Meth abuse causes chronic

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 19, 2000

long-term health problems


Staff Writer

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Although its growing in popularity, methamphetamine is not something new on the drug scene.

Methamphetamine, commonly called meth, is a highly addictive stimulant that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. The crystal-like powered substance can be taken orally, injected, snorted or smoked. It is also referred to by the street names: speed, crank, crystal, ice, fire, crypts, white cross, glass, chalk and croak.

The drug is made of Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine mixed with chemicals, such as lye and red phosphorus, used in the manufacturing of fireworks.

"It’s hard for me to look at the ingredients and understand why anybody with reasonable intelligence would inject this," Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said.

According to information from the Drug Enforcement Agency, methamphetamine use increases the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and breathing rate. It also dilates the pupils, produces temporary hyperactivity and causes euphoria, sense of increased energy, tremors and violent behavior.

Chronic abuse produces psychosis similar to schizophrenia and is characterized by paranoia, picking at the skin, self absorption and auditory and visual hallucinations.

Meth use also causes severe depression and suicidal tendencies.

Possible long-term effects are: fatal kidney and lung disorders, possible brain damage, permanent psychological problems, lowered resistance to illnesses, liver damage and stroke.

Because amphetamines have the potential to produce tolerance, which means increased amounts of the drug are needed to achieve the desired effects, withdrawal symptoms can occur if use is abruptly stopped.

Users who stop, may experience fatigue, long periods of disturbed sleep, irritability, intense hunger, psychotic reaction, anxiety reactions and mental confusion.

Medical treatments include use of antidepressant agents, such as imipramine, desipramine, amitriptyline, dosepin, trazodone or fluoxetine (Prozac). These drugs affect serotonin, the neurotransmitter in the brain that affects depression and drug craves. Sedatives and antipsychotic medications are also used during treatment.