Meth in a nutshell


Meth in a nutshell

Meth is a stimulant drug that causes the central nervous system to be alert and the individual to be on the move. The growing popularity in the United States and in the world of meth is creeping upon us and even in the places it is least expected. Research has shown many causes for an individual to be addicted, the more prevalent to include its ability to increase pleasure, how habitual it can become and the impact and influence one’s social environment can have on them. Treatment options are available through detox, medications and residential rehabilitation facilities.

You see the pictures, the teeth missing, the messed up hair, but for some reason, the harsh reality of this drug still goes unknown. Methamphetamine is more common than we really know. “There is an estimated 24 million methamphetamine users worldwide” (Chomchai & Chomchai, 2015). “Despite its late arrival on the illicit drug market, methamphetamine use has reached epidemic proportions, superseding other ATS (amphetamine-type stimulants) in its popularity among users. It’s unprecedented production and trafficking all over the world has made a significant public health problem” (Chomchai & Chomchai, 2015).  The prevalence of this drug has surprisingly outgrown that of the more popularly known heroin. This could be a dangerous situation. The U.S. is one of the top three countries in which methamphetamine is prevalent. The truth of the matter is that it is not your stereotypical drug user anymore in the United States that uses this horrific drug anymore…it is widely used in Suburbia. This is known to be true due to entire studies being done in the Suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, in our own backyards (Boshears, Boeri & Harbry, 2011).

“Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that is known to greatly increase alertness, euphoria and sexual drive” (Brackins, Brahm & Kissack, 2011). “The effects of the drug can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours and side effects can include; anxiety, insomnia, irritability, paranoia and psychosis” (Brackins et al. 2011).

What are the causes of this raging addiction to this drug? A study was done among a sample of current methamphetamine users. Within the study, specific pre-clinical models of addiction were constructed to help understand the theory of addiction. These included: negative reinforcement (pain avoidance), positive reinforcement (pleasure seeking), incentive salience (craving), stimulus response learning (habits) and inhibitory control dysfunction (impulsivity) (Newton, De La Garza, Kalechstein, Tziortzis and Jacobsen, 2009). The results of the study showed that the largest portion of the sample used for the reason of positive reinforcement, simply “pleasure seeking”. This was an interesting finding for the researchers due to the fact that they were in the mind that “pain avoidance” and “cravings” would be among the highest scoring. In fact, it was the opposite, those two were actually the lowest (Newton et al., 2009). The second highest percentage for reasoning behind this samples drug use was due to habit. Based on this research study, for pleasure purpose and out of habit, this is why these meth users keep on using.

Another aspect of the cause of how users began their methamphetamine addiction is through their social environment. A research experiment done on a sample in suburban Atlanta came up with significant results regarding users and their social environment and how they were introduced into this horrifying addiction. Boshears et al., 2011 state, “Initiation into methamphetamine, according to our participants, always occurred in familiar social networks: family (including live-in partners), friends (including romantic and sexual relationships) and co-workers”. The participants gave testimony of parent’s friends being junkies and being introduced to the drug in that manner. One participant even told that their step-grandmother introduced the drug to her when she was 15 years old (Boshears et al., 2011). On the surprising side things, a 48 year male stated that his stepdaughter and her boyfriend introduced it to him. When it comes to this drug, there is no respecter of individuals. In this sociality of families it can effect anyone, any age.

An interesting concept that was brought up in the research was the concept of trust. That due to the trust between the individuals in the social network of the family or friends, those individuals that were introduced to the drug were easily influenced because of the “trust” factor. Another aspect of the social network is when starting a new relationship, whether a new circle of friends, or a new relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend). It is that wanting to be accepted. An individual will do almost anything (Boshear et al. 2011). Seeking out popularity can be dangerous, but when it involves a drug crowd, it can be life-threatening.

Also found in this study was methamphetamine use was done to keep up in the work environment, especially for those who had had long workdays. Supervisors would introduce the drug to their employees to keep them to task (Boshear et al., 2011).

For treatment options of methamphetamine addiction. There are pharma logical treatments and residential rehabilitation’s that are options. McKetin et al. (2012) states, “Community-based residential rehabilitation produced a large but time-limited reduction in methamphetamine use. Detoxification conveyed no benefit in reducing methamphetamine use at any follow-up relative to not receiving treatment. This is consistent with previous research, and suggest that detoxification should not be provided as a stand-alone service”. There are psychological issues that need to be dealt with and medically detoxing the body will not deal with these issues. Other treatments involve medications, but once again, should not be used alone. The physical issues need to be treated simultaneously with the psychological issues. The medications that can be used include the following; antidepressants and central nervous system stimulants to alleviate withdrawal symptoms during detox. Some of the common ones include: sertraline, bupropion, mirtazapine, modafinil, dextroamphetamine, ondansetron, risperidone, aripiprazole, baclofen and gabapentin (Brackins et al., 2011).

This popular drug is being used as a replacement for pleasure in life, which becomes a habit that cannot be broken unless the right treatment can be found. Even one’s very own social environment, their own family can be the very start of the horrifying addiction. Methamphetamine’s is a global problem and it is our own backyards. That is meth in a nutshell.


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