Methamphetamine abuse is approaching epidemic proportions in the United States. Meth shows up in unexpected places, laying waste to homes, families, neighborhoods and eating away at the fabric of society. This highly addictive, incredibly toxic drug is easy to make from readily available ingredients found at home, making it even harder for authorities to control.
Meth Is Often the Choice of the Working Poor
Compared to Cocaine, prescription painkillers or heroin, methamphetamine is cheap. A single dose costs as little as $25, which has made it known as “poor man’s cocaine.” Other statistics bear this out. In the South and Midwest, where unemployment is high and household income is low, meth abuse has exploded. Like heroin, which is becoming more and more popular among young people, meth abuse is high along the back roads, cornfields and deep woods of America’s impoverished rural areas.
Immediate Toxic Effects
Meth offers an instant, intensely addictive high that makes the body crave sugar, among other things. Sugar and acid-laden foods wreck teeth and gums. Meth also makes people grind their teeth. Combined, these problems cause a condition known as “meth mouth.” Even with good dental care and hygiene, quick loss of teeth can result. It’s dangerous for a dentist to use anesthetic on an active user, since even a mild painkiller can interact with meth and cause cardiac problems.
The intense high of meth abuse is followed by an equally intense crash. Depression and fatigue spur the next dose, and the next. Excitement and hyperactivity are followed by depression and psychosis. Lack of good judgment increases the chance of a deadly overdose or explosions and fires in homemade meth labs. The speed at which this cycle revolves is astonishingly fast.
STDs and HIV
Meth amps up the user’s sex drive, leading to unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDs, which are already a problem among the poor and working class. A survey of meth users in California revealed that 54 percent admitted having unprotected sex. Users are also more likely to share and reuse needles, leading to increased risk of hepatitis, blood poisoning and HIV. These diseases are very difficult to treat, even with insurance and good health care which the poor often don’t have. On top of that, meth causes the destruction of the immune system, making users vulnerable to any number of diseases they could normally fight off.
Irreversible Long Term Effects
Continued meth abuse causes irreversible damage to every system of the body. The heartbeat becomes rapid and irregular, causing strokes and heart attacks. Decreased appetite leads to devastating weight loss. Severe tooth damage, respiratory diseases, organ failure, brain damage, seizures and death from overdose are the end result of meth abuse.
Meth abuse is woven into the vicious circle of poverty and addiction. If you or someone you love is caught in it, the time to act is right now. Treatment is available for people of all income levels, no matter what part of the country they live in. Start by calling this helpline: 800-890-3586. It’s toll-free.