After two alleged clandestine methamphetamine laboratories were discovered in Archbold, the dangerous illegal stimulant was the center of attention.
But it’s certainly not new.
“It’s been around forever,” said Ken Bond, director of Recovery Services of Northwest Ohio, a private, nonprofit firm that treats chemical dependency.
Bond should know. He’s worked in the field since 1975.
Meth, he said, “was known as speed years ago. It’s definitely been here a long time.”
But while meth labs may be popping up in the area, actual methamphetamine use in Fulton County is down.
Bond said officials think meth is being made in rural areas; then, with easy access to the Ohio Turnpike, sent to major cities.
It would be more difficult to conceal a lab in a city, he said.
Doug Engel, chief deputy of the Defiance County Sheriff Department and commander of the Multi-Area Narcotics Task Force, or MAN Unit, said the MAN unit deals with 30 to 40 meth labs a year in Williams, Defi- ance, and Putnam counties.
“The numbers seem to be picking up,” he said.
Now that the MAN Unit is assisting Fulton County law enforcement agencies, “I think we’ll see more,” Engel said.
Cindy Rose, director of nursing for the Fulton County Health Department, said results from health assessments conducted for the department show drug use is down.
Youths surveyed were asked specifically about the use of methamphetamine. In 2005, the survey showed 4% of the youth population had tried meth at least once.
But in 2008, 2010, and 2012, that figure was down to 1%.
In terms of adult use, in 2005, 13% of the county population said it had tried recreational drugs, which include methamphetamine.
When the question was asked again in 2012, the figure was down to 1%.
Bond said his agency is seeing more people addicted to prescription painkillers such as Oxycodone.
When they can’t get the prescription pills, they move to heroin.
Roy Miller, Fulton County sheriff, said his officers have seen a rise in heroin cases.
Methamphetamine has a well-documented history of damaging effects to the human body.
On the Internet, there are pictures of people who have just started using meth. A second picture, perhaps two years later, is not recognizable as the same person.
Bond said meth addicts suffer a lot of severe medical and behavioral problems.
Engel said meth is actually a petroleum-based acidic substance.
“If you constantly put those chemicals in you body, they have to escape someplace. They create severe damage to your organs, including your brain and kidneys,” he said.
“The effects are irreversible.”
If the drug is so devastating, why do people use it?
“It’s the high,” Engel said.
“It’s a stimulant. It gives you the perception that you have more energy, that you can do more work. It gives you an energy boost.”
“It’s an upper,” Bond said. “It makes you high. It speeds you up. You get very high, but (it) doesn’t last very long.”
Which leads to people using more of the drug.
Martin Schmidt, Archbold police chief, said there are no new developments in the investigation surrounding the two alleged labs found in Archbold.
The first was found, Friday, July 5, in the basement of a home at 408 Lincoln Street.
The second was discovered the night of Tuesday, July 16 in an unoccupied mobile home in the Colony Meadows trailer park.
Also, chemicals for making meth were found in Lions Park on Monday afternoon, July 1.
Police continue to investigate the incidents.