Currently, drug abuse is a prevalent problem in the world. Most governments are launching large funds to enable their agencies to succeed in the fight against drugs. Narcotic substances are of different types and have diverse impacts on the individuals who are using them. Irrespective of the kind of drugs, consumers exhibit various side effects from taking the stimulants, and develop some form of addiction to the substances that they ingest frequently. Reducing the intake of illicit drugs is paramount to public authorities especially due to the influence that dopes have on the person and the society at large. One of the drugs that became the most prevalent in the US is methamphetamine. The latter is used as a stimulant and is illegal in America apart from its medicinal value. Methamphetamine has been known to have disastrous consequences for an individual and the public. It damages the lives of consumers, and by means of the increased awareness of its properties, the methamphetamine problem can be solved. This paper discusses the nature of methamphetamine, its symptoms, effects, and different laws regarding the sale and consumption of this substance.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. In most cases, it is used as a recreational drug rather than the medication to treat health disorders such as obesity and ADHD. Additionally, this stimulant is rarely prescribed by doctors due to concerns revolving around neurotoxicity as well as the potential that consumers are likely to take it for recreational purposes. Because of its effects, methamphetamine is usually prohibited in most countries. However, this does not prevent addicts from being on the drug. According to Dobkin and Nicosia, amphetamine along with methamphetamine are the most widely used stimulants after marijuana. The spread of methamphetamine or as it is commonly referred to as crystal meth has increased in the US.
Methamphetamine in America has both medical and recreational application. Methamphetamine hydrochloride, named Desoxyn, is usually approved of ingestion by the FDA for the treatment of obesity and ADHD. However, due to the risk with regard to the drug, the FDA limits prescription of the substance for medical purposes (US FDA). Besides, due to the high potential of misuse, the stimulator has its regulation under the Controlled Substances Act and is outlined in Schedule II in the US. Whenever dispensing Desoxyn in the US, a boxed warning is required to indicate the negative effects regarding addiction, and its value as a recreational drug. Methamphetamine applied for therapeutic aims is the issue that the government tries to fight by means of the DEA.
Various groups of people are given different contraindications during any medical methamphetamine use. For those, who have a history of substance abuse and thus have developed disorders, who suffer from the heart disease or individuals, who get anxious and agitated, contraindications are advised by the FDA. Additionally, to the aforementioned group belong those who experience glaucoma, severe hypertension, and arteriosclerosis. However, those who are hypersensitive to other stimulants and are currently taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors are prohibited from taking methamphetamine. Consequently, individuals with any forms of depression, high blood pressure, Tourette syndrome, kidney or liver issues, as well as with epileptic seizures, psychosis, or Raynaud’s phenomenon and the bipolar ones are required to check their symptoms whenever they start treatment by this drug. In regards to the use of Desoxyn for children, their height and weight should be monitored since they have a stunted growth potential.
Methamphetamine prescribed for recreational purposes is taken in several different ways including smoking, injections, snorting, or oral consumption to produce dopamine. The use of methamphetamine results in the feeling of pleasure, the users increases their energy levels, and are alert. Additionally, consumers may get violent, hallucinate, be moody, develop suicidal thoughts, and that can lead to psychotic behavior. Moreover, methamphetamine is known for is euphoric and aphrodisiac qualities. A documentary by the National Geographic on the abuse of this drug shows how these two properties have been employed to create a subculture. According to this series, a subculture with the name ‘party and play’ related to methamphetamine consumption is usually in place. The “San Francisco Meth Zombies” episode of the fourth season of Drugs, Inc. series adds that people meet up through dating sites and have sex especially due to the inhibitory effect that methamphetamine has on ejaculation. In periods after appointments by the subculture, the members of the group experience hypersomnia the following days (“San Francisco Meth Zombies”).
Furthermore, methamphetamine has several side effects. The main one, which is quite evident in long-term meth abusers, is the meth mouth. Addicts normally lose their teeth quickly after the use of the substance regardless of the means. However, those who inject the stimulant into their bodies have more severe conditions than individuals that follow other methods such as inhalation, smoking, or ingesting the drug. The American Dental Association credit this form of disorder to the combined psychological and physiological changes that are attributed to methamphetamine, including dry mouth referred to as xerostomia, prolonged periods of poor mouth hygiene, consumption of high-caloric beverages, as well as clenching and grinding of teeth, a condition known as bruxism. Nevertheless, some researchers feel that the meth mouth side effect has been exaggerated to prevent the appearance of new drug addicts. Therefore, additional substances are hold accountable for xerostomia, which does not result in the meth mouth condition. Thus, doctors feel that the latter is the consequence of other abusers’ choices apart from xerostomia alone.
Other physical side effects associated with meth use include the loss of appetite, hyperactive behavior, excessive sweating, dilated pupils, and flushed skin. The high intake of high-calorie beverages is responsible for the loss of appetite. Moreover, drug abusers experience increased body movements, and irregular heartbeats usually alternate the slowed and the accelerated ones. Blood pressure is either low or high with rapid breathing and high body temperature. Addicts also experience constipation and diarrhea. Furthermore, their skin is affected by having acne or dry skin, as well as developing pale appearance. Additionally, it causes dizziness, twitching, and users can encounter the instances of blurred vision.
