An unexpected encounter with an alligator is terrifying enough, what more if that reptile is hyped up with methamphetamines? Meth is a popular stimulant drug that alters human behavior by giving the user increased energy and alertness. People high on speed have also been known to exhibit violent behavior, do bizarre things, and commit unthinkable crimes because after taking the drug, they tend to feel like superhuman, extra confident, and restless. This is probably why a cheeky Facebook post by a local Tennessee police department about “meth gators” became viral on a global scale, inciting fear amongst many.
In July 2019, several major news outlets worldwide including CNN reported that flushing drugs down the toilet could create meth alligators. This piece of info stemmed from a warning the Loretto Police Department posted on their social media page insinuating that this is a real possibility. The officers issued the warning because in a recent drug bust, they found a suspect trying to flush methamphetamines down the toilet and wanted to discourage people not to do the same, saying that the best way to dispose of drugs is to bring them to the City Hall. The post read:
“Ducks, geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds, and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do. Furthermore, if it made it far enough, we could create meth-gators in Shoal Creek and the Tennessee River down in North Alabama.”
Of course, the thought of having meth-crazed gators terrorizing America became extremely alarming especially for people living in areas known to be frequented by alligators. The post became viral that many started questioning whether this is real and if the police department have actually seen reptiles high on meth.
The worldwide interest forced the police department to issue a retraction a few days later saying that the post about meth gators was a joke. In another Facebook post, they backtracked by saying that it was a “humorous illustration” that they used to highlight that flushing drugs and other substances is dangerous. They then reiterated in all caps that THE METH GATOR IS NOT (at this time) REAL.
Of course, there is a small disclaimer in the statement “at this time” because, really, there is no evidence that meth gators are real or not. No one has testified seeing one nor did anybody test alligators for traces of meth. At present, the idea of meth gators is just pure fiction but this does not invalidate the fact that flushing down drugs down the toilet can be dangerous to the environment.
While there won’t be any cranked-up gators wandering through your neighborhood swamp anytime soon, there have been many evidences that drugs and other pharmaceutical substances have contaminated aquatic life. In Seattle, fish from Puget Sound tested positive for narcotics. One of the species affected is the juvenile Chinook salmon that contained traces of benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium. This means that these anti-anxiety drugs used by your favorite celebrities could also be in your favorite fish dinner.
There have also been reports of antidepressants being found on fish brain and traces of cocaine in U.K. shrimp. Salmon on Xanax, shrimp on cocaine, and antidepressants found in fish brain may not be as scary as the idea of meth gators, but these are realities brought about by improper drug disposal. Bodies of water near wastewater treatment plants often end up polluted by these drug chemicals. When illicit drugs or any other medicines are flushed down the drain, treatment plants cannot always filter out these chemicals that’s why they often end up in rivers and lakes. What this means is that it is very important to dispose of any kind of drug the right way.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the best way to safely dispose of old, unwanted or expired over-the-counter/prescription medicines is to take them at a drug take-back location. However, these programs may not cover illicit drugs like cocaine and meth. In Los Angeles, there is a “Safe Drug Drop-Off Program” once a month that accepts all pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs. During this day, people who drop off illicit narcotics anonymously will not face questions and criminal consequences.
If a drug take-back program is not available in your area, the next best option is to mix the drug, whether liquid or solid, in an undesirable substance like dirt, cat litter, or coffee grounds. After mixing, put the mixture in a sealed bag or container and throw it in the trash.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available. Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center to learn more about our specialized programs.