By Jo Ann Hummers on July 13, 2020
Methamphetamine is present locally, as indicated not only by several recent arrests but also by personal discussions.
People often use drugs for reasons other than relief of a medical situation. They may want to “feel different”, to forget worries, to experience a new and different “high”. The reason might also be to “fit in” with a group of people with whom they believe they are friends. Meth can help to provide all of these results.
The problem is that meth is a very powerful stimulant which can affect the individual in many more serious ways than anticipated.
Some of the short term health effects include increased wakefulness and physical activity and decreased appetite. They also include increased breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and irregular heartbeat. The long term effects may include: “anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood problems, violent behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”).“
Use during pregnancy can produce “premature delivery separation of the placenta from the uterus, low birth weight, lethargy, heart and brain problems”. There is also the “risk of HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases from shared needles”.
If used with alcohol, meth can cover up the depressant effect of the alcohol, which may increase the risk of alcohol overdose and may also increase blood pressure.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that “The misuse of methamphetamine—a potent and highly addictive stimulant—remains an extremely serious problem in the United States. In some areas of the country, it poses an even greater threat than opioids, and it is the drug that most contributes to violent crime. According to data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 14.7 million people (5.4 percent of the population) have tried methamphetamine at least once. NSDUH also reports that almost 1.6 million people used methamphetamine in the year leading up to the survey, and it remains one of the most commonly misused stimulant drugs in the world.” The report continues:
“The consequences of methamphetamine misuse are terrible for the individual—psychologically, medically, and socially. Using the drug can cause memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, damage to the cardiovascular system, malnutrition, and severe dental problems. Methamphetamine misuse has also been shown to contribute to increased transmission of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.
Beyond its devastating effects on individual health, methamphetamine misuse threatens whole communities, causing new waves of crime, unemployment, child neglect or abuse, and other social ills.”
Jo Ann Hummers, EdD, is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist, with a private practice at the Nags Head Professional Center. She provides DWI assessments and treatment, smoking cessation sessions, and treatment for gambling and other addictions.