Police seeing more crystallized meth

Delaware State Police say they are seeing an uptick in methamphetamine arrests, and more and more, it is crystal.

“We have made more arrests this year than in the past,” said Delaware State Police Sergeant J. Paul Doherty. “What we’re seeing, as far as the increase, is in crystal.”

Powdered meth is often made in small, home operations, what police call clandestine labs, and mixed with other substances, whereas crystal meth is usually made in super labs that have the ability to create a much purer and more potent drug.

“There’s a big difference between the two,” Doherty said. “The crystal will be coming from super labs, which usually originate in Mexico, and work its way up here. We’ve only had two, maybe three, clandestine labs this year so far.”

The synthetic stimulant releases large amounts of dopamine in the brain, making users feel energized and euphoric. It has a high potential for abuse and is very addictive.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, its effects, at first, include increased wakefulness, activity, blood pressure and body temperature, and lack of appetite. Long term effects, to name a few, include skin sores (due to compulsive skin picking), twitching, memory loss, tooth decay, irregular heartbeat, paranoia and psychosis.

“We need to make sure that the community knows how dangerous this drug is,” Doherty said.

As with opiates, meth users develop a tolerance and must use more and more in order to feel the effects. A meth overdose usually manifests in the form of a stroke or heart attack.

The drug can be swallowed or injected, but powdered meth is most commonly snorted and crystal meth smoked. Typically, it is sold by the gram. Police say prices are $90 to $110 a gram at the moment.

They aren’t yet sure why meth is gaining presence in Delaware.

“One reason could be the huge spike the whole country’s seeing with the heroin overdoses, that could have people leaning in different directions,” said Delaware State Police Lt. Lance Skinner. “I think there’s a scare out there in the community, which there should be, with the [heroin] addiction level. But meth is very toxic in itself.”