Meth Menace Part II

"It's like the Twilight Zone drug. It is something to be terrified of. It is Satan," describes a female inmate in the Lee County Jail. For now, serving two jail sentences saved Rachel's life from a self-destructive habit to crystal meth; but the drug has torn her family apart.

"How could they ever think that they could trust me again," asks Rachel.

The awful reality of many meth busts in the country is children often live there.

Tony Calderaro, an agent with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, says, "We've done a search warrant where we'll find the children locked in a room in the back with a stack full of videos while Mom and Dad and the rest of their friends are in the kitchen cooking meth."

These are the helpless victims of the crystal meth epidemic, burdens to sick parents and a flooded foster care system.

Calderaro say, "Meth has a tendency to work on people's level of paranoia, increases their paranoia. They're edgy which leads to them possibly abusing the children physically."

Don't be surprised if they're also your neighbors. "You see that house we're passing there," says Captain Van Jackson of the Lee County Sheriff's Office as he drives through a rural part of the Lee County. "We made one of the largest methanphedamine busts involving some Mexicans that were brought into Lee County just to cook meth," says Jackson.

Lee County Sheriff, Jay Jones, says, "It's become a significant problem. I would say it is probably our number one type of substance abuse that we encounter on the streets on a daily basis."

Unlike other drugs, crystal meth is made with products you can buy off the shelf.

Agent Calderaro says, "Anybody who has the desire to do so and can read can manufacture meth."

What makes meth so accessible is the very thing that makes it extremely dangerous.

Calderaro adds, "One of the organic solvents they use is ether. You can't buy ether; so they use starter fluid."

Chemicals like anhydrous ammonia, lithium, and hydrogen chloride gas are all used create crystal meth. Each solvent is highly prone to catch fire or explode if handled incorrectly. Since meth cooks are usually meth addicts as well, tweaked out on the drug, each day brings a disaster waiting to happen, especially for their unsuspecting children.

Rachel laments, "At least my kids are healthy and alive, but that is the only thing I can give myself. Can be thankful for what I've done to my kids by tearing our family apart with meth."

Because it's so easy to conceal, it's difficult to know just how many people in Alabama use meth.  We do know it's users come in all ages.  One study reports nearly 5% of all high school seniors in the United States have used crystal meth "at least once."

One of the biggest lures to meth is the artificial stimulation it creates.  A crystal meth high can last up to twelve hours.  However, over time, it also causes irreversible brain damage and a rapid breakdown of the user's body.

Reporter: Theo Travers