Drug abuse is one of the most challenging of problems facing the globe; Startling statistics show that more youths are increasingly getting actively involved in drug abuse. These drugs include alcohol, club drugs, cocaine, and heroin, inhalations, LCD (acid), marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy), PCP (Phencyclidine), Prescription medications, Steroids (anabolic), tobacco addiction, and Methamphetamine. Over 50 million are approximated to be regular consumers of drugs by the UN according to the (BBC) The British Broadcasting Corporation (2000). Methamphetamine is one of the rampant drugs in the United States and Canada. This paper attempts to examine whether its consumption rate, effects, popularity, characteristics of users, and its treatment options.
Methamphetamine, a drug with numerous street names such as ice, among others ((DEA) the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, 2006), is a fragrance-free, colorless, bitter-flavored, crystalline, fine powder, which is very soluble in water or alcohol. It is admission is by, oral, snorting, smoking, and injection (Drug Addiction, 2010). Impure Methamphetamine is yellowish and becomes whiter with purity, it is classified as a Schedule II drug due to its high abuse potential. The structure of Methamphetamine is like that of amphetamine except for how they work in people. The drug is made easily in clandestine laboratories with moderately low-cost ingredients ((NIDA) National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010, p1). Methamphetamine is widely abused because of its moderate cost and availability, It is rarely prescribed by doctors and if done, then in lower proportions than is widely abused. Although the drug can be made in small, illegal laboratories, it is mostly sourced from domestic or foreign super-labs.
Methamphetamine drug has had a periodic history of abuse due to its popularity as a recreational drug (Anglin M.D, Burke C, Perrochet B, Stamper E, Dawud-Noursi S, 2000). The abuse of methamphetamine has dropped considerably in teens in 2009 the lowest in ten years, according to the 2009 Monitoring the Future survey(NIDA, 2010). The high school seniors reporting past-year use was only 1.2% while in 1999 it was 4.7%, that of 8th graders and 10th graders was 1.6% down from 2.3% and 14% from 19.5 respectively. The low cost and recreational aspect of the drug have fuelled its popularity among the youths and the relatively poor since they can easily afford it. The last 40 years have summed it as the tone of the most prevalent drug in the United States. According to data from (NCADI) National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (2009), death from methamphetamine overdoses rose by 125% in the period 1998-2002 while hospital emergency visits doubled by 2000, group worst affected was that between 12 and 17year olds. Its users are now found in the east and the Midwest although it was initially in the rural areas (The New York Times, 2010, par 1). Areas with specific problems seem to have more users like in the west coast and Hawaii. Statistics given by the ((NSDUH) National Survey on Drugs Use & Health, 2009) also show that approximately 10 million people aged 12years and above have abused methamphetamine in their lifetimes.
The way of admission of Methamphetamine also affects the reactions that occur in the users, flash or rush is mostly associated with those who abuse it by smoking or injection, while euphoria is with the oral or snorting. Orally taken or snorted ones produce euphoria effects within 15 to 20 minutes. The user then tries to maintain the high spirits by continual taking; this increases the concentration of the drug in the brain and can cause adverse effects, even death (Drug Addiction, 2010).
The drug increases the release of dopamine(neurotransmitter) in the brain by increasing its release and blocking its reuptake, leading to its high levels in the brain, dopamine is involved in the reward, experience of pleasure, motivation, and motor function, it, therefore, follows that its rapid release brings about intense euphoria or rush that is felt by the users. Addiction can drastically alter brain functions impairing verbal learning; chronic users can also have a loss of memory and even chronic relapse which can be reversed with one or more years of abstinence (NIDA, 2010).
Taking of little portions of the drug also has its effects occur for a short period, the user may experience a rush, maybe aggressive, sleeplessness, restlessness, decreased desire for food, uneasiness, anxiety, and even heart attack, the long term effects may include addiction, loss of appetite (users may go without food and sleep taking more methamphetamines every few hours for days), paranoia, repetitive behavior, hallucinations and delusions of parasites crawling under the skin. Higher dosages can lead to full-blown toxic psychosis (violent behavior), stroke, and even death. Other consequences can be the transmission of HIV and hepatitis B and C, which can alter judgment and inhibition leading to the risk of engaging in unsafe behaviors that can transmit HIV (NIDA, 2010).
Methamphetamines are different from the other psychostimulant drugs like amphetamine and cocaine in their basic mechanisms of work in the nerve cells. Whereas cocaine is removed from the body fast after admission, methamphetamine residue remains in the body for long causing prolonged stimulation, during this time, the methamphetamines remain in the brain and this is also risky as it can alter the mindset with time and could lead to relapse, on the other hand, the short time taken by cocaine in the body fastens the clarity of the brain and a user who is experimenting can easily come out of it since its reactions have very little effect compared to that of methamphetamine. Moreover, its structure is also different from cocaine (Drug Addiction, 2010).
Methamphetamine treatment is currently difficult as it has no drugs, but it can be reversed by abstinence and changes in behavior, giving reward to those who are actively applying the process of its reversal is a way of encouraging more people to abstain, others may include counseling and education by the family, getting involved in duties that do not involve the use of drugs, like sports and going for tests. Methamphetamine users can get help from national, state, and local methamphetamine rehabilitation centers, hotlines, and referral centers throughout the United States. (Methamphetamine-treatment, 2010).
It is worth noting that although the recent survey shows a slight drop in methamphetamine addiction, care should be taken to mitigate their use since the consequences like, stroke, heart attack show the dangers of its usage. People should take great care to avoid this drug; its effects as has been shown above are long-term because it remains in the brain. Teens should especially be protected from it for a better future for the nation and the ultimate call is for the parents who must shield the most affected of the victims. Methamphetamine is a real risk, stay away!
Anglin M.D, Burke C, Perrochet B, Stamper E, Dawud- Noursi S. (2000) History of The Methamphetamine Problem; J Psychoact Drugs; 32:37.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). (2000). The Global Drugs Trade. Web.
Drug Addiction. (2010). Web.
Methamphetamine-Treatment. (2010). Web.
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI). (2010). Web.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2010). Web.
National Survey on Drugs Use & Health (NSDUH) Methamphetamine Addiction (2009). Web.
The York Times. (2010).Methamphetamines. Web.
United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). (2006).Methamphetamine. Web.