Crystal meth addiction is out of control in America. The State of California is leading the way with the city of Riverside being the Crystal meth capital of the world. The epidemic is so bad, the U.S. Department of Justice recently claimed Meth has surpassed Cocaine as the new "drug of choice" by our youth.
The Associated Press quoted the White House National Drug Policy Director as saying, "Methamphetamine, also known as speed, is the worst drug menace facing the United States and is a growing threat in Asia."
The target for this growing threat are the youth in our society ravaged by broken homes, neglect and little parental influence. Physically and emotionally vulnerable to their environment, they adopt the look and values of the people they love and esteem. When these people are drugged out musicians, Hollywood actors, or Vogue models rather than members of their family who can return that love, it's easy to see the potential for a downward spiral. Social influences like family and close friends, once the center of our society, do not stand against the pervasive power of the media, which collectively impacts young lives by glamorizing destructive attitudes and actions.
In recent times, those in the spotlight, including the mainstream news personalities, have chosen to mock family values, and reject forms of authority which at one time were greatly respected role models, which once included father figures, school teachers and police officers, have been replaced by cynical, sarcastic media personas who promote a "feel good" philosophy.
Many young people who may be too immature to recognize the long term repercussions of this approach to life, are easily influenced and swayed into this lifestyle until it destroys them. Research has proven that youth who grow into maturity without using illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco are likely to remain drug free the rest of their lives. Our main objective at EscapeMeth.com is to educate youth, parents, school and law enforcement officials about the ever increasing use of Methamphetamine (speed), and the life threatening damage to all who come in contact with it.
Our main objective is clearly demonstrated in our two-part film project: "Tweaked" and "Tweaked: A Generation in Overdrive", which present a warning of the real dangers associated with Meth abuse growing in America. The first film, "Tweaked", presents the problem with little hope or solution. Running 20 minutes, the length and graphic content send a devastating wakeup call to any addict or potential user that SPEED KILLS. Designed for use in the classroom or counseling session, it will, without a doubt, stir the viewer toward a more realistic viewpoint of the drug and it's potential danger.
"Tweaked: A Generation in Overdrive" is a 50 minute film with the same message as "Tweaked" plus the intimate details of a family who struggled through crystal meth addiction to recovery. This longer, more detailed version, is informative and should be viewed by youth, parents and community leaders in order to fully understand the problem and see the potential for escape.
These two films contain hard to watch images of graphic violence and abuse caused by those addicted to Crystal Meth. (Click Here) for more details on how you can obtain your own copies.
As society expands, so do the needs of those living within society. Everything is new. Advances in technology are made daily. Fashion is as mutable as the weather. New and old conspiracies hit the newspaper headlines without ceasing. One cannot help feeling at a loss living under such demands to keep up. Searching for ever elusive identity and security in the midst of an upbeat nation seems to deepen the void within. Almost everyone longs for comfort and escape. These needs are often pacified through outlets like exercise, work, eating and gambling, to name a few. Unfortunately, many people fall face-first into a drug lifestyle. It always seems like the right answer...until people find themselves fixed, unable to escape from the bondage they have created. Inevitably, they are back where they started, drowning in self-condemnation and despair.
The increasingly popular trend in drug use is methamphetamine, also known as speed, crank, ice, glass, crystal meth, sketch, go, junk, wake up, zoom, crystal, cridium, stuff, tweak, dope, and lines. It can be snorted, smoked, injected and eaten, making it a versatile drug to administer. Crystal Meth is typically sold in 1/4 gram ($20-25), one gram ($50-75), and 1/8 ounce ($140-180). It is cheaper and more accessible than cocaine and appears not to have the same stigma associated with it. Police say $100 can buy a cocaine user a twenty-minute high; the same amount can keep a meth user buzzed for a day or two.
