I read an unbelievable news story today about the burn victims of methamphetamine. According to the news story, the associated press conducted a survey of key hospitals in the nation’s most active meth states. The survey showed that up to a third of the patients in some burn units were hurt while making meth. This added up to thousands of people. Thousands of people whose burns – serious enough to send them to hospital burn units – could have been prevented if they’d gone to drug rehab.
The story was actually about the fact that most of these people are insured, which is creating a huge burden on healthcare costs for the rest of us, and is actually causing some burn units to close.
What about people who are burned when being caught in house fires, or even fighting them. Can you imagine living in an area which no longer had a burn unit to help people who were burned while doing something legal?
The burns from methamphetamine are usually caused by explosions while making it. The method is called “shake-and-bake.” The raw ingredients are put into a 2 liter soda bottle and shaken. But the mixture is very unstable and if not done absolutely correctly can explode.
The explosions can cause permanent disfigurement, blindness, and death.
The damage is also reflected in the cost for each burn patient – an average of $130,000 each, 60 percent higher than other burn patients. Burn experts estimate the cost to the taxpayer at 10s to 100s of millions of dollars. They can’t get a closer estimate because someone burned by meth often lies about what happened.
Another problem with this method of making meth is that, unlike big labs, someone making it is hard to find. Big labs required quite a bit of equipment and the chemicals could be smelled all over the neighborhood.
But they are making their presence known in hospitals. From 1999 to 2009, there were 83 meth related injuries in Indiana. Thanks to shake-and-bake ‘labs’, there have been 70 injuries in the last two years. A big change.
One of the doctors in a burn center in Iowa said that many of the meth lab burn patients won’t be able to return to a normal life. They’ll need rehab and occupational therapy to cope with their disfigured body.
There are a lot of people who have a pretty casual attitude towards drugs – especially when it comes to something apparently not too dangerous, like smoking marijuana. But drugs lead to more drugs, and when they lead to something like meth, you’re really taking your life in your hands in a number of ways.
If someone you care about is into drugs of any kind, the only way to really keep them safe is to get them through a good drug rehab program so they will get off drugs, and not want to take them again.