While it is not the most widely abused illegal drug, gram for gram, methamphetamine might be the most destructive.
Toxic Chemicals Found In Meth
Recipes differ, but each methamphetamine concoction is a malicious brew derived from cold medication that has been boiled, baked, basted and stewed in reactionary toxic substances like drain cleaner, chemical fertilizer, lighter fluid, brake fluid, lye, red phosphorus, acetone, lithium and sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. Naturally, none of this chemical junk is fit for human consumption, but these poisons help concentrate and “purify” the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in the cold medicine, transmuting it into something potent and devilish.
How Meth Works In The User’s Body
Whether smoked, snorted or injected, meth hits users with the force of a 10-ton Mack truck. It smashes bodies, minds, souls, hopes and dreams into smithereens, relentlessly and without mercy. When first consumed, the drug amps up the activity of the central nervous system by mimicking the effects of pleasure-producing chemicals in the brain. This leaves the person under its influence feeling euphoric and invincible, ready to conquer the world and absolutely convinced he or she has the power and strength of will to do so. Meth’s effects can last for several hours before subsiding, and hard-core tweakers have been known to go on benders that last for days.
As use escalates and addiction takes hold, meth incinerates neural pathways through chronic overstimulation, destroying the brain’s capacity to produce important mood-regulating chemicals. At that point, more and more meth must be consumed to keep the body going, but the drug’s effects only mask the process of biological degradation taking place.
Short And Long-Term Side-Effects Of Meth
In the short term, meth can cause:
- loss of appetite
- erratic and unpredictable behavior
- panic attacks
- coma or death from overdose
But in the long term, the destruction is even more thorough:
- malnutrition and eating disorders
- runaway tooth decay
- high blood pressure
- depression, psychosis
- permanent physical damage to the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and liver
Meth Abuse By The Numbers
According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 12 million Americans, or 4.7 percent of the population, have used meth. At the time of data collection, about 10 percent of this group had used it in the previous year, and about 400,000 had consumed it in the last month.
Since 1975, teen drug use has been tracked by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) through its Monitoring the Future reports. In the most recently published version, about 1 percent of school-age adolescents admitted that they had taken methamphetamine within the last 12 months, while 1.5 percent said they had tried the drug at least once. Since there are about 30,000 million adolescents in the 13-to-18 age range in the United States, this means that nearly one-half million of them have sampled meth and 300,000 have done so fairly recently. The good news is that meth consumption among teens has dropped significantly since the late 1990s, but whether this trend will continue is uncertain.
Dropping levels of consumption have been linked to tighter regulation of the over-the-counter medications used as precursors for the drug. This has made it increasingly difficult for home brewers to get their hands on the supplies they need to keep up with domestic demand. However, much of the slack in production has now been picked up by Mexican drug cartels, which have begun manufacturing massive quantities of meth for shipment across the border. The internationalization of the meth trade could cause supplies to jump dramatically in the near future, and a sudden rebirth in meth’s popularity is not out of the question.
The average lifespan of a regular meth user is just five to seven years, as overdose, drug-related health problems, lab accidents and incidents of drug-related violence all take their toll on this beleaguered and unfortunate group. This means that adolescents who get involved with methamphetamine in high school may have at best a 50/50 chance of making it through their college years alive if they continue to snort, smoke or inject this toxic killer on a daily or weekly basis.
Almost half of first-time users and up to three-fourths of those who try meth a second time report addiction-like cravings, as the six- to 12-hour high the drug produces leaves an immediate mark on the bodies and minds of its victims. So while it is encouraging that only about 1 percent of teens will have tried the drug in any given year, this still represents 300,000 young people who are flirting with addiction the moment they begin fooling around with meth.
Methamphetamine’s Chemical Formula For Death
Methamphetamines have carved out a small but sinister niche in the gallery of popular illegal drugs. All of the varieties of the drug are highly addictive, and they are lethal predators once they get their hooks into their vulnerable prey. They are like a chemical version of Russian roulette, only with much lower odds of survival.
Any young person showing even the slightest sign of meth addiction needs professional help today. Meth dependency is notoriously hard to treat, but the earlier evidence-based treatment can begin, the better an addict’s chances of recovery will be. With treatment for meth addiction, long-term commitment is essential; the tried-and-true combination of supervised detox, in-patient/outpatient therapy, peer group sharing, family therapy and continued follow-up counseling can help an adolescent overcome even the most horrific drug addiction, if the commitment to change is sincere.
Meth is a drug that should be avoided at all costs, and it is encouraging to note that meth use among teens appears to have dipped by about 25 percent over the last four years. And even if the genie is already out of the bottle, there is still hope for healing and recovery.
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