The use of Methamphetamines and how it destroys lives Essay

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The use of Methamphetamines and how it destroys lives

One of the most misused drugs in the US, UK, Australia and Western European Countries are the additive stimulants Amphetamines and Methamphetamines (which belongs to the same group). In the US, Amphetamine use surprisingly exceeded cocaine use, during the later portion of the last century. This created a lot of concern to the authorities and the Federal Government. Although, cocaine and amphetamines may act in different ways, the manner in which they are abused, or the fashion in which it causes dependence and toxicity, are identical to cocaine. Amphetamines dependence is a group of mental, behavioral and cognitive symptoms that suggest that the individual depends on amphetamines or like-drugs.

Amphetamine abuse is a maladaptive pattern of using the same or like drugs during a 12 month period, resulting in significant impairment to the normal functioning (J.H. Jaffee. 2005).  Amphetamine dependence began to appear in the late 1930’s. The amphetamine abuse really intensified in Japan following the World War II. In the 1960’s, concern over amphetamine abuse by the FDA was expressed. The drug was produced from ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine (utilized to make medications for common cold and other allergic disorders), illegally.

In the 1980’s, smoking the drug (in the form of ice) was highly popular in the US and was frequently abused (J.H. Jaffee. 2005). It was frequently abused in the Western parts of the US, and usually by Whites compared to other communities. However, current data suggests the abuse is increasing in other groups, such as Hispanics, adolescents and those living in underdeveloped areas (NIDA. 2007). About 12 million above the age of 12, have abused the drug at least once in their lifetime (Drug-Free America. 2006). About 600, 000 were presently using the drug (Drug-Free America. 2006).

In the 1990’s amphetamines began to compete with cocaine for the most abused drugs. It is especially being abused by school students, and the life-time usage in students between 8th to 12th grades was 2.7 % to 4.4 %. The drug use is significant in White girls, below the age of 25 (NIDA. 2006). Amphetamine medically is used to treat several disorders such as ADHD, narcolepsy, appetite disorders, atypical depression, etc (J.H. Jaffee. 2005). Methamphetamines are also abused by men who desire to have sex with women. Compared to other amphetamines, methamphetamines are stronger, last longer and cause a lot of damage to the brain (NIDA. 2007).

Methamphetamine abuse is slowly rising in Texas teenagers, as the drug is becoming more and more popular in schools. It is known by several street names such as ice, Tina, glass, meth, etc, and is consumed by swallowing, smoking, snorting, injecting, etc. They usually consume it for recreational purposes, to stay awake all night for a party or to study, inducing stimulation and to create vanity. Girls are consuming the drug to help them reduce appetite and hence reduce weight. About 6.2 % of all teenagers studying in schools in Texas admitted to abusing the drug at least once in their life (Anderson Orr. 2006).

Amphetamines stimulate the release the neurotransmitter monoamine form the axon terminals where it is released into the synapses (gaps present between the nerves). It may also stimulate release of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, nor-epinephrine, serotonin, etc, causing an elevation in the mood and also brings about a rise in the CVS activity. The drug effect usually lasts for about 8 hours. Amphetamines causes an intracellular (specifically an extra-vesicular) rise in the dopamine levels. Dopamine is oxidized to produce several breakdown products substances. Some of these substances may be toxic.

The neurotransmitter vesicles also get positioned at the cell membrane and the neurotransmitters are released into the synapses. Methylphenidate (a drug similar to amphetamine, frequently utilized to treat ADHD) may work in a slightly different manner. It tends to block the dopamine transporters that absorb the dopamine from the synapses after it is secreted. The drug usually acts slowly as the dopamine transporters take time to arrange themselves (J.H. Jaffee. 2005).

When the individual continuously consumes amphetamines, certain drug changes may develop in the central nervous system in order to adopt itself to the drug abuse situation. The dopamine and the dopamine receptors elevation tend to stimulate cAMP present within the nerve cells and certain nucleus present in the brain. Once this occurs, several reactions tend to work that causes the genes to express the proteins in the different way (as it is persistent). The CREBL (camp response element binding protein) may be stimulated resulting in a rise in the adenylyl cyclase.

It also stimulates transcription of certain substances (dynorphin which is a group of peptides produced by the nerve cells) in the RNA (resulting in the rise of dopamine levels). The dopaminergic activity may get out of control. When the individual stops the drug, the dopamine may not be released in high amounts. The dopaminergic activity lowers, but the dynorphin activity continues. The individual develops several mental symptoms such as anhedonia (difficulty in experiencing pleasure from normal pleasurable events) and dysphoria (J.H. Jaffee. 2005).

The neurons present in the nucleus accumbens demonstrate a drop in the G-i proteins and higher levels of protein kinase. These proteins may increase the cAMP pathways. In this way the individual develops some amount of tolerance. Sensitization to amphetamines brought about by glutamate and its receptors (J.H. Jaffee. 2005).

Individuals with amphetamine abuse develop several physical and psychological symptoms. These include anorexia, dehydration, tiredness, jaw clenching habits, headaches, body pain, difficulty in breathing, tremors, sleep problems, anxiety, inattentiveness, paranoia, depression, euphoria, hallucination, delusions, sleeplessness, violence, criminal tendencies, homicidal activity, problems in functioning at the home, school, workplace, and at social setting (J.H. Jaffee. 2005).