Crystal meth now rivals cocaine as the drug of choice in many parts of the United States. Unlike cocaine, meth does not need to be smuggled into the United States. It costs less with similar effects and it can be made in people's homes. The Federal Government recently reported, "While cocaine use continues to slow, meth has taken its place as the most widely abused drug in the United States." At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice has named meth the "drug of choice" among youth.
Methamphetamine, or Phenyl Isopropyl Methyline, is a classified stimulant. Stimulants, by definition, are chemical compounds that accelerate activity within the central nervous system. Stimulants appear naturally in animals and in humans in the form of adrenaline and epinephrine. Much like natural stimulants, man made ones stimulate the body's ability to perform physical activity under situations of stress.
At low doses the drug can block hunger, focus attention, steady the hear and boost endurance. At high doses the drug briefly makes the body feel good, but kills the brain in the process. Meth sends a message to the brain cells to fire more dopamine, a feel-good chemical that is also critical to normal brain functioning. Hours after it is ingested, cell receptors begin to turn off to slow the flow of dopamine, and this is where meth differs from other stimulants, such as cocaine. While other stimulants allow brain cells to capture and repackage dopamine, meth does not. The brain cells respond by releasing an enzyme to knock out the extra dopamine. With repeated use, the enzymes eventually kill the dopamine cell, which leads to a chemical change in the way the brain works.
The physical effects of meth use include diarrhea, palpitations, dizziness, jaw clenching and facial ticks. Chronic use leads to sever weight loss and exhaustion, tremors, ataxia, disturbances of the cardiac rhythm, pain in the muscles and joints, and reduced resistance to infections. Meth decreases the appetite, blood flow, and saliva. It increases the heart rate to the extent that sudden heart failure can occur under strain. The rise of blood pressure and sugar levels and the vasoconstriction of peripheral blood vessels occurs. Other consequences include bronchial dilation, dilation of the blood vessels to the skeletal muscles, dilation of pupils and the emptying of the bladder and intestine. The most important central effects are an increase in alertness, sensitivity to stimuli, and self-awareness. Apart from the nervous system, meth damages multiple other organ systems including the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver.
Meth abusers who overdose do not have any warning signs. Without these signs, death can be unexpected and very sudden. The heart rate will rapidly increase and the abuser will collapse and suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke. Medical professionals treating drug abusers maintain that heroin addicts can frequently live longer lives, whereas meth abuses often do not.
Recent data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network records 487,600 drug-related emergency department episodes and climbing. The increment is due to an expansion of operating meth labs throughout the country. Meth-related hospital admissions increased more than 366% during the last ten years in California alone.
Users who have witnessed a change in habitual use report the shift to aggressive or non- affectionate behavior. Abusers become nervous and agitated, a condition described as "tweaking" that makes them prone to violence. During the National Methamphetamine Conference in May, the President stated, "Substance abuse continues to plague our nation, Methamphetamine is now threatening to overtake crack cocaine as the most virulent illegal substance linked to violent behavior. It is leaving a trail of crime and death in its wake. Chemically and physiologically volatile, methamphetamine ravages the lives of its users..."
SPIN Magazine, describes methamphetamine as a "synthetic drug that produces a synthetic rage and the kind of grisly crimes that Hard Copy's dreams are made of: limb-snapping, organ-grinding freak-outs, a steady diet of hostage-taking, and mini-mart stickups super-sized into murder. These days, there are West Coast countries where eighty percent of the domestic violence is reported as tweaker-fueled."
Rolling Stone, reiterates by stating, "Where meth thrives, so does David Lynchian violence. After zooming, levels of dopamine and serotonin, two of the brain's regulators, plummet; paranoia takes over, and shadow people appear. A lurid meth-related murder happens somewhere around the country every few months."
A speed freak in New Mexico cut off his 14 year-old son's head and tossed it out the window of his van.
