Our Troubled Society – The Truth About Methamphetamine

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Our Troubled Society – The Truth About Methamphetamine

The Truth About Methamphetamine Infographic

The truth about methamphetamine is that it has found its way into our neighborhoods and our homes, creeping like a silent predator along the back alleyways and street corners. It has broken up families and destroyed lives. It has turned friends and brothers against each other. It has become a living nightmare for millions of people. What probably began as a “little innocent fun” has quickly turned those pleasure seekers into shadows of their former selves, having little to no concern for anybody else’s safety or emotional well-being. Methamphetamine, particularly the form known as “Crystal Meth,” has ravaged our country, from the smallest rural community to the largest metropolitan area.

With the rise of Crystal Meth, our communities are facing a substance abuse epidemic of national proportions.

A Brief History of Meth and Some of The Truth About Methamphetamine

Developed by a chemist in Japan in the 1930’s, methamphetamine, or “meth,” was originally used for the treatment of asthma, bronchial congestion, and narcolepsy. Because of its stimulating effects, allied forces during World War II used meth as a way to keep pilots and soldiers awake and alert during wartime battles. Before too long, however, the detrimental effects of methamphetamine use and abuse became evident, and military use ceased. Less potent forms of meth were developed for use in weight loss programs and the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder, and are still prescribed for medical purposes in one way or another.

Even in these more innocent roles, this drug has too many opportunities for abuse. High school and college students across our nation throw “study parties,” where amphetamine-based stimulants are taken in mass quantities to help the user “focus” and “cram” for an upcoming exam or power through a long and difficult research paper. Of course, this leads to even more substances being abused, since after the “study session,” the over-stimulated students then take to binge drinking or using other depressants to “come down.”

Then, there are the forms of meth that are used for recreational use, also called “club drugs.” All night raves and nightclub parties see pills and powders being passed around like candy, often very much in the open. As the user continues to abuse these drugs, their tolerance level rises, and it takes more potent chemicals at a higher quantity to produce the desired effects. It starts to get quite expensive, and with addiction taking hold, the user will often look for a cheaper substitute.

This is where Crystal Meth comes in. All forms of methamphetamine are dangerous and deadly, with plenty of opportunity for abuse and addiction. But Crystal Meth is probably the most dangerous and addictive of them all, for many different reasons. From production to cost to health and social issues, Crystal Meth has been destroying our communities for years. Even though people see the damage that meth causes, have seen the lives it has destroyed, they will still continue to use. It doesn’t matter whether they know the truth about methamphetamine or not.

A Dangerous Game – Effects of Crystal Meth on the User

The effects and dangers of Crystal Meth are widespread. It not only destroys lives and families, but it also damages our neighborhoods and communities. The social problems that arise from the production and use of meth are just as extreme as the personal problems that occur in the user’s life.

The short-term effects of Crystal Meth come in seven distinct stages. Knowing these can give a little insight into the truth about methamphetamine:

  • The initial “high” that the user feels is a result of dopamine flooding the brain, leading to feelings of euphoria.
  • Next, after about 30 minutes, the euphoric sensations start to subside, and the user begins to experience feelings of extreme alertness and a false sense of “hyper-intelligence.” After a while, those effects also start to wear off.
  • Known as the “binge” stage, since it takes a larger quantity of the drug ingested more often to sustain the “high.” Alcohol and other substances are often used during this stage as well until nothing will produce the desired feelings.
  • The fourth stage is often called “tweaking” (those addicted to meth are sometimes referred to as “tweakers). This is when the terrible effects of Crystal Meth become most evident. During this stage, the user becomes irritable and paranoid, often suffering from hallucinations and uncontrollable anger, which leads to violence.
  • Following the “tweak,” the body simply can’t take anymore, and it begins to shut down as the user enters the hibernation stage. This usually occurs after being awake and “tweaked” for several days in a row, and sleep can last for one to three days, or even longer in extreme cases.
  • When they regain consciousness, the “hangover” stage begins. After sleeping with no food or water for days, exhaustion, malnutrition, and dehydration cause physical damage and feelings of illness, which in turn affect the user’s mental state.
  • The final stage is withdrawal, which is often too much for the user to bear, and they begin the cycle all over again.

But digging in to the truth about methamphetamine, these aren’t the only effects. Long-term use causes brain damage resulting in loss of memory and other cognitive functions. Open sores and lesions on the body result from continually itching skin, which is caused by dehydration. And then there is “Meth Mouth,” where rot and decay cause the user’s teeth to break and fall out, a result of characteristic grinding of the teeth and a lack of proper dental hygiene.

