Addiction to METH

By: Nicholas W. LaRochelle

The History of Methamphetamines

Before Methamphetamine was produced there was a less potent drug named amphetamine which was developed on Germany soil in 1887. This drug set the Japanese up to produce methamphetamine in 1919, which is easier to make and much more potent. This new drug was used by the Japanese military because it allowed their troops to stay awake and made them feel superior in combat. High doses of Meth was given to many of the Kamikaze pilots in WWII to help them feel that what they are doing is going to further the Japanese assault. However when the war was done and the Japanese had lost, the surplus of all the military methamphetamine was sold to the public which caused a massive outbreak of addiction to the substance. In the 1950's it was prescribed as a diet aid or a way to get rid of depression. In the year 1970 it was ruled that meth was an outlawed substance in most cases which caused a lot of smuggling even to this day with Mexico and local biker gangs. Most of the production of the substance can be found in massive "labs" which are located mostly in California and can produce over 50 pounds of it in one weekend. Other small "labs" can be found in kitchens or basements of homes, apartments, and campers.

How do people become addicted?

Methamphetamine causes the brain to release massive amounts of dopamine in a short amount of time. This is why the drug is so addictive most accounts of meth addicts say that they were hooked on their first time trying it. Meth tends to absorb a persons life because without it the abuser could see their norms changing around due to the fact that their brain thinks that having the dopamine released from meth is the normal state. This causes a dependence on the drug which in most cases is very hard to become unaddicted to.

What Kind of Treatment is There?

The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction at this point are behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral and contingency-management interventions. Consequently, meth is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat and many die in its grip.

Statistics on Methamphetamine

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated the worldwide production of amphetamine-type stimulants, which includes methamphetamine, at nearly 500 metric tons a year, with 24.7 million abusers. The United States government reported in 2008 that approximately 13 million people over the age of 12 have used methamphetamine—and 529,000 of those are regular users.In 2007, 4.5% of American high-school seniors and 4.1% of tenth grade students reported using methamphetamine at least once in their life. In the United States, the percentage of drug treatment admissions due to methamphetamine and amphetamine abuse tripled from 3% in 1996 to 9% in 2006. Some states have much higher percentages, such as Hawaii, where 48.2% of the people seeking help for drug or alcohol abuse in 2007 were methamphetamine users.

The Price You Pay for Having an Addiction to Meth

Chronic abusers may exhibit symptoms that can include significant anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. They also may display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping under the skin). Psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit abusing methamphetamine.



SHORT-TERM EFFECTS

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
  • Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Convulsions, seizures and death from high doses

LONG-TERM EFFECTS

  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed
  • Respiratory (breathing) problems if smoked
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
  • Malnutrition, weight loss
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
  • Strong psychological dependence
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Damage to the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and epilepsy