Chronic use can lead to acute psychosis with auditory hallucinations and extreme paranoia. Unlike cocaine psychosis, it does not pass away rapidly, but can last for weeks. Methamphetamine psychosis is inevitable with high doses. Behavior fixation, compulsiveness, and the sensation of "bugs" crawling are merely a few symptoms. Doctors are not sure why one- third of heavy users will develop bizarre, paranoid behavior and suffer hallucinations and voices in the mind that are "as real as real gets." It can lead to paranoid psychosis. The resultant psychotic reaction is indistinguishable from schizophrenia except on some subtle dimensions.
Meth users experience severe disturbances of mood and thought that may be sustained well beyond the binge. The disturbance often persists for days, sometimes weeks. Similarly, the meth crash is more prolonged, and the drug-related depression that users may undergo upon awakening can be more severe than anything familiar to cocaine users. Massive, frequent doses create a two to five day run resulting in a crash that is approximately 24 hours and can last for days.
According to several studies, criterion for addiction includes: unsuccessful attempts to quit, persistent desire and craving, continued use despite knowledge of harm to oneself and others, and taking the drug to avoid or relieve withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms after chronic use include the need to catch up on lost sleep. Genuine physical dependence does not occur, but repeated continuous use results in extreme exhaustion and depression, which can be self-awareness and confidence during use result in a loss of self-criticism, which in some cases can lead to psychological dependence. An abuser can build up a high tolerance with increased dependence, leading to an increase in dosage.
Methamphetamine is a drug with high burnout potential. Treatment providers in all states report users enter treatment more rapidly with addiction to meth than with either heroin or cocaine. Individuals who seek treatment have a rough time kicking the drug, and can still suffer from psychosis for up to a half-year. Cravings, irritability, nightmares and depression are common for months after someone quits. The Los Angeles Times Associated Press reported, "Soon-to-be-published medical studies state that brain scans of lab animals show that the effects of meth last two years after abuse of the drug stops." The cravings eventually wane, but sometimes the irreparable damage will not show for years.
In many communities, the demand for meth rehab far exceeds treatment capacity. In urban centers, such as Lost Angeles County, large numbers of hard-core addicts never make it into a program because the wait can take up to six months. In California, as many as 8,000 addicts are on waiting lists for a chance at one of 54,000 publicly funded treatment slots--nearly half of which are in Los Angeles County. Studies show that an untreated addict can cost taxpayers as much as $90,000 a year in welfare., medical care, law enforcement and losses resulting in crime, eclipsing the $21,000 annual cost for long-term residential treatment. Addicts who do not receive necessary rehabilitation usually continue using or promote themselves to selling or manufacturing drugs.
Methamphetamine is both domestically produced and imported into the United States in an already processed form. For the local producers the processing required to make meth from the precursor substances is not only easier than it once was, but also more accessible. There is no specific recipe for making it. Methamphetamine is not derived from a plant, only chemicals. No smuggling or foreign connection is required. Meth is completely homemade; most of the chemicals required to manufacture meth are readily obtainable from hardware or drugstores. Meth normally contains ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine, which is found in over-the-counter cold medications. Depending on the recipe, other ingredients used in the cooking are that of the skull-and-cross bone labels: lye, rat poison, battery acid, and various chemicals such as acetone and gasoline.
Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry can cook meth in a garage in two to four hours. The drug can be made with a skillet and stove, in a bathtub, or even in a car trunk with a plastic drinking cup. Once the chemicals are obtained, meth can be produced anywhere the manufacturer, or "cook", cares to work.
Illicit drugs are manufactured under crude and hazardous conditions, using inadequate or makeshift equipment by persons with little or no chemistry background. The chemicals utilized by clandestine lab "cooks" can fit into a suitcase and are therefore easily transported from location to location. Meth is produced in what are referred to as clandestine laboratories. These "Clan Labs" generally contain an assorted variety of hazardous and volatile chemicals. These chemicals create a major health and environmental problem as they are discarded illegally by the cooks who manufacture methamphetamine. The chemicals are dumped into old wells, waterways, ponds, lakes, public sewer systems, and onto the ground.
