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PBS Frontline The Meth Epidemic Documentary

man smoking crystal meth

Video and transcript by PBS Frontline. Read our special report on Crystal Meth Treatment.

man smoking crystal methSpeed. Meth. Glass. Crystal. On the street, methamphetamine has many names. What started as a fad among West Coast motorcycle gangs in the 1970s has spread across the United States, and despite lawmakers’ calls for action, the drug is now more potent, and more destructive, than at any time in the past decade. In The Meth Epidemic, FRONTLINE, in association with The Oregonian, investigates the meth rampage in America: the appalling impact on individuals, families and communities, and the difficulty of controlling an essential ingredient in meth—ephedrine and pseudoephedrine—sold legally in over-the-counter cold remedies…

 

https://youtu.be/IYjsvJUd6o8

Meth’s destructive power comes from its impact on the user’s brain. “Dopamine is the brain’s primary pleasure chemical,” says UCLA professor and meth expert Dr. Richard Rawson. “If you take a hit on a pipe or an injection of methamphetamine, you get an increase from zero to about 1,250 units. … This produces an extreme peak of euphoria that people describe as something like they’ve never experienced.” Researchers have found that meth creates this high by destroying the very part of the brain that generates dopamine, which makes them unable to feel pleasure from anything except more meth. “It actually changes how the brain operates,” Rawson continues. “It’s a wonder anyone ever gets off meth.” According to the World Health Organization, meth abuse worldwide is worse than that of cocaine and heroin combined.

“The Meth Epidemic” tells the story of two potential solutions to the crisis and examines why neither was fully tried. In the mid-80s, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration first proposed controlling the retail sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in cold medicines by having customers register at the counter and limiting how much they could buy. Pharmaceutical companies, however, resisted the DEA’s plan. Allan Rexinger, a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry, felt the DEA was overreacting and unfairly punishing a legitimate business: “They have a different way of thinking. DEA agents carry guns; DEA agents are killed in the jungles of South America. But when you’re working in Congress, you don’t need to carry a gun. We felt like we were being treated just like a Colombian drug lord.” Meanwhile, Gene Haislip, a former deputy administrator at the DEA, says: “They live in the business community, where the name of the game is to make money and sell product. They’re highly skilled, very well organized and very well funded, and they can be quite formidable.” Faced with a choice, the White House and Congress ultimately exempted cold medication from the regulatory proposals.

Read our special reports Crystal Meth Addiction and What is Crystal Meth

And if you or a loved one is tangle in Crystal Meth use, please call our hotline.  Help is one phone call away.  877-794-9934

 

 

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Signs Of Crystal Meth Addiction

help for crystal meth addicts

There are endless images of before and after photos of meth users online, and each tells a horror story.  We have elected to not republish images of people who’s lives and bodies have been decimated by crystal meth use and instead simply provide and educational guide in this post. 

help for crystal meth addicts
There is always hope

The toll crystal meth takes on a users body is profound and its not something that is easy to hide.  The physical signs of crystal meth addiction are distinct and explicit.  The meth users appearance and overall health can often take a very bad turn for the worse which can increase their sense of shame and guilt about their drug use, which all too often feeds their perceived need to get high.   In some cases, however, the deterioration of their body become a wake up call for them to reach out for help.

Physical Symptoms

Skin legions

Chronic users often have a gray or yellowish appearance, and often show signs of sweating due to dehydration and overexertion.  Another sign of meth abuse is the presence of what is called “meth mites.” A user will sometimes experience the sensation of insects crawling on or underneath the skin and they begin to itch and scratch at them resulting in pock marks and open sores that can leave permanent scars.  Acne and skin rashes also result from poor hygiene, poor diet, and dehydration. Skin around the nails is often infected Compulsive nail biting is not uncommon.

Nasal Issues

Snorting (inhaling through the nostrils) methamphetamine will quickly dry out the mucous membranes and increase dehydration.  Sinus infections are common as are nosebleeds.  Advanced stages include a deviated and punctured the septum.

Dental problems

One of the more telling  signs of methamphetamine use is “meth mouth” which consists of tooth decay and gum disease which is brought on by chronic use of crystal meth. It causes a drying effect on the mouth, yet saliva is critical to healthy teeth and gums.  Dental/oral sores are caused by dehydration and compounded by a lack of oral hygiene. Heightened adrenaline levels also lead to teeth grinding, jaw clenching, which further wears down the teeth and gums.

