Biological Effects of Methamphetamines
Biological Effects of Methamphetamines
Methamphetamines affect the human body in a physical and neurological and psychological way. The use of meth can lead to devastating effects to the nervous system for example leaving the user with nervous ticks and body jerks similar to a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease. On a physical level, the user may show skin sores and tooth decay. Last but the not least, the user may develop psychosis including hallucinations and paranoia. Not limited to the self destruction a user will suffer, the family and/or loved ones will also suffer the effects of methamphetamines.
Family will suffer, but mostly the children are the ones who will be left alone to deal with this drug that has swept the nation. I will talk about the devastating effects to the family. Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that affects the abuser physically, psychologically, and neurologically. The history of methamphetamines dates back to 1887 when it was first developed by the Germans. The abuse of amphetamines can be logged back to when the Germans and Japanese would give their factory workers and their soldiers the drug to keep them alert during WWII.
The method they used to produce the drug became known as the Nazi or Birth method”. (Meth Awareness and Prevention Project of South Dakota [MAPP-SD], 2000, para. 1) For many years, it was considered a drug in search of a disease because it was not developed for any one particular cure. It wasn’t until 1920 when it was being researched more seriously and then started being used as medication from antidepressants to anti-congestants. Later in the 1930’s it was being sold as Benzedrine, as a nasal spray for congestion. By 1937 amphetamine began to be sold as medication in a tablet form.
It is believed that during the “Great Depression”, because of all the hardship people were going thru, and the availability and easily prescribed drug helped facilitate and/or encouraged the abuse of amphetamines. By 1919, Japan started producing methamphetamine which was cheaper and more potent than amphetamine. It was produced in a crystalline powder form and was able it to be dissolved in water, making it easier for it to be injected. This form of amphetamine is still legally produced in the US and is being sold under the name of Desoxyn. Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, 2010, para. 1-3) The abuse of methamphetamines in the United States seems to have started during the “Great Depression” and increased during WWI, WWII, and Viet Nam. Many times, amphetamines were prescribed by the government and the military to keep fighting soldiers going. After returning from their tour of duty, many soldiers returned home addicted to the drug. Also during the 50’s and 60’s, amphetamines were being used as a weight loss medication. But eventually began to be abused by the users.
Today, methamphetamines are abused throughout the US. It has spread like wildfire, starting on the West Coast. Today, meth does not discriminate and will affect every race, culture, age, and socio economic level. Meth users range from the most prestigious political figures, all star athletes, famous celebrities, re-known musicians, honest business men/women, respectable housewives/husbands, honor students, to your street drug dealers and junkies. Many truck drivers and bikers are notorious for abusing meth.
They used an old slang term and called them co-pilots because it would keep them up on long road trips. Methamphetamine is taken by snorting it, ingesting it orally, smoking it, or injecting it intravenously. Meth is most commonly found in a crystal form. It’s most common street names are: crystal, speed, ice, and crank. Once taken, meth will give the user a rush or euphoria with the following symptoms; “…increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and hyperthermia”. National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA], n. d. , para. 6). The effects of methamphetamine has on the central nervous system or CNS, will include irritability, insomnia, confusion, paranoia, and aggressiveness. Since it is known that it is difficult for nerve cells to be regenerated after having been damaged, it is a clear indication that use of this drug—in small or large quantities—cause irreversible damages in the CNS.
In clinical researches, it is found that individuals who have a long history of methamphetamine abuse have reduced levels in dopamine transporters, which are associated with slowed motor skills and weakened memories in the individuals. Abusers who remained abstinent for at least nine months were found to have recovered from damage to their dopamine transporters, but their motor skills and memories were not found to have significantly recovered. Over time abusers of meth appear to cause reduced levels of dopamine, which can result in symptoms like those of Parkinson’s disease.
They will have uncontrollable jerking and twitching. Asides the harmful damage to the CNS and brain, the abuser may also develop psychotic-like behavior or also known as type-two schizophrenia, which include bizarre behavior and hallucinations, both audible and visual. Anxiety, emotional swings, and paranoia are the most common psychological effects due to chronic use of meth. Symptoms increase with long-term use, and can involve paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Violence and self-destructive behavior are common. Pellowski, 2000) One of the most striking effects of meth is the change in the physical appearance of meth users. The physical effects of meth include skin sores, tooth decay, aging of the skin, and lack of hygiene. Because the use of meth causes the blood vessels to constrict, it cuts off the steady flow of blood to all parts of the body. Heavy usage can weaken and destroy these vessels, causing tissues to become prone to damage and inhibiting the body’s ability to repair itself. Acne appears, sores take longer to heal, and the skin loses its luster and elasticity.
Some users are covered in small sores, the result of obsessive skin-picking brought on by the hallucination of having bugs crawling beneath the skin, a disorder known as formication. These sores develop as the body is only able to dispose of 10% of the chemicals in meth. The rest of the chemicals are then forced out of your body by its natural defenses and is emitted through the skin. This chemicals form and leave behind small red bumps on the skin and the user will then start picking and scratching these bumps thinking they are small parasites under their skin.
This picking will cause open sores, infections, and scarring of the skin. (Sheff, 2008) A common sign of meth abuse is extreme tooth decay, a condition that has become known as “meth mouth. “. Meth users with “meth mouth” have blackened, stained, or rotting teeth, which often can’t be saved, even among young or short-term users. The exact causes of “meth mouth” are not fully understood, but it is believed that the chemicals used to produce meth may attribute to the tooth decay. Another possibility is the lack of hygiene.
Many meth users will not worry about brushing their teeth or flossing when all their worries are on their next fix. In Arizona alone, meth is the second most abused drug of choice following alcohol. It is rapidly becoming the most devastating drug that is affecting everyone, not only the abusers. Family members suffer financially and emotionally as they see their loved ones being ravaged by the drug. They have to deal with the lies and deceit, and many times the abuse by the users. They are robbed of their securities and their possessions. Many children suffer neglect and abuse due to the parents using meth.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 January 2017
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