Meth labs are frequently located in public locations such as residences, hotels, motels, and storage facilities. The proximity of the labs to residential areas makes the general population extremely vulnerable to the hazardous conditions associated with their operation. Clandestine labs present numerous hazards to people and the environment. There is extreme potential for fires, and exposure to hazardous chemicals and fumes. The manufacture of meth is particularly dangerous because the manufacturing process poses the risk of explosion, and the potential of highly toxic chemicals injuring or killing innocent parties. There is also a great risk of cancer due to the carcinogenic effect of the chemicals used or produced in the manufacturing of meth.
Usually by the time police find a lab, there is nothing left but a cancerous bog. At some site, the chemicals in the soil cause the earth to spontaneously ignite. California's "cooks" empty their kettles in the dirt so that the cost of mopping up doubles yearly. It reached close to $7 million last year, second in the state only to oil spills.
Small meth labs, using glass beakers and countertop burners, can be set up and taken down in hours and are notoriously hard to detect. Steve Davis, Bonneville County Sheriff's narcotics investigator says "As bad as cocaine was, meth is worse. Cocaine, you can take out the suppliers and dry up the town...Meth is a lot harder to control."
Long a problem in the west and southwest, especially in California, where last year over 1,000 meth labs were seized, the drug has spread to the heartland partly because it is so easy to make and partly because of the money that can be made. "Police say a $1,000 investment can reap a $20,000 profit in less than four hours of work," reports The Los Angeles Times. The Drug Enforcement Administration shuts down an equal amount each year in the United States.
Although it is a new trend, meth is not an original drug for the new millennium. According to National Trends in Drug Abuse, early in the 1900's, its parent drug, amphetamine, also known as Benzedrine, was used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers and in treatment of depression. narcolepsy, schizophrenia, alcoholism and obesity. In the 1940's, Adolph Hitler took Benzedrine and mixed it with various chemicals to create Methamphetamine. This gave his army the ability to fight for days without food or sleep. Around the same time, Japanese Kamikaze pilots took Methamphetamine to numb fears prior to diving their planes into American ships. In the 60's, as drug use became culturally acceptable, Methamphetamine became widely available through prescriptions and a booming black market. Methamphetamine use waned during the 70's as many overdosed and died. But, in the 80's, Methamphetamine re-appeared and seemed to be spreading like wildfire through the country, being used very casually by many to heighten energy and lose weight quickly. Because meth of today is more pure and potent than it ever was in the past, the drug is even more dangerous and fatal.
Once stereotyped as a "biker drug," meth has a broad new consumer base. It is commonly used by the gay community, blue collar workers, young professionals, college students, mostly white males, the Hispanic population, high school students as y9oung as ninth grade, people in their early thirties, rural bikers, street youth, a growing number of Native Americans, service workers, farm and oil workers, employed and unemployed people in their twenties, Asians, both men and women, and cocaine users who can no longer afford cocaine. All types of people use meth. There are no boundaries. It includes all classes and all professions. Anybody and everybody...Meth is not a respecter of persons.
Methamphetamine also produces high-strung children similar in many ways to crack babies. There are two possible mechanisms by which meth may complicate pregnancy. The first if vascular, which leads to reduced blood flow to the fetus. The second is a direct toxic effect on the developing fetal brain. The impact of reduced blood flow in a developing fetus can be manifested by significant limb reduction deformities. The tendency to sleep nearly all the time exists during the first month of life. Babies sleep so deeply that the jaws must be pried open to get the baby to suck. Meth babies also exhibit a pronounced aversion to being touched on the head or feet. Jannie M. Sims, child psychologist states, "You think of a cocaine baby as the worst that it could be." She paused then added simply, "They're not."