Persistent consumption of the drug lead to exhaustion of the nor-epinephrine levels in the brain. The effect on the dopamine and its transporters sites is even more severe (causing severe depletion). There was also a drop in the serotenergic activity (J.H. Jaffee. 2005).

The axon and its terminals undergo damage. The cell bodies of the dopamine nerves are usually preserved, which could explain why some of the abusers can recover. Methamphetamines may spare the nor-adrenergic system but destroys the serotenergic nerves. The stimulation threshold in animals was also altered following chronic and excessive exposure to methamphetamines. Anhedonia developed over persistent use. The individual may be at a higher risk of developing Parkinsonism (as the dopaminergic system and its pathways are permanently damaged). Animal studies have demonstrated damage of the blood vessels present in the brain, destruction of the nerves, development of microscopic bleeding spots, etc.

When amphetamines are administered in very high amounts, the tiny arterioles present in the brain are degenerated and a rise in the body temperature may develop. The individual can develop shock, seizures, coma, and can meet with fatal outcomes. The amphetamines may also cause damage to the heart as the function of nor-adrenergic, dopamine and serotonin is affected, and hence, the blood pressure is altered. Frequently, the blood pressure mechanism began to tolerate the drug.

The muscles in various parts of the body including the blood vessels may be destroyed due to oxidation. The kidney may also get damaged. Some of the signs and symptoms of amphetamines include pure judgment, memory loss, poor decision-making capacity, psychosis and compromise of other cognitive functions, increased sexual activity and increased risk of developing STD’s (such as HIV and hepatitis infections) (J.H. Jaffee. 2005).

Methamphetamines abuse individuals usually do not seek treatment. However, a percent of abusers who actually seek treatment do it for several reasons such as motivation (69%), criminal problems (31%), family and social pressure (22%), etc. There has been a rise in the number of people seeking treatment for methamphetamine abuse in several parts of the US in recent years. One of the frequently utilized techniques to treat this condition is psychosocial methods. This technique can be administered in an individual or group setting. This form of treatment actually evolved from cocaine abuse treatment.

The treatment approach popularly utilized and rather successful in treating the condition is known as ‘Matrix Neurobehavioral model”, which permits greater participation of the patient and has a lot of benefits. Cognitive behavior therapy is usually utilized in this form of treatment which is highly specific for treating the amphetamine abuse. It can be performed in a number of treatment settings such as inpatient, outpatient, group setting, individual settings, managed care settings, etc. The treatment is usually conducted over 4 months (Drug-Free America. 2006). It can also be utilized to treat different types of amphetamine abuse including amphetamine dependence. The behavioral approach utilized in amphetamine abuse is similar to that of cocaine abuse, as expression of both these conditions is very similar.

The treatment settings for amphetamine abuse should be carefully selected and depends on several factors such as finance, personal issues, threats from outside, family support available, severity of the disorder, etc (J.H. Jaffee. 2005). The main aim of the treatment is to prevent use of drug and relapses episodes of abuse, and maintaining a drug-free lifestyle. The best way in which the methamphetamine can be reduced is by creating and supporting a drug-free environment. Teenagers and students should be educated about the ill-effects of the drug and the manner in which it would destroy their lives.

They should also be told that drugs do not offer a solution to their problems in life, and should be educated in solving these problems in a more appropriate manner. They should also be encouraged to see a professional in cases of a serious problem that cannot be handled. The youth should also be encouraged to keep away from alcohol and tobacco. They should be educated in consuming a nutritious diet and exercising regularly. For their physical and mental health problems, they should visit a mental health specialist or a physician.

As amphetamines can increase the sex activity and increase the risk of developing serious infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B people should be educated of the manner in which these dangerous diseases can be prevented (through safe sex and staying away from the drugs). Teenagers who have consumed methamphetamines in the past should be frequently monitored for drug-sue by determining the presence of the drug in the urine sample. Methamphetamine preventive programs should be conducted frequently in schools and colleges, to ensure that the students stay away from the drug (Charles Curie. 2005). In many states, sale of ephedrine (which is contained in cold medications) is made stricter.

References:
Anderson Orr. “Don’t Meth with Texas.” 2006. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. 19 Apr. 2007. http://publicaffairs.uth.tmc.edu/hleader/archive/Drug_Abuse_Addiction/2006/meth-0601.html

Charles Curie. “Testimony.” 2005. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 19 Apr. 2007. http://www.hhs.gov/asl/testify/t050425.html

J.H. Jaffee. “Amphetamine (or Amphetamine-Like) Related Disorders.” Kaplan and Sadock’s: Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. Ed. Sadock, B. J., and Sadock, V. A., Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Vol. 1, 8th ed, pp. 1188-98.

National Institute of Drug Abuse. “NIDA Info Facts: Methamphetamine.” 2006. NIDA. 19 Apr. 2007. http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/methamphetamine.html

Robert Mathias. “NIDA Initiative Tackles Methamphetamine Use.” 1998. NIDA. 19 Apr. 2007. http://www.nida.nih.gov/NIDA_Notes/NNVol13N1/Meth.html

The Partnership for Drug-Free America. “Meth Use Significant Problem in the United States.” 2006. NIDA. 19 Apr. 2007. http://www.drugfree.org/Portal/DrugIssue/News/Meth_Use_a_Significant_Problem_in_the_US

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