Highly Addictive Meth Remains Easy to Acquire

Highly Addictive Meth Remains Easy to Acquire

One of the largest drug abuse problems in the U.S. is crystal meth, with nearly 12 million people – some as young as age 12 – reporting experimenting with the drug. Despite federal measures to try to limit the use of the drug, numbers continue to rise. Meth is relatively easy to acquire and less expensive than other drugs, but can create a path of destruction.

Normally known as a type of methamphetamine, crystal meth contains the stimulant drugs pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, known for providing bursts of energy. Methamphetamines can be legally prescribed for conditions like ADHD, but narcotic meth is the type produced illegally.

Key ingredients like pseudoephedrine are now restricted and many states now require anyone purchasing these items to show their driver’s license. While this has limited access by “cooks” who produce meth using allergy medications and other over-the-counter drugs that contain the core ingredients, the new laws have not had a noticeable effect on the creation and distribution of crystal meth. One reason for this is that Mexican drug cartels have filled the vacuum by smuggling in a vast supply of the drug.

Used for increasing energy and even weight loss, meth is a powerful combination of chemicals, and includes ingredients found in cold medicines, lithium batteries, and derivatives of alcohol. A home-based system for “cooking” up meth as powder, crystal particles or clumps called rocks can be established. Positive feelings created by meth can last up to 12 hours, adding to the drug’s popularity.

Because crystal meth has a direct effect on dopamine levels in the brain, similar to cocaine, it is quickly addictive. Brain spikes of dopamine can create incredibly strong cravings for meth, along with euphoric feelings, despite the consequences. Tolerance levels for meth are fast-established and the addict needs more and more of the drug to achieve a high.

Common ways the drug is taken include snorting through the nose in powder form, taken orally as a pill, by injection, or by smoking. Meth users can be recognized by a characteristic sunken-in face and jaw; they also have extremely dry skin and may scratch themselves frantically. This constant scratching can create facial marks and wounds that further identify the addiction.

As the drying components of the pseudoephedrine take effect, the gum line may dry up or recede, causing the jaw to fold inward and the teeth to grind together. Meth users are generally thin and may have unnatural levels of energy. Dizziness, perspiration, anorexia, tremors and heart rate or breathing problems may also occur. In severe cases, stroke and heart attacks can also be a consequence.

Emotionally, meth users may neglect their children and resort to crime to pay for their addiction. The user may experience aggression, hallucinations, high levels of paranoia and extreme mood swings. Adding to the danger of meth is that one inhaled dose can remain in the system for an entire day, and during withdrawal, violent tendencies, delusions, or suicidal behavior may occur.

Meth addicts should seek professional addiction help, especially in recovery facilities that treat the physical and emotional effects of the addiction. New programs are emerging that are specially designed to treat meth and help with recovery, including ways to deal with the strong cravings and how to prevent relapse. Like all drugs, overcoming meth addiction also requires very strong family support and can be a lifelong battle.

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