Over the past several years, the opioid crisis has been dominating the news across the United States and around the world. During that time, opioids were the drug of choice for many people and the number of those affected by drug addiction and overdoses rose considerably. Unfortunately, the public’s attention has been diverted from other addictive substances over this period. Meth has become a drug of choice for opioid users now, and is making a surge again in the United States.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine (Meth) is a stimulant. It is a highly addictive substance that acts on a person’s central nervous system. Meth is a white, bitter-tasting powder that can easily be dissolved in liquids like water or alcohol. It also comes in crystalline form and can be snorted, smoked, or injected.
Its parent drug, amphetamine, is available by prescription. It is used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), narcolepsy (a specific sleep disorder resulting in sudden sleep attacks), and certain cases of obesity.
When consumed, meth causes a sense of euphoria and well-being. Users have more energy and are more talkative than usual. Their appetite decreases and they stay awake longer. Over time, extreme weight loss, paranoid delusions and deterioration of the skin, hair and teeth often develop.
Long-term Effects of Meth Use
Long-term meth users put themselves at risk for severe negative health consequences, including drug addiction. This chronic disease’s symptoms include compulsive drug use and changes to the way the addict’s brain functions. Their ability to think and make decisions is altered by their drug use.
Other long-term effects of taking meth include the following:
• Anxiety (significant levels)
• Delusions (Example: Sensations of insects crawling under the skin)
• Hallucinations (auditory and visual)
• Mood disturbances
• Violent behavior
The psychotic symptoms of meth use may last for months or years after a person has stopped using the drug. Stress has been linked to the onset of psychotic episodes in those who use meth or who have used it previously. Some long-term meth users have also reported experiencing cognitive and emotional problems as well.
State Supreme Court Ruling Makes Prosecutions Difficult
Sheriff Mickey Stines, who is from the Letcher County Sheriff’s Department, commented recently that the local police have not been arresting people for possession of pills at all. Instead, in August alone there were 22 felony drug cases processed in the county in connection with meth. He went on to say that there is a drug business that is “booming” in his town and his department is trying to “make a dent in it.”
The local drug market is like the economy; it moves up and down. These shifts make it more challenging for the police to apprehend everyone involved.
The Kentucky Supreme Court also plays a role: It has ruled that first offenders can be released with a signature without having to go before a judge. The only exception is for those charged with drug trafficking. While decriminalization of drug possession or use would normally seen by many as a positive step, not then referring people to seek help for substance use disorders is a missed opportunity to provide help.