Drug abuse and addiction is rapidly spreading across the country. New drug addicts are born every day. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol is increasing among younger aged Americans. There is an entirely new generation of drug addicts in this country. American boys and girls, between the ages of 18 and 25, are increasingly falling victim to drug addiction. Drugs of all varieties can be found in nearly every community from border to border and ocean to ocean. Methamphetamines are one dangerous drug out of several others. Meth, as it is normally called, is considered one of, if not the most, dangerous drugs on the planet. Heroin is up there on the list of dangerous drugs, but the unique characteristics of meth make it even more dangerous.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, or meth for short, can be found in two forms: Crystal or Powdered. Crystal meth is the more pure form of the drug and is found as an opaque crystallized rock, which is abused in various ways. It is also known as “ice”, “crystal”, or “crystal meth”. Powdered meth is found in a powder form. It is also known as “speed” or “Tina”. This form of the drug is created in powder form to be less-potent, bitter-tasting, which can be snorted, smoked, eaten, dissolved in drink, or heated and injected. The similarities of the two forms of the drug are in the effect. The drug creates a false sense of well-being and happiness. The user feels a surge or rush, increased feelings of energy, confidence, and wakefulness. The effects of the drug normally last six to eight hours, but the drug can be modified to last twelve hours.

Production of Methamphetamine

The true danger of meth is that it is easily accessible, widely available, easy to use, and its production. Meth is dangerous because it can be created in any make shift lab or kitchen. The drug is created with normal household products. It can be made with two cheap chemicals in two days. The main ingredient in meth is Pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, which are found in many over-the-counter cold remedies. These cold medicines are mixed with other drugs that isolate the Pseudoephedrine or ephedrine; they are cooked, and then processed for consumption. The other materials used in meth production are anhydrous ammonia, lye, and red phosphorous (found on the backs of matches). The process of making or cooking meth is dangerous due to the volatile mixtures. The vapors are toxic and chemicals are explosive.

Meth Addiction and Statistics

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that attacks the Central Nervous System, which is similar to the structure of amphetamine. Meth is classified as a Schedule II drug due to its high potential for abuse, which is legal through a prescription. The legal uses for meth are minimal, those that are legal are extremely low and prescriptions cannot be refilled. Methamphetamine abuse is a serious issue in the United States, consequences of its use is devastating to the abuser. Over 12 million people have used methamphetamines in their lifetime, according to a 2012 survey done by the National survey on drug use and Health. Approximately 1.2 million people used methamphetamines within the past year leading up to the survey. Beyond the severe consequences methamphetamines cause to the user, the effects of its abuse on the community/society are much worse. In 2009 the RAND Corporation stated that methamphetamine use cost the nation $23.4 billion in 2005.

How Someone Becomes Addicted to Meth

While the first experience of meth can have some pleasure, from the beginning it starts to destroy your life. The effect of meth is highly concentrated, which for some say is the reason they were hooked immediately after their first use. The effects last six to eight hours, but have been reported to last up to twenty-four hours. The intense rush of well-being, false sense of happiness, and confidence is what creates a meth addict. These individuals feel invincible after taking meth. Meth produces large amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine to release in the brain. This causes the extended period of pleasure. At first these sensations are good, but over time the drug depletes the brains dopamine and destroys the construction of the dopamine receptors. Repetition of consuming meth causes the user to deplete nearly all the dopamine and dopamine receptors in the brain. In the end they become addicted because they cannot feel pleasure because of the low dopamine levels and dopamine receptors.

Signs and Symptoms

-Anxiety
-Confusion
-Mood disturbances
-Violent behavior
-Psychosis
-Delusions: like insects crawling under the skin.
-Hallucinations
-Long term: reduced motor skills, impaired vocal learning, emotional damage, cognitive damage.
-Increased wakefulness
-Increase physical activity
-Decreased appetite
-Rapid heart rate
-Irregular heart beat
-Increased respiration
-Increased blood pressure
-Increased body temperature
-Extreme weight loss
-Dental problems (meth mouth)
-Skin sores: caused by scratching
-HIV
-Hepatitis b and c
-Insomnia
-Social isolation
-Impulsiveness
-Mounting legal issues
-Violent behaviors
-Appetite depression
-Aggression
-Tweaking

Co-Occurring Disorders

What most people do not understand is that disorders that caused or were the result of drug abuse and addiction make the situation much worse. Most meth addicts suffer from mental illnesses. Mental illnesses that occur as a result or contributing factor of meth abuse are called co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring mental disorders include, but are not limited to:

-Depressive disorders
-Anxiety disorders
-Bipolar disorder
-Schizophrenia
-Conduct disorders
-Antisocial personality disorder

Importance of Getting Help

Meth was once considered a rural mid-west problem because the available space and privacy that is enjoyed by the middle states. Recent studies have shown that the drug is slowly spreading to inner cities and white collar workers. It is now being considered a club drug. Recent estimates state that approximately 1.4 million people abuse the drug. The cause of addiction is still unknown, but professionals believe it to be a combination of several factors: genetics, biology, environment, and psychology.

Recognizing these signs and symptoms of meth abuse is pivotal in getting the addict the help they need in time. Meth abuse is very dangerous, not just to the addict, but to the entire community. Where meth is abused there have been correlated increases in crime. The entire community suffers from methamphetamine abuse. Scientists have been conducting experiments in attempting to help those addicted to meth and have been slowly succeeding. Combinations of mental, physical, and biological treatment are needed to help meth addicts reach sobriety. If you know someone who is abuse meth seeking professional help is the first step in better the addict’s life. It is imperative that you keep yourself and the family safe from the individual abusing meth. Creating a support system of the addict and the family is best for the safety of everyone involved.