Methamphetamine It is highly addictive and illegal,Methamphetamine It is highly addictive and illegal,

Methamphetamine
(meth) is a “powerful, highly addictive
stimulant drug that dramatically affects the central nervous system” (“Meth
Awareness,” n.d.). It is highly addictive
and illegal, yet many still find their way towards abusing the drug. It comes in many forms:
it can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected with a hypodermic needle
(“Meth Awareness,” n.d.). It has harrowing and long
lasting effects on a user, and the effects of addiction expand beyond the user. Family members, friends,
and loved ones all have to suffer with an addiction to meth. It is no easy feat
watching someone self-destruct with no way to help them. 

Meth affects
individuals in every aspect of their lives. This paper will analyze the pharmacology of meth as it affects one’s
ability to function in society, and often leads to criminal activity. Initially usage takes control of an individual physically,
mentally, and emotionally. Eventually those side
effects can cause one to act out in behavior’s that will illicit negative
consequences. As drug usage is a
thriving epidemic, these phenomena create a societal disaster.  

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The Pharmacology

Unlike other
street drug, meth is not plant-based. It is man-made, and can include any number of store bought ingredients. This makes it highly dangerous and full of harmful
chemicals, setting it apart from other classifications of drugs. The most common ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine
(ephedrine), but it can also include ether, paint thinner, Freon, acetone,
anhydrous ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery
acid, and lithium. (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.).

Pharmacokinetics

 Meth is a stimulant, and
when it reaches the brain it triggers it to produce large amounts of dopamine,
creating a feeling of euphoria (“Meth
Awareness,” n.d.).  

Pharmacodynamics

 Unlike cocaine, amphetamines enter the neuron;
in fact, cocaine blocks methamphetamine uptake (Vocci and Appel, 2007). Once inside the neuron, it is accepted widely that the
cardinal site via which methamphetamine ultimately affects synaptic dopamine is
via the vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2, vide infra) (Vocci and Appel, 2007). VMAT2 is one of a class of mammalian ‘amine handling’
proteins (Vocci and Appel, 2007). It is expressed on intracellular secretory granules (vesicles) of
dopaminergic as well as serotonergic, noradrenergic, adrenergic and
histaminergic neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and facilitates
monoamine neurotransmitter storage in the neuron’s secretory vesicles (Vocci
and Appel, 2007)

Once meth has
been administered into the blood stream, and compromised the function of VMAT2,
methamphetamine neurotoxicity takes place (“Meth
Awareness,” n.d.). This may explain observed cognitive impairment. Additional side effects include increased alertness, loss
of appetite, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, aggression, depression, etc (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.). More severe reactions
include but are not limited to paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and
sometimes thoughts of harming oneself or others (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.). Two of the most obvious physical side effects are
corrosion of teeth and gums, due to reduction in saliva; and the open sores created
from the user picking at their skin. Of course, the most emergent cases of use can end in death, due to overdose,
or damage to major organs (“Meth
Awareness,” n.d.).  

Sociocultural Issues

         With regard to the aforementioned side effects, the general
public does not respond well to many, if not all listed. Additionally, most current and recovering addicts
experience psychiatric symptoms, or suffer from a psychological disorder. Whether or not the disorder was a pre-existing condition
is not always clear.

 A major national dialogue over the last decade
has occurred on how best to address the issues of co-occurring mental disorders
in substance users (Zweben et al., 2004). Several national
initiatives have concluded that co-occurring disorders are the norm, not the
exception, and treatment systems must be modified accordingly (Zweben et al., 2004). The scope of the study
did not permit obtaining specific DSM-IV diagnoses in a consistent manner for
the entire cohort (Zweben et al., 2004).  However, the data
from this study confirm the presence of serious psychiatric symptoms and
conditions that other studies have shown will need to be addressed effectively
to maximize treatment engagement, retention, and effectiveness (Zweben et al., 2004).

         Regrettably, many of the long-term side consequences of meth
use (i.e. paranoid ideation, obsessive compulsion, hostility, interpersonal
sensitivity, etc.) resemble symptoms often
associated with schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder (Zweben et al., 2004).  Therefore, conclusive diagnosis and treatment
can be difficult to ascertain. Once an addict is in
recovery mode (meaning they are obtaining from using), they are even more
susceptible to bouts of depression, and a continued belief that they should
endure punishment and criticism from family and friends (Zweben et al., 2004).  Often times these are long-term, if not
permanent character defects. This is attributed to
the damage done to the dopamine receptors in the brain (Zweben et al., 2004). 

