Meth Addiction by lanyuehua


									                            Methamphetamine Addiction   1

Methamphetamine Addiction

    Corissa Aufderhar

Pharmacology, MA161, ER1

     Lynne Hendrick

    November 8, 2010
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                                      Methamphetamine Addiction


       Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug that can be smoked, injected, swallowed orally, or snorted

through the nose. It is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that is highly addictive, and creates

the same effect as adrenaline in the body; but at a more intense level. This extreme level of euphoria,

power, and extreme amounts of energy can last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, depending on the route in

which it was taken. (Frontline, 2006). It is 100 times more addictive than Marijuana, alcohol, or


                                             Names for Meth

       Generally, Meth comes in three different forms (Masto, 2010):

           1. Powder: White, oderless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder, easily dissolved in water or

                alcohol, or can be heated and injected.

           2. Crystal: A very pure form of crystalline Meth, usually melted down and smoked or


           3. Rock: Large chunks of meth, usually yellowish in color. This form is generally ingested


       Medically, Meth is referred to as Methamphetamine, Methylamphetamine, or Desoxyephedrine.

It is a Schedule II stimulant, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and is only available in a one-

time prescription, meaning no refills can be offered. It has very limited medical use, some of which

include treatments for narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder, and as a short-term treatment for obesity.

(NIDA, 1998).

       Illegal or street Meth is created in a multi-step cooking process that takes roughly 48 hours. Its

main ingredient is ephedrine or pseudeophedrine, which can be found in many over-the-counter cold

and allergy meds. Its other ingredients can be found in many everyday household items like ammonia,
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lye, and red phosphorous scraped from matchbook covers. (Frontline, 2010). Its street names include

Speed, Meth, Ice, Crystal, Chalk, Crank, Tweak, Uppers, Black Beauties, Glass, Biker's Coffee,

Methlies Quick, Poor Man's Cocaine, Chicken Feed, Shabu, Crystal Meth, Stove Top, Trash, Go-Fast,

Yaba, and Yellow Barn. (U.S. DEA, 2010).

                                            User Populations

       According to Frontline (March, 2006), there are 1.4 million Meth users in the United States, and

this number is quickly on the rise. Generally, Meth use has been linked to white blue-collar working

males located in rural areas of the western United States. But, with Meth quickly making its way to

East coast, the population of users has diversified. The National Association of Counties reports that

use is on the rise among high school students, college students, white and blue-collar workers, along

with those who are unemployed. Still, vastly more men have tried Meth than women, and a much

higher percentage of these males are white compared to those who are African-American, Latino, or



       The National Institute of Health has awarded The UCLA School of Dentistry $1.86 million to

continue research on the relationship between Meth use and increased dental disease. Through their

research, they would like to make the argument that dental care should be part of the intervention

process, and that an increase in dental disease is a prominent marker for Meth use. Their findings will

hopefully result in an increase in public education about the effects of Meth on dental health, and

promote continuing education activities for dentists. (Palmer, 2010).

       Another recent research project, headed by James Cunningham, a social epidemiologist and a

Fulbright Scholar at the University of Arizona, has found that Meth's potency is the strongest at the

Mexican border, and that laws limiting the purchase of Meth-making chemicals are working, by

drastically reducing the amount of Meth that is making its way across the Mexican border. (Pallack,
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2010). These laws limit the amount of pseudoephedrine a person can legally get their hands on.

Since these laws went into effect, police in Arizona have reported a steep decline in the number of

small home labs, making general areas much safer to live in. As more laws go into effect, each one

seems to bring the amount of Meth being distributed in Arizona down, little by little.


       Research has found that those individuals addicted to Meth often require a much longer and

more intense inpatient program than those addicted to any other drugs. They often cannot get clean

without an extended stay in an inpatient treatment facility. This same research has also found that the

most effective course of treatment for addicts is cognitive behavioral therapy; and the only program

that has shown to be truly effective in the treatment of Meth addiction is the Matrix model. These

types of therapies work by changing the addict's thinking, expectancies, and behaviors. It also aims to

change the person's ability to cope with all of life's stressors. Currently, there are no medications to

help an addict kick their Meth habit.

       The Matrix model, created in the 1980's, has a program length of three-to-six months, consisting

of a minimum of three group or individual therapy sessions a week, where patients are couched through

their recovery process. They are taught coping skills, how to deal with cravings, how to avoid risky

behaviors that could cause them to relapse. They are also involved in family therapy, urine tests to

prove their sobriety, and the basic 12-steps program. (Sommerfeld, N/A)

       Not only does an individual addicted to Meth need treatment to get off the drug, but unlike other

drugs, the recovering Meth addict usually needs therapy to repair memory and concentration problems

the drug may have caused, and also time-management skills to help those who live a chaotic life, which

generally accompanies those who are addicted to stimulants like Meth. (Sommerfeld, N/A).

