Recent reports show that more than one quarter (27 percent) of California admissions for substance abuse treatment are related to amphetamines. In fact, the problem is pervasive among other western states as well. Admittance rates for stimulant drug treatment in those states tell the tale:
- Nevada – 25 percent
- Idaho – 25 percent
- Arizona – 18 percent
- Oregon – 16 percent
- Washington – 14 percent
Arrest records also point to a serious amphetamine drug problem:
- 36 percent of those arrested in San Diego, Calif. were found to have meth in their system
- 23 percent of those arrested in Portland, Ore. had meth in their system
- In April, a man was arrested at his home in Texas with 154 pounds of crystal meth and 125 gallons of liquid meth
On the street methamphetamine goes by many names. It is variously referred to as chalk, crystal, crank, tweek, fire, croak, white cross and crypto. Meth comes in chunks that look like a whitish or yellow rock. The drug is sometimes called glass because as pieces flake off the chunk they have the appearance of glass. The drug can be consumed by mouth, snorted, injected or smoked. When it is smoked or injected the drug delivers an immediate rush of pleasure, but one that lasts only a couple of minutes. When swallowed or snorted, meth provides a pleasant high that is not as intense but that lasts a while longer. People high on meth may become anxious, agitated, even aggressive. They often will not eat or sleep. The drug is highly addictive because the body develops a rapid tolerance to it, driving the user to need more and more in order to feel good.
Meth MouthMeth negatively affects the body in many ways.
When people are using it, meth makes them feel confident and attractive, but the drug quickly destroys one’s appearance. This is partly because the drug causes blood vessels to shrink, and without sufficient blood delivered throughout the body, parts of the body deteriorate.
The blackened, rotting teeth seen in meth mouth is a hallmark of meth use. Not only does meth interfere with the mouth’s blood supply, but it also dries up the salivary glands. A dry mouth along with an increase in cravings for high-sugar foods and less time spent in personal care combine to create an oral nightmare.
Of Mice and Meth
The Scripps Research Institute has released a study that suggests that cutting down on meth use could be as simple as jumping rope or going for a run. Previous research had shown that six weeks of running on an activity wheel reduced the amount of cocaine that laboratory rats would self-administer. The Scripps researchers wanted to see how exercise might influence meth craving. In the new study, lab rats learned to depress a lever in order to receive an intravenous dose of meth. As rats were allowed to spend more time on the exercise wheel, their interest in self-dosing with meth went down. The study shows how exercise could be used to help augment standard addiction therapy.