Social Effects of Crystal Meth

Even though meth is cheap to produce, the process of manufacture is quite dangerous. The chemicals used are quite common, but the procedure for synthesizing Crystal Meth results in volatile and toxic byproducts and gases. Thousands of people have died or been injured, and millions of dollars in damage has been caused by explosions resulting from the production of meth. Property values have been driven down, and urban decay has spread to many of the places where meth production has occurred.

It is difficult to ignore this terrible problem that has sprung up in the past couple of decades. While illicit amphetamine use has been around almost since this drug was first synthesized, use decreased in the 70s, as the effects became more known to the public. However, in the 90s, Crystal Meth saw a surge in popularity. Meth is extremely cheap to produce, and the rise in use resulted in thousands of makeshift production sites known as “Meth Labs” have popped up all across the US over the years, with a large concentration of them located in the Midwest. Amateur “bathtub chemistry” has turned basements, kitchens, garages, and even entire homes into Meth labs.

Also, those addicted to meth, without professional help, often end up losing their jobs, going broke, losing their families, and, in many cases, finding themselves homeless. This contributes to urban blight and causes a drag on our economy, with hospitalization and incarceration costs absorbed by taxpayers.

Crystal Meth’s Rise to Popularity

Even in the light of these numerous extreme dangers, meth maintains a level of popularity that is truly alarming. In a national survey of teens and young adults, around 35% of people aged 18-23 said that they had used methamphetamine. This same age group reported only about 7% had used cocaine and 12.5% had used heroin. That is a staggering disparity that can be explained by a couple of different factors.

The first thing we can look at to explain Crystal Meth’s popularity is the cost. Meth’s price is significantly lower per gram than cocaine, and while the cost is similar to heroin, the effects of meth last much longer per dose, which ends up making heroin more expensive. This is because Crystal Meth is usually produced using easy to obtain chemicals that can be found in most grocery and hardware stores. Manufacturing this drug is not expensive, and increased demand, in this case, does not drive up the cost, only the production level.

The second thing that we examine is the widespread availability and the ease of production. Since Meth is so cheap to make, many users move from buying it from a dealer to manufacturing it themselves. Unlike heroin and cocaine, which are mostly produced outside the US and smuggled into the country, a significant portion of the Crystal Meth used by Americans is manufactured right here in the US, making it extremely easy to find for those who are looking. There seems to be no end to the supply. When a dealer gets busted, or a meth lab gets shut down, ten more are ready to take its place.

Fighting Meth Use and Production in the US

Crystal Meth is, without a doubt, one of the worst drugs that we face in the battle against addiction. On the government level, Methamphetamine has been classified as a Controlled Substance, and the illegal production or use of meth is met by strict punishments, including fines and prison time. One of the ways that the government has taken measures to curb the production of Crystal Meth is to regulate sales of a key ingredient known as pseudoephedrine. All of the ingredients required to make meth are easily obtainable by common means except this one. It is found in nasal decongestants and allergy medicine, and can only be purchased from a pharmacy. Recent regulations regarding over-the-counter sales have had minimal effect. A determined addict or dealer will find the products they need one way or another.

A Government program known as NPLEx, or the National Precursor Log Exchange. The purpose of this program is to record and limit the amount of pseudoephedrine that a person can purchase. Over half of the country is enrolled in NPLEx, and it has helped tremendously in reducing the number of meth labs in the US. However, the popularity of Crystal Meth remains obscenely high, which tells us that production is still running rampant. If all 50 US states participated in NPLEx, the amount of pseudoephedrine available to meth producers, or “cooks,” would be drastically reduced. This might not stop the production of Crystal Meth completely, but it would be a heck of a start.

On the community level, education about the truth about methamphetamine and the dangers of drugs and alcohol has always been our biggest tool in the fight against addiction. By spreading knowledge and information, raising awareness, and offering support and assistance wherever and whenever you can, even average people can help greatly in the battle against Crystal Meth. Know the facts, speak out, raise awareness on the truth about methamphetamine, and support others in need. Together, we can beat Meth addiction and all other forms of addiction.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine or any other substance, please, pick up the phone and call us now. We can help. Call toll-free today for more information on addiction treatment options, or to learn more on the truth about methamphetamine.

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