Methamphetamine is predicted to alter child development more than cocaine. Unlike coke, meth is toxic to the brain cells because it sharply reduces levels of the neuro-transmitters dopamine and serotonin, which regulate motor skills and moods such as behavior control, anger, and attention deficit. United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that by age seven, children begin to have higher levels of aggressive behavior, more problems with adjusting to environments, and higher rates of school failure.
"Overall, National drug abuse continues to decline but, as other reports have found in recent years, it is on the rise among those under twenty years of age. Methamphetamine users in California tend to be either high school and college students or twenty-something's of any economic status," declares The National Drug Control Strategy. Recently, in Irvine, California, a sixteen-year-old was arrested for cooking up meth using a step-by-step recipe taken off the Internet. "One treatment program in Northern California reported fifty percent of the adolescent clients enter with meth as their primary drug of abuse and eighty percent report that they use if regularly," says Pulse Check, National Trends in Drug Abuse.
The survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that substance abuse trends among high school and college students are rooted in behavior beginning in middle school. Researchers also found that preteens are smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at earlier ages and that adolescents who abuse these "gateway drugs" run a higher risk of abusing harder drugs in the future. The statistical correlation between tobacco and drug abuse is high. Youths aged twelve to seventeen who smoke are eight times more likely to use illicit drugs than a non-smoking youth.
A report by The Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University revealed that Ritalin (methylphenidate), often used to treat hyperactivity in children, is often abused an can be another "gateway drug" if not taken properly or as needed. "Producing cocaine-like stimulant effects, snorted or injected Ritalin is just the latest trend in a resurgence in abuse of stimulant drugs that recalls the 'Speed Freak' era of the late 1960's." Often prescribed by "interview" versus physical testing, Ritalin is regularly over-prescribed, and contributes to many youth being exposed and addicted to this "speed" like substance at an early age. When not taken with caution and care, this popular drug prepares many for future methamphetamine use.
According to the Director of White House Drug Control Policy, Substance abuse among young people has grown during the past five years. Pro-drug messages are communicated to children through the most sophisticated, multimedia techniques while anti-drug forces typically fight back with bumper stickers: that is, with one-dimensional approaches. Material legitimizing drugs can be found in music, film, television, the Internet, and mass market outlets."
The media also makes a profound impact on women, influencing them to use drugs. Because meth imitates the effects of adrenaline, it produces the side effect of appetite suppression. This is very attractive to young women who want to be as thin as the models and actresses they see on television, in the movies, and on magazine covers.
Research from The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicates that forty-nine percent methamphetamine users are now listed as women, the majority are between ages twenty and thirty-nine. About seventy percent of women who report using drugs also reported having been sexually abused before the age of sixteen. More than eighty percent had at least one parent addicted to alcohol or one or more illicit drug.
"Trends in drugs, like those in music or politics, often hatch in California and then spread to the rest of the country. Meth is no different. The west's little problem is moving eastward. In December, the Feds arrested 100 suspects in an operation that spanned the nation. They seized 133 pounds of meth and $2 million, and followed the product clear down the I-40 to the virginal nostrils of North Carolina," says SPIN Magazine., "Its tentacles reach from backwoods barns in southeast Missouri's boot-heel to desolate Indian reservations in North Dakota and South Dakota to Nebraska and Iowa." According to a speed user quoted in the same article, "I've met lots of people from Nevada. I've met a lot of Mormon white kids from Utah. They love their crank. I know people who are taking it everywhere...Tennessee, New York, Kentucky, Georgia. It hasn't ever begun to peak yet."
"The Truth About Methamphetamine" was originally written by a bright, well educated 19-year-old female during the time she was trying to kick the meth habit. Shortly after finishing this article, she ran off to live with her addicted boyfriend on the streets and once again began using methamphetamine. She was eventually arrested on felony counts for possession and dealing in methamphetamine, was jailed and her bail was set at $20,000.
For more information about Methamphetamine, check out our Meth Links page.
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