Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on methamphetamine abuse and addiction, leading to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Prevention Week, May 18-24.
So you decided to try meth.
Here comes the euphoria you heard about. It’s accompanied by feelings of invincibility, alertness and boundless energy – also just as advertised.
You find yourself staying awake for days at a time, seemingly without fatigue. Your sexual confidence soars.
A decrease in appetite leads to what seems to be an added “bonus” – weight loss.
But meth’s “smiley face” side is undermined by a grim reality. It destroys lives using ingredients that can include toxins like sulfuric acid, drain cleaner, anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer) and vehicle brake fluid.
The addicts the drug creates are doomed to a futile, empty life of trying to recapture the best meth experience ever – their first time.
“Meth addicts explain to me that it gives you the most euphoric high you’ve ever experienced,” DPS Senior Trooper Dub Gillum said.
A local recovering addict who abused illegal drugs over a 20-year period said, “I truly believe meth was created by the devil himself, and it’s one of his greatest weapons. Of all the drugs, I think it’s the most damaging on a person’s mind, body and soul.”
The initial rush from using methamphetamine can last between 6 and 12 hours, according to a PBS “Frontline” article posted online.
If you go on a binge over several days, you can count on crashing like a rock. Some have been known to sleep off the high over three days or more.
As you extend your wide-eyed meth binge, you realize something has changed. The craving isn’t satisfied the same as before. The rush and the high become more and more elusive.
“Each time the user smokes or injects more of the drug, he experiences another but smaller rush until, finally, there is no rush and no high,” according to Drug-Free World.com.
“Addicts call it ‘chasing the high.’ The first time you use it is the best high you’ll have,” Gillum said. “To compensate, you have to take more, more often – or use a higher grade.”
Instead of owning the meth you buy, the meth you buy owns you.
Meth’s stimulation may allow you to work longer and harder in some cases. But the craving for more of the drug may lead you to seek additional income to cover the expense.
Statistics show that up to 70 percent of property crimes are tied to meth use, according to Gillum.
The so-called “purity” of the meth determines the price. Gillum said that one-quarter of a gram of meth sells for anywhere between $20 and $80.
An easy theft of a purse from an unlocked car may lead to burglary of a building – or even breaking into someone’s home.
You’re in meth’s world – and it rules.
That’s why some drug counselors and law enforcement officials use the slogan “Not even once” when addressing those who have curiosity about using meth.
Meth – also called speed, crank and ice among many other names – is a highly addictive manmade chemical stimulant that affects the nervous system. It can be injected with a syringe, smoked, snorted or even swallowed.
Crystal meth, a purer version of the powder form, can result in a longer-lasting high.
Crystal meth can produce a euphoric high lasting up to 12 hours, according to Medical News Today.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, pleasurable effects of meth come from the release of high levels of dopamine. Dopamine helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, according to Psychology Today.
PBS “Frontline” stated that meth use releases about 12 times as much dopamine as other pleasurable activities such as eating or having sex.
“Then, when the drug wears off, users experience profound depression and feel the need to keep taking the drug to avoid the crash,” the PBS online article notes.
It adds that repeated use alters the brain’s chemistry, “making it increasingly impossible to experience any pleasure at all.”
With continued use, damage strikes the brain as well as other parts of the body.
“As crystal meth increases the amount of dopamine present in the brain, the body reacts by producing less dopamine and getting rid of dopamine receptors,” Pyschology Today explained.
Longterm meth use destroys the body’s ability to make both both dopamine and seratonin, Gillum noted.
As crazy as the pattern of abuse and binging sounds, the list of dangerous ingredients meth users put into their body reaches even greater heights of insanity.
Extracts from common cold remedy pills such as pseudoephedrine are often combined by meth “cooks” with various hazardous chemicals.
Gillum indicated that production of 1 pound of meth yields 4 to 6 pounds of toxic waste.
The results can get ugly.
Meth has been known to cause paranoia and hallucinations along with erratic and/or violent behavior. Other physical problems can include cracked teeth, severe itching and open sores on the skin. Heart failure, stroke and death can also result.
“The dental problems may be caused by a combination of poor nutrition and dental hygiene as well as dry mouth and teeth grinding caused by the drug,” stated an online article at www.drugabuse.gov. “Skin sores are the result of picking and scratching the skin to get rid of insects imagined to be crawling under it.”
A local recovering meth addict said, “I’ve seen people just ravaged by this drug, with the sores.”
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Part 2 Saturday: Meth abuse from the perspective of law enforcement officials.