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Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Commander Troy Appel explains the dangers of methamphetamine use during a lyceum Friday at Round Lake-Brewster High School.

RL-B students learn dangers of meth

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ROUND LAKE -- Not even once.

It's a message that was repeated often during a presentation Friday at Round Lake-Brewster High School, when Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Commander Troy Appel spoke to students about the dangers of trying methamphetamine, a drug so addictive that 90 percent of people are hooked after one or two uses.

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"No matter what we show you or tell you today, there's no way to over exaggerate how bad meth really is," Appel said. "Sixty to 70 percent of our cases and arrests are related to meth addiction."

Appel said the task force has seized about 14 pounds of meth in the area from 2006 to 2009 -- including some from homes in Round Lake. He showed the students pictures of local addicts and meth labs found in homes near the school to illustrate his point.

"It was good that they put pictures from Round Lake so then people know that it is here and it's not just in big cities," said junior Olivia Stanton, one of three girls who brought task force representatives to the school as part of a Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) STAR project.

"We're more focused on how the kids are affected (by parental meth use)," explained junior Celia Schmitz. The students got their idea from a teacher who adopted her step-grandchildren when their mother became addicted to meth.

Through the Power Point presentation, attendees learned about the effects of methamphetamine, a synthetic nervous system stimulant that effectively re-wires the brain.

"Those senders and receivers in the brain are quickly killed off," Appel explained. "People can't experience any kind of pleasure without meth." In addition to severe organ damage or even death, users can experience psychological effects, including hallucinations.

"They're seeing and hearing things that aren't really there. They're in the living room and the TV is talking to them, whether it's on or not," he said. Another user whose boyfriend overdosed from the drug told BRDTF officers she was still searching for her "perfect dose."

"It didn't even faze her that her boyfriend had just died from using meth with her, she was still looking for that perfect high," Appel said. Students were especially affected by photographs of users who had literally scratched off their own skin in search of imagined insects.

He repeatedly told students to avoid trying the drug even once, saying addicts often tell area officers that one hit was all it took.

"I think it's really effective," said junior FCCLA member Mara Eichenberger after the presentation. "It's a lot of information to take in, but it does show the effects of what it does. It does show that the first time you try it you will get hooked."

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