         Recovery or rehabilitation can be both humiliating and
alienating. In most cases a sober
addict goes through a series of steps that help them acknowledge, accept, and
apologize for any wrong-doings they may have done while using. The road to sobriety can often be stalled by their family
and/or friends’ inability to forgive, or even accept them as a thriving member
of society once again. This may lead to a
relapse back into the life of drug induced euphoria, and only mildly resembles
reality. Predictably, this makes
the next attempt at sobriety even more difficult, due to renewed feelings of
inadequacy and failure.

         As a society, we are not visibly accepting of those with
mental disorders. In contrast, most people
who exhibit signs of a behavioral disorder are stigmatized by it. The most established definition regarding stigma is
written by Erving Goffman (2009) in his seminal work: Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Goffman (2009) states that stigma is “an attribute that is
deeply discrediting” that reduces someone “from a whole and usual person to a
tainted, discounted one.” The stigmatized, thus,
are perceived as having a “spoiled identity” (Goffman, 2009). In the social work literature, Dudley (2000), working
from Goffman’s initial conceptualization, defined stigma as stereotypes or
negative views attributed to a person or groups of people when their
characteristics or behaviors are viewed as different from or inferior to
societal norms. Due to its use in social
work literature, Dudley’s (2000) definition provides an excellent stance from
which to develop an understanding of stigma. (Ahmedani, 2011).

         Imagine what it must feel like to be an addict in recovery. If the general population is not even willing to accept
and embrace those suffering from mental illness, how then can we expect drug
addicts to come forward and ask for help. The fact of the matter is most people suffering from drug addiction or
alcoholism developed the dependency because they already suffered from mental
illness, or a traumatic event. Instead of seeking help,
they attempt to self-medicate, and only succeed in further stigmatization. That is tragic and heart breaking.

         Even more appalling is the fact that most mental and
behavioral disorders are not a result of one’s own life choices. They are often genetic, or a condition of their
developmental environment. Because people tend to
blame and label anyone who does not conform to societal norms,
unconventionality in any form is stigmatic.

         The most discouraging situations are those in which the
addict does not acknowledge they have a problem, or that their lives have become
unmanageable. It is not until
understanding and acceptance is obtained that an addict can move on to get
sober and succeed at recovery. This is a challenging
task, and many succumb to addiction, eventually letting it them kill them. This is the sad reality surrounding drug addiction, and
it is something that will not go away with continued availability of illegal
street drugs. In the meantime, we can
help victims of addiction and their families try to become sober and move on
with their lives. 

Rehabilitation

         Withdrawal from meth has some physical symptoms but is
typically not debilitating. It is primarily
psychological and emotionally taxing. However, the mental turmoil one goes through once the drug wears off, and
for a time after, can lead to relapse or harmful behavior. Comedown symptoms include:

·    Hopelessness

·    Sadness

·    Depression

·    Muscle Weakness

·    Decreased appetite

·    Fatigue

·    Lack of motivation

·    Anxiety

·    Insomnia despite
exhaustion

·    Headache from dehydration

·    Muscle pain, especially
in the jaw from clenching

“It is important to
understand the symptoms of a comedown from stimulant drugs like met because
many people who begin to abuse these drugs take more as the comedown symptoms
begin to set in. this leads to binges,
which can cause a deadly overdose or long-term harm to the brain and body” (“Crystal
Meth Awareness,” n.d.).

Thanks to the
growing members of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous addicts have a
strong group of like-minded people who are willing to provide support and
encouragement. It is an institution
that originated in 1975, and was founded by men who saw a likeness in each
other, and recognized what plagued them as a disease. Through a 12-step program, unselfish attitude, a heart
for helping others, and most importantly spiritual guidance, this program has
managed to help millions gain and keep sobriety.

         Another source of rehabilitation is obviously through
clinical therapy and medication supplementation. The most effective therapeutic medications for meth addicts has proven
to be helpful are Bupropion, an antidepressant that appears to reduce the
cravings associated with meth withdrawal; Modafinil, a mild stimulant that is primarily
used to treat ADHD; Paroxetine, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor; and
Mirtazapine, an antidepressant. 

Legal Issues

The picture
is clear: drug crimes have been the predominant reason for new admissions into
state and federal prisons in recent decades. In every year from 1993 to 2009, more people were admitted for drug
crimes than violent crimes (Rothwell, 2015). In the 2000’s the flow of incarceration for drug crimes exceeded
admissions for property crimes each year (Rothwell, 2015). Nearly one-third of total prison admissions over this
period were for drug crimes (Rothwell, 2015).