Methamphetamine has several side effects on pregnant women or mothers of infants. When meth is present in the bloodstream of a pregnant female, it can reach the fetus through the placenta. For those who are breastfeeding the drug can be transferred to the child through breast milk. Those, who were born to the meth-abusing mothers, had several characteristics including lower birthweight and smaller head circumference during the gestation process. Such newborns experienced withdrawal symptoms namely vomiting, feelings of agitation, and fast breathing. However, these cases occur in a mild manner, and only 4% of the situations require medical attention.
Moreover, methamphetamine has been related to the high rates of sexually transmitted infection. Drug abusers tend to have more probability of unprotected sex with HIV-positive people and unknown partners. Hence, these findings show that meth users have a risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Furthermore, due to the sex engagement for extended periods of time, people become infected, in some instances they face abrasions on their genitals, and men develop priapism.
Judging from these effects of methamphetamine, it is clear that the intervention to restrain individuals from taking the drug should be made. Due to volatility in the conduct of meth users, preventative actions are hard to be performed. In most cases, it is important to provide professional intervention. With regard to these measures, several kinds of behaviors can be expected including violent deportment and irrational thoughts. Another reason for seeking professional intervention is the risk of facing legal troubles especially connected with the lifestyles of meth addicts. The seriousness of this issue can also be noted whenever law enforcement officers find a meth lab. During removal of the lab contents, experts are hired, who perform the process while wearing hazmat suits. Different abusers can enrolled to various projects supported by the government and other institutions the main aim of which is dealing with meth consumers. According to Malenka, et al., cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment plan devised by professionals who are engaged in drug intervention. No pharmacotherapy was successful in rehabilitation of meth dependency until May 2014. Furthermore, substances containing magnesium ions can be given to addicts since the latter are inhibitors of NMDA receptors, which are reactivated by the dopamine, which is constituent of meth.
Apart from the side effects, many legal issues exist for drug users. In the US, the consumption of meth is illegal depending on the jurisdiction, or unless prescribed on a federal level. In addition to federal legislation, that puts methamphetamine under the Schedule II substance by the DEA, all states have imposed different methamphetamine restrictions for users, distributors, and producers of the drug. Legislation of methamphetamine is classified into two parts: the one affecting the use of meth, and the one regarding the sale of the stimulant. The federal government has several laws regarding the consumption of meth. The first meth conviction can result in up to a year incarceration, plus a fine of $1000 (“New York & Federal Laws for Crystal Meth”). For the second conviction, the user may be punished by up to 15 days in jail, a prison term of up to 2 years, and a penalty of $2500. The third conviction results in a 90-day minimum imprisonment and a three-year maximum sentence in penal institution, as well as a $5000 fine. Sale or possession of the drug with intent of fewer than 5 grams or less than 50 grams of a meth mixture leads to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1.000.000 (“New York & Federal Laws for Crystal Meth”). Those who possess more than five grams, but less than 50 grams of the substance, receive the punishment of between 5-40 years in the penitentiary as well as a $2 million fine. Lastly, the dealers who own more than 50 grams of meth, or more than 50 grams of a mixture are liable to between 10 years and a life prison sentence and a $4 million fine. In the state of New York, holding 0.5 ounce of meth, or its mixture induces a one-year jail term. Additionally, being in possession of more than 0.5 of an ounce of this drug or the mixture leads to imprisonment of between one to five and a half years for the first-time offence; the second offenders can be incarcerated for up to eight years while others are jailed up to nine years (“New York & Federal Laws for Crystal Meth”). Finally, having two or more ounces results in between 3-10 years for the first offense, up to 14 years for the second crime, and up to 17 years for the repeated offences.
From the abovementioned statistics on the prevalence of meth use, the symptoms, and the intervention of drug abuse, it is clear that addicts suffer because of this drug. Consequently, people should be knowledgeable in order to prevent other cases of substance abuse. Creating awareness is the first stage towards solving the meth menace in the US. Additionally, tougher restrictions should be introduced by the government to deter new users. Moreover, different methamphetamine treatment programs should be launched to attend to those who voluntarily revealed themselves and need help to stop addiction of this drug.
In conclusion, the US is experiencing a menace when it comes to the abuse of methamphetamine. To preclude further cases, and to enhance the treatment of meth addicts, the government and other stakeholders should develop plans to launch new meth intervention programs across the country. The awareness of the side effects and the risks involved in taking the drug should help to deter new consumers of stimulants as well as lead current abusers to quitting the substance ingestion. Since departing oneself from such an addiction is not easy, professional intervention should be demanded to ensure that the treatment process presupposes the systematic approach. Hence, this will require much effort to guarantee that those who were dependent on narcotic substances once will not revert to taking the drug.