Designed to inform people of the science behind illegal drug addiction and the costs of illegal drugs on society, the exhibit helps us think about how we can make a difference.
As I peered through the glass of a methamphetamine lab display in a simulated room of a house, I saw the dirty toilet, filthy sink and the inexpensive ingredients like pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicines, used to manufacture meth. Acetone, a flammable substance added to the process, makes this drug highly explosive. Hung nearby was a slightly blurred picture of a crying toddler who was rescued during a meth lab raid, found covered in acid and tested positive for methamphetamine.
Methamphetamines, along with other drugs like cocaine, increase the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain, which is released in response to natural behaviors, like eating your favorite food. The drug’s ability to release elevated levels of dopamine rapidly in reward areas of the brain produces the "rush" (euphoria) that many people experience and crave. However, people develop a tolerance and must increase their use to get that rush.
I next observed, through another glass-protected display, a dirty room with a crib on one corner, and vials, syringes and a diaper soiled with fake feces on the floor. Trash was scattered throughout. What’s distressing is that this setting exists all over this country in actual homes.
I stood before the wrecked remains of a barely recognizable car driven by someone under the influence. Though my time was limited, I stopped to look at or read most of the artifacts, photographs, videos and interactive kiosks dispersed throughout the exhibit area.
Calling another display the most dangerous part of your home, Ms. Long pointed to a medicine cabinet. Most of us have prescription and over-the-counter medications that can be illegally sold on the street or ingested by young children. Do not flush medications down the toilet because they can’t be removed during wastewater treatment. Instead, visit www.LifeStepsCouncil.org beginning mid-March or call 512-246-9880 for information about National Take Back Day on April 28.
A collection drop box for unused medications is located at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office at 508 South Rock St. in Georgetown on weekdays during regular business hours. Another option is to mix uncrushed pills and tablets with substances such as dirty kitty litter or coffee grounds, place this in a plastic bag and put it in your trash.
Photos of overdose victims that include celebrities like Judy Garland, who starred as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and died from barbiturate overdose in 1969, along with those of smiling teens, young adults and older people were displayed. Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone regardless of race, age, gender or socioeconomic background.
Other photos showed heavily armed men standing guard at a drug production facility because the drug manufacturing and trafficking trade is so lucrative. Images of coca fields replacing rain forests for cocaine production and marijuana fields filling areas where American forests once stood enhanced the story.
The most solemn display consisted of large pieces of twisted metal from the New York World Trade Center destroyed on September 11, 2001, by terrorists partially funded by drug trafficking. Behind the display hangs another brutal reminder of that day: a photo of one of the 343 firefighters who died trying to save lives.
I urge you to visit the exhibit before the museum closes and take your middle schoolers and high schoolers—probably too graphic for younger kids—and stop by the Discovery Corner for educational take-home literature and other resources. And get involved!
For information on the exhibit at TXMOST located at 1220 Toro Grande Drive in Cedar Park, please visit https://txmost.org/ or call 512-961-5333.