         Not only do drug related crimes impede our prison system,
but based off proven research, people under the influence of drugs are often
the perpetrators in seemingly unrelated crimes (Rothwell, 2015). More specifically, individuals under the influence of
methamphetamine exhibit such volatile behavior patterns, surely it is
conceivable that they are also guilty on multiple drug related crimes
(Rothwell, 2015). As mentioned, the side
effects of meth include, but are not limited to cognitive impairment, increased
alertness, loss of appetite, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, aggression, depression,
paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and sometimes thoughts of harming oneself
or others.

         One of the most important factors to remember is that a meth
addict will feel panic and anxiety once withdrawals set in. In most circumstances individuals who abuse meth are
already living a life without boundaries or stability. Without a job, a vehicle, and the means with which to
support their habit, they will do whatever it takes to get their next fix of
the drug. Additionally, lack of
sleep has its own set of side effects. Without sleep, eventually someone loses the ability to make rational
choices.

         In recent years more drug programs have been introduced and
implemented, to help offenders rehabilitate, and resume a functional productive
position in society. Some examples include
drug court, in-prison treatment programs, intense probation, and diversion
therapy (Pollack et al., 2011). “All these aim to reduce the extent of criminality among
those who have already developed drug abuse or dependency by encouraging/coercing
offenders into treatment” (Pollack et al., 2011).

         Regrettably, legislation prevents many of the repeat
offenders from being eligible for some of the programs. For example, if someone is already on supervised release,
or parole, and get arrested during that time, they are automatically deemed
ineligible for a drug court program (Pollack et al., 2011). “Second, and more
interestingly, most of those who were arrested de novo and who had drug use
patterns making them potential clients for drug court, had long, relatively
serious criminal records that would have made them ineligible under current
conditions” (Pollack et al., 2011).      

Another
reason for continued drug influenced criminology is the lack of man-power to
supervise inmates, and the unfortunate rise of a corrupt judicial system
(Pollack et al., 2011). Drugs not only contribute to criminal activity that leads
to incarceration, but also make their way into the prisons (Pollack et al., 2011). Thus, the cycle
continues within the confines of the very place they are supposed to be
receiving punishment, and learning repentance.

         The idea of hundreds of inmates, under the influence of a
drug that stimulates aggression, confusion, hallucinations, and euphoria is
appalling. I cannot even begin to
fathom thriving in that kind of environment, and walking away prepared to
abstain for using.

Conclusion

Methamphetamine
is classified as a Schedule II stimulant, which makes it legally available
through a non-refillable prescription (“Meth
Awareness,” n.d.). The only two reasons it is
medically prescribed is as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder, and is sometimes used as a short-term weight-loss tool (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.).  It is also available as a street drug,
although not legally. This is what usually
contributes to the devastating addiction of methamphetamines.

As mentioned
in this essay, abusing methamphetamines not only affects the user drastically,
but it also affects their family, friends, and loved ones. These people have to
stand by to watch someone they care about wither away and suffer, without being
able to intervene at all. Ultimately, it is the addict’s choice to overcome
addiction, and it is a mental barrier that is not easy to get through. In
addition to affecting immediate family members and loved ones, methamphetamine
affects a larger array of people. The toxic chemicals that go into
manufacturing the drug harm the environment (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.).  “Every pound of
meth made can generate up to five pounds of toxic waste that may seep into the
soil and groundwater” (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.). The manufacturing process
also involves the emission of toxic fumes into the air, which can severely harm
people who inhale the (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.).  Many meth labs also explode at some point
because of the flammable gases involved (“Meth
Awareness,” n.d.).  Meth also impacts children, who might be
living with addicted parents (“Meth
Awareness,” n.d.).  These children are exposed to harmful
substances and paraphenelia, like syringes (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.).  Lastly, “millions
of our tax dollars are spent each year to clean up meth labs, to care for drug
endangered children, and to pay for law enforcement to deal with the meth
problem” (“Meth Awareness,” n.d.).  Because of this, it’s clear that meth use
stems farther than just the immediate user; it is a drug that impacts the
entire earth’s population and it is a drug that has devastating effects. Drug
usage, particularly with meth, is a thriving epidemic, and unless there is some
sort of intervention, there will be a social disaster in the near future.