Saturday, December 15, 2007

I - Why No War on Methamphetamine?

Why was the methamphetamine epidemic allowed to happen?

Methamphetamine abuse effects law enforcement, health, substance abuse providers, social services, jails and prisons and environmental and housing agencies at all levels of government. According to the National Association of County Officials, meth is the number one drug problem and crime source in the U.S..

Serious health and appearance problems are caused by unsterilized needles, lack of hygiene, the chemistry of methamphetamine (particularly when smoked), and especially pollutants in street-grade methamphetamine. The use of methamphetamine may lead to hypertension, damage to heart valves, vastly deteriorated dental health, and increased risk of strokes. Obsessive skin-picking by chronic methamphetamine users may lead to abscesses.

The Combat Methamphetamine Act went into effect last year and the first arrest under the act was made early this year. But minimal effort has been levied at the federal level to control Meth at the source - and this is all the more puzzling because the precursor chemicals, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine come from only 9 factories in the world. The DEA was aware of the dangers of this type of drug as early as 1980 when federal controls were put on phenyl-2-propanone, the key chemical needed to make amphetamine. In the mid-80s Gene Haislip, the DEA's number three man at the time, decided to go after the chemicals needed to make methamphetamine -- ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. But Haislip's solution was never fully tried because of opposition from the pharmaceutical companies who made cough and cold remedies containing the chemicals and didn't want regulation.

Methamphetamine is a powerful, addictive synthetic stimulant that causes the brain to release a surge of dopamine, creating a high that lasts from six to 24 hours. Like cocaine, meth comes in two forms: powder or rock. The powder form is usually white, odorless and bitter-tasting and can be snorted, smoked, eaten, dissolved in a drink and ingested, or heated and injected. The purer form of the drug, called "crystal," "glass" and "ice," appears as clear, chunky crystals that are usually smoked or injected. Meth can also come in small, colored tablets, but they are less common.

Methamphetamine causes the body to release large amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, resulting in a prolonged sense of pleasure or euphoria for the user; however, over time, this causes severe side effects. With repeated use, meth depletes the brain's stores of dopamine and actually destroys the wiring of the dopamine receptors. This is a major reason why users become so addicted to the drug; without it they are no longer able to experience pleasure (a condition known as anhedonia), and they usually slip into a deep depression. Although dopamine receptors can grow back over time, studies have suggested that chronic meth use can cause other permanent brain damage, such as declines in reasoning, judgment and motor skills.


Meth adiction said...

Methamphetamine goes by many other names including crack, ice, crystal, meth and glass. Due to the ease that crystal meth can be produced, it is readily available and, subsequently, use and abuse are increasing rapidly. .