Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Working Safely with Meth Users

Working Safely with Meth Users
Possible Danger Signs
Signs of methamphetamine use (see above)
Client is extremely irritable or argumentative, or there is an escalation of irritability
Regular client does not appear to know who you are
Evidence of paranoid thinking, delusions
Client verbalizes implicit or explicit threat against you
Presence of knife, firearm, or other weapon in the immediate vicinity
Safety Tips
Inform supervisor/co-workers you will be visiting a client with a history of making or using methamphetamine
Follow agency safety protocols and suggestions made in Practice Notes issue on worker safety (vol. 3, no. 2)
Ask permission if you want to go to another area of the client’s dwelling or look in cabinets (e.g., to ensure food is in the house)
Watch for:
Symptoms of stimulant use
Paraphernalia for using meth such as glass smoking pipes, syringes, straws and razor blades on mirrors or other surfaces
Signs that client is becoming upset, angry, or suspicious
Scratch marks or scabs, particularly on hands and arms, could be evidence of tactile hallucinations and indicate a prior episode of stimulant psychosis
Evidence of hallucinations
Strong chemical odor (may indicate manufacturing of meth)
(Source: Adapted from Crowell & Webber, 2001 )
References for this and other articles in this issue