the devastation that illegal meth use has caused the community.
The Akron Police Department has “recorded 150 meth lab seizures so far in 2013, more than double the amount from 2009,” said Crokett.
Crystal meth is the common street name for methamphetamine, a substance that is created by mixing several toxic chemicals. Crokett’s visual presentation included graphic “before-and-after” pictures people whose physical appearance have been mutilated by meth.
If pictures of men and women with rotten teeth did not drive home how dangerous crystal meth is, an Akron woman gave her personal account of how the drug almost ended her life.
Apryl Miller, 29, told the audience her story of how she became hooked on meth as a teenager.
“I got access to meth from guys who thought I was attractive,” Miller said. “I started doing crazy things because of the drug such as sleeping in my car and getting high at work.”
After several encounters with the police, her addiction to meth landed her in jail. It was during this time of solitude that she decided to seek help with her struggle with drugs. Miller underwent treatment and recovery and is now using her hard life experience to help others by working at the Interval Brotherhood Home. The program gives recovering addicts the physical and emotional support needed to function in society.
According to Miller, the drug is highly addictive and makes it difficult to do daily tasks such as eat or sleep. “When I was on meth I would hallucinate and see things that were not there,” Miller said. “If my family wanted me to go somewhere like Cedar Point or a birthday party I had to be high before I went.”
The Akron Police Department also set up a mock meth lab, comprised of a bedroom set and many of the household items that are used to cook meth including lithium batteries, lighter fluid and two liter Coke bottles. While these are all items that can be found in the average home, when mixed together they are highly flammable and extremely dangerous.
“People who make meth are basically taking their lives in their hands,” Crokett said. “Even a bead of sweat from a person making meth can cause a lab to ignite.
The police officers in attendance suggested a few warning signs to look for if you suspect that meth is being used or distributed in your neighborhood. Akron Police Department’s Lt. Brian Simcox shared that many houses where meth is cooked will be permeated with an ammonia like odor. Meth houses may also have a rundown appearance and windows open in all seasons for ventilation. Meth labs can be found in houses or discarded in parks and in dumpsters. Police warned community members that if they encounter a lab, do not touch it and get to safety.