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      Meth burns cost taxpayers

      A new method of cooking the drug methamphetamine is causing problems with health care.

      Recent reports say thousands of uninsured patients who hurt themselves by making meth are costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

      The method is called "shake and bake" or the "one pot method."

      Users will cook the ingredients inside a two liter pop bottle or Gatorade bottle. There are two seams along the side of the plastic. They're the weak points and can separate during the cooking process, resulting in shooting flames.

      The Flint Area Narcotics Group, otherwise known as FANG, says in the last two years all of its meth busts have used the shake and bake method.

      "It's growing because it's easy. It's easy to make. It's cheap. It's inexpensive, and it's also very mobile," says FANG Commander Pat Richard.

      The bottle containing all the ingredients can be thrown in a trunk or stashed under a seat for concealment.

      Of Michigan's six burn units, Flint's Hurley Medical Center is the only one north of Detroit.

      Officials there say it sees less than a dozen meth burn cases a year and most of the patients are not from the Flint area because meth is more common in rural areas.

      However, they say it is costly to treat.

      Hurley Medical Center R.N. and trauma director Melanie Mata says, "Not only are you dealing with a thermal burn, but you're also dealing with inhalation injuries as well, which require ventilation. So that puts them at risk for developing pneumonias and over kinds of things."

      An Associated Press report says the average meth burn patient runs up $130,000 in medical bills.

      "Quite honestly, a lot of these people don't have insurance. This is coming out of the taxpayers pockets to pay for these things," says Richard.

      In Michigan, medical experts say the most meth cases happen in the southwest.

      For the country, it's primarily in the southern states.

      In some cases, meth patients account for one third of the hospitals burn patients.

      Drug officers tell NBC25 when it comes to meth, one hit and you're hooked.

      They say it's nearly impossible to break the addiction and encourage everyone not to make it or take it.