Using Methamphetamine? You’re Not So “Bad”
Here’s a fun fact for people who don’t do drugs, but they know someone who does: There is a hierarchy that exists among drug users. For instance, the potheads look down on the cokeheads. Everybody looks down on the schmeckers or cotton shooters. Methamphetamine addicts fall somewhere pretty close to the bottom of the pile. You probably could call it a hierarchy of loser-ness.
Most drug users like to glorify the adventures they’ve had using their substance of choice. And the problem with movies and television shows that acquaint us with a cast of characters using, making, or selling drugs is that the drug use becomes minimized next to the central characters’ interpersonal dynamics and problems. When we were all tuned in for the next episode of Breaking Bad, people were pulling for Walter White even as he devolved into a monster.
So here’s a message for methamphetamine addicts out there: It ain’t glorious or cool, and you stand a good chance of dying unless you get into some kind of rehab facility. Let’s take a look at methamphetamine facts.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse tells us over 12 million people, about 4.7 percent of Americans, have experienced methamphetamine on at least one occasion. About 1.2 million admitted to use in the past 12 months. At last count, it was costing our government $24 billion annually.
Meth has been around since the early 1900s, and it came into greater use during World War II, when both the Allies and the Axis Powers gave it to their soldiers to keep them awake. It puts a whole new slant on the idea of the crazy Japanese kamikaze pilots bearing down on their targets, doesn’t it? After the war, college students used it when pulling all-nighters and housewives loved it for weight loss.
In the 1960s, an injectable form became popular, and by the 1970s the government had banned it for all intents and purposes, though it remains on the books as a Schedule II drug. It was not until the 1990s when the superlabs that we know today came into existence. Of course, not every lab out there is run by Walter White producing product that’s 99.7 percent pure: Meth averages about 70 percent purity, and the weekend cooks who shake and bake it on their stovetops put out some really nasty stuff. In Oklahoma, a porta-potty on a golf course blew up when someone left their stuff there too long. Talk about a hole in one.
Methamphetamine does some really bad things to people. Like many substances, it stimulates dopamine production in the user’s brain so that the user can no longer produce enough dopamine on his own. But meth is much worse; imaging studies on the brains of tweakers have demonstrated a reduction in motor skills and impairment in the parts of the brain that have to do with verbal learning, memory, and emotion.
Besides cognitive and memory problems, meth heads develop dry mouth, and they lack sufficient saliva to protect their teeth. In addition, they basically live off snacks and don’t have time for hygiene, so you see many smelly, skinny addicts with dirty, rotting teeth. They also have oozing or scabby sores on their skin because meth leads to itchiness leads to scratching.
Many people move beyond snorting or smoking it and begin injecting. Because of shared dirty needles, and because of poor judgment used in choosing sexual partners, more and more meth heads are showing up with HIV or AIDS.
If you know a methamphetamine addict, you need to talk to that person about getting help at a residential drug treatment facility. Because meth is often very concentrated, people become addicted quickly and they can’t kick it alone. Make the call today.