       When withdrawing from the drug, the person generally does not feel the severe physical effects
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of withdrawal, like those addicted to Cocaine or Heroin, instead, they go through a period of deep

depression, where the individual lacks the ability to get enjoyment from anything in their life, that can

last for as long as six months. It is believed that during this time the brain is trying to restore its own

dopamine levels, since the drug is so depleting on the brain's store. (Sommerfeld, N/A).

                                                 Case Study

       At the age of 15, Jenny Jackson took her first hit off a Meth pipe. Within two years, she had left

her home to live on the streets to feed her every day, multiple-times-a-day addiction. She found the

high of Meth as Euphoric and a way to escape the memories of her highly abusive childhood. Over the

next 14 years, she spent much of her time either shooting Meth or looking for her next hit of the drug.

       She slowly started to notice the amount of damage she was doing to her body. She often stayed

awake for days or weeks at a time, causing her immune system to get weaker and weaker. She easily

contracted colds that quickly turned into pneumonia. At other times, she would inject so much of the

drug at one time, she'd have violent seizures. The need for the drug was so strong, she would forget to

eat and drink for days, causing her to rapidly lose weight, making her skin hang on her bony figure. In

her interview with Mail Tribune, she was quoted as saying: "My ex used to tell me that I looked like a

sucked-up Safeway chicken with string-bean legs — the skin just hanging...but I could always tuck the

skin in."

       At times she would become so dehydrated, finding a vein to shoot into was impossible. In these

instances, she would instead inject into her neck or breasts. After a time, the drug began to seep

through her pores, causing severe acne, and large boils. Her hair would fall out in clumps. "So you try

to clean up your face, and that’s where the pick marks come in," she said, referring to the scabs that dot

the faces of "tweakers."

       After seven years of use, Jenny started to notice changes in her teeth. Soft, brown pockets
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started forming on her front two teeth, much like bad spots on an apple. Picking at the spots, she found

her teeth were beginning to rot at the gum line. As her use continued, abscesses in her mouth would

form, filling it with puss. The only way to relieve the mess was to pull the teeth out; often three or four

at a time. She finally decided to just have her remaining 18 teeth pulled.

       At print time, Jenny had been sober for the past 17 months. Even though she has found

sobriety, the lasting effects of Meth are still present. Her skin is scarred, her muscle tone is nearly

gone, and her mouth aches constantly.

       Not only has her drug use had lasting effects on her health, but she also caused permanent

damage to her now-11 year old daughter. During the height of her drug use, she was unaware she was

pregnant, and continued to use the drug until she was nearly six months along. Babies who are exposed

to Meth in the womb are often born with smaller brains, low birth weight, and higher instances of

ADHD and learning disabilities.

       Jenny's daughter was born with a number of mental disorders, causing her to spend time in two

different state-run centers for children with severe behavioral disorders. During Jenny's last relapse a

year and a half ago, she saw her daughter's rage over having to be put into a foster home. That memory

prompted Jenny to get her act together, and she swears she is done using for good. She now lives with

the guilt of damaging her child, and wants to be there for her as much as she can be; drug free.

       Full dentures have helped to return some of Jenny's self-confidence, and at 5'5” and 180

pounds, she calls herself “chunky and real healthy”, instead of missing her slim figure she had during

her user days. A 2 year-old photo of her former skeletal self-wearing pink lipstick to try and draw

attention away from her collapsed in cheeks, along with smart-looking glasses to hide her blank stare-

reminds Jenny of how far she really has come. "I get sick to my stomach, I could almost throw up over

it," she said pointing to the photo.

       Yet the damage for Meth still remains, making it hard for her to accept compliments from
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people who, meeting her for the first time, who say she doesn’t look like an addict.
"Well, not today I don’t," Jenny jokes. "Some days I’m a grateful recovering addict. Today, I’m just an
    Story adapted from:
                        (June 12th, 2005)
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Frontline. (2006, March 22). The Meth Apidemic. Frontline. Retrieved November 6th, 2010 from:

Masto, C. (2010, December 3). The Basics of Meth. Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada Attorney

       General. Retrieved November 8th, 2010 from: (N/A). Effective Treatment. Retrieved December 3rd from:

NIDA Research Report. (1998, April). Methamphetamine. Drugs TV. Retrieved November 6th, 2010


Pallack, B. (2010, August 3). UA Research: Controlling Ingredient of Meth Works. Arizona Daily

       Star. Retrieved November 13, 2010 from:


Palmer, C. (2010, July 13). NIH Invests $1.86 Billion in “Meth Mouth” Research. ADA: American

       Dental Association. Retrieved November 6th, 2010 from:

Sommerfeld, J. (N/A). Beating an Addiction to Meth. Retrieved December 3rd, 2010 from: .

U.S. DEA. (2010, March). Methamphetamine. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved

       November 8th, 2010 from:
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