Drug Treatment

Meth Treatment Center

History Of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine may be the most understood major substance of abuse in the United States, perhaps due in part to its purely synthetic nature. Many US citizens can easily connect cocaine, marijuana and heroin to the plants they are derived and processed from, but most would find it hard to link meth back to its most basic precursor, the Chinese herb Ma Huang, or identify it with its many other precursor forms— ephedrine, ephedra, pseuodephedrine.

While Americans might recognize the names “speed,” “amphetamine” or “crank” as dangerous substances, few link these drugs to the appetite suppressants, energy enhancers or dietary supplements that share the same origins.

Additionally, methamphetamine does not have the national recognition of cocaine, opiates, or marijuana. In comparison to these drugs, meth is a relatively new age drug. It does not emerge in historical accounts in the United States before the 20th century, and there are no cultural ties to it. In contrast, methamphetamine has been primarily known to some as the favorite drug of Hitler, and present day motorcycle gangs.

Production of Meth

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “The growing use of the Internet, which provides access to methamphetamine “recipes,” coupled with increasing demand for high-purity product, has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of mom and pop laboratories in the United States. In 2001, the number of labs with capacities under ten pounds totaled over 7,700.”

There are indisputably thousands of these petty operations. Meth lab seizures have been reported in the 46 states, from around 6,700 in 1999 to over 10,000 in 2003. In recent years, seizures have declined somewhat in the West and Northwest, and increased substantially in Southwest and Midwest. Even in the Northeast, seizures increased from 94 to 143 from 2002 to 2003. Mom and Pop labs represent the largest proportion of labs seized—92% of the over 10,000 seizures in 2003 according to the United States Department of Justice.

The majority of operating labs are small producers, with low production proportions using local supplies. These “cooks” use extraction methods that can be produced by an individual with very little background in chemistry. “Mom and Pops” labs are referred to as small-scale toxic labs, or STLs. Small-scale labs by definition are those producing less than 10 pounds of meth in a “batch” or production cycle. However, STLs are dangerous to the neighbors, lab cooks, and law enforcement officers. They are popular because they are mobile, temporary, and difficult to detect, as chemicals used in production are easily obtained, and the profit margin makes the risks acceptable to meth “cooks.”

Methamphetamine Treatment

Methamphetamine is a stimulant substance that rapidly changes the body and nerve channels within it. When someone uses it they will change their own brain chemistry and modify the natural reward system in the body. The more the individual uses the more the natural reward system of the body is stopped. The only solution is to take more and more of the drug to feel good.

As a result of this side effects can include, causing prolonged anxiety, paranoia and sleeplessness. Meth users can experience psychotic breaks even years after they stop taking the drug. Many users also experience aggressive behavior, mood changes, and sometimes schizophrenic behavior.

Each of these effects is amplified both with higher doses and from extended use of the drug. In certain cases, the effect is what the user is seeking, energy, exhilaration, while in others it is an undesirable by-product of the drug; confusion or paranoia. It is the action of the drug on these all-important neural pathways that is the basis for many of the significant adverse effects associated with its use.

Methamphetamine, like many other stimulants affects multiple systems of the users body besides just the brain and nerve channels. The body responds to methamphetamine as if it were adjusting itself in a fight or flight emergency situation. The users metabolism increases, heart rate elevates, blood vessels constrict, pupils dilate, and body temperature rises. In accustomed responses to emergencies, these effects are short lived, and the body returns to normal when the crisis is over. With meth use, the effect is sustained for many hours, placing an extended burden on the renal, circulatory, nervous, and respiratory systems. Acute physical problems that come from this long period of being “hyper alert” include chills, palpitations, hyperthermia, hyper motor activity, kidney failure, mental confusion, tremors, and dizziness (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

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