Meth Menace Part I

Rachel is a meth addict.

She wouldn't let us show her face because of a pending drug case in Lee County, but she can describe what hell looks and feels like.

"They call it running around with your foot nailed to the floor. You got all this energy and stuff, but your brain's already fried," recounts Rachel.

It destroys the body as well. "I watched a girl inject it into her neck," says Rachel, "and get a sore this big and fluorescent green on her cheek."

Common side effects include insomnia, palpitations, paranoia, and psychosis. Rachel recalls, "This one girl was so messed up she had her shoe and thought it was her cell phone."

Meth mouth is a common condition brought on by the ingredients of meth and the lifestyle of meth addicts.

Rachel says, "After a few months, you're tore up looking, your house is tore up looking, you can't get to an appointment, you can't do anything."

The ugly aftermath of meth use makes you wonder why anyone would try the drug in the first place.

Rachel says, "I liked it because I was a really sad and lonely person, and had a lot of trauma throughout my life."

Science offers some clues to the drug's appeal. Methamphetamine releases large amounts of dopamine in the brain, the natural chemical the body releases to produce pleasure. One bump of crystal meth-- either smoked, snorted, or injected-- can create a stimulated euphoria for up to twelve hours. However, in the process, crystal meth rips havoc on the prefrontal lobe, causing permanent brain damage.

Captain Jerry Conner of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation says, "It produces depression, suicide, violence. The lack of sleep makes them dysfunctional. No good to society. No good to their families."

In less than five years using meth, Rachel wrecked her marriage and split her five children apart.

"My biggest regret is what I've done to my children," says Rachel. "I cannot imagine what they're going to say to me now, whenever I get to talk to them.

"What do I tell them? 'It's going to be okay,'" asks Rachel. "I don't know that it's going to be okay. I told them it was going to be okay last time."

Experts say that crystal meth is one of the most addictive street drugs and one of the hardest to treat. Addiction counselors report a relapse rate of 92%, worse than cocaine. Treatment options are limited here in the U.S. because most users don't have health insurance.

Federal, state, and local agencies uncovered 385 meth labs in Alabama last year alone. Of course, that's only the one's they've found.

Reporter: Theo Travers