Anxiety and restlessness

Crystal meth causes a rush of adrenaline which brings on repetitive motions such as rocking or even twitching. Involuntary muscle movements and hand wringing are common.

Heart problems

Cardiac problems are common, including  irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and severe chest pains.  Sometimes the addict is convinced they are experiencing a heart attack.

Respiratory issues

Those who freebase the drug will often experience chronic bronchitis and “smoker’s cough” resulting in damaged lungs.

Summary of the physical signs of crystal meth addiction

The use of this drug can be devastating to one’s health and the downward spiral can be rapid, however no matter how far someone has gone, or how bad off they are, there is always hope and always help.  If you’re tangled in crystal meth use, or know of a loved one who is, reach out for help.  Learn about help resources in your own community and you can also call our hotline at any time.

Our phones are answered by those who understand addiction and can provide guidance and and help you determine treatment options.  The call is free 877-794-9934

Learn more about Crystal Meth Treatment in our special report.

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Suboxone Treatment

Suboxone

Naxolene is the added ingredient on a variation of subutex which is called suboxone. This is the normally given to patients. Its effects are the same as Subutex. Like subutex, it is used as a pain reliever and a medication drug in treating opioid addiction.

Suboxone
Suboxone

Effects of Suboxone

In determining the effects of suboxone to it’s users, numerous studies have been made. Suboxone tablets have been studied in 575 patients, Subutex tablets in 1834 patients and buprenorphine sublingual solutions in 2470 patients. A total of 1270 females have received buprenorphine in clinical trials. Dosing recommendations are based on statistics from one trial of both tablet formulations and two trials of the ethanolic solution. All trials used buprenorphine in conjunction with psychosocial counseling as component of a complete addiction treatment program. There have been no clinical studies conducted to review the effectiveness of buprenorphine as the only component of treatment.

In a double blind placebo and active controlled study, 326 heroin-addicted subjects were randomly assigned to either Suboxone 16 mg per day, 16 mg Subutex per day or placebo tablets. The primary study comparison was to assess the efficacy of Subutex and Suboxone individually alongside placebo. The fraction of thrice-weekly urine samples that were negative for non-study opioids was statistically higher for both Subutex and Suboxone, than for placebo.

What is Suboxone?

Since suboxone is a mixture of two presently marketed medications, buprenorphine and naloxone, it offers a combination of a weak narcotic (buprenorphine) and a narcotic antagonist (naloxone). The latter is supplemented to put off addicts from injecting the tablets intravenously, as has happened with tablets only containing buprenorphine; because it contains naloxone, Suboxone is very likely to generate intense withdrawal symptoms if misused intravenously by opioid-addicted individuals. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor and an antagonist at the kappaopioid receptor. Naloxone is an antagonist at the mu-opioid receptor.

Like most addictions, suboxone or subutex addiction is quite unavoidable. The drug is not supposed to be used occasionally. It should be used as a continuous treatment method and thus, may become dangerous if usage is stopped too quickly. Like heroin, suboxone could result to a “euphoric” feeling. It cannot be denied that the person who is continuously taking the drug has a very high risk of becoming dependent and addicted to the drug. It has a mechanism that imitates the actions of naturally occurring pain-reducing chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are found in the brain and spinal cord and decrease pain by combining with opioid receptors. However, opioids also act in the brain to cause feelings of euphoria and hallucinations. This very much illustrates their addictive inclination among people who are taking them in a long-term basis.

Moreover, in taking in suboxone, one should be very careful. As much as possible this should be taken with great regulation by a medical expert. This medicine may cause drowsiness. If affected, do not drive or operate machinery. Drowsiness will be made worse by alcohol, tranquilizers, sedatives and sleeping tablets such as benzodiazepines. Taking these in mixture with buprenorphine can also cause potentially dangerous problems with breathing and so should be avoided while taking this medicine. The liver function should be frequently monitored while receiving treatment with this medicine.

Supervision and Monitoring is Recommended

In substance addiction, it is very excellent to use drugs such as subutex and suboxone. However, there has not at all been a substance that has been found to be an effective medication for addiction that is at the same time non-addictive. Science may have been in the route of trying to find the perfect drug that would provide us with the two benefits.

Substances, therefore, must be taken with caution and appropriate supervision from medical professionals. In addition, it is the liability of the person himself to look after his in-take of a drug. He should be the one controlling the drug, not the other way around.

See our special report “Crystal Meth Treatment“.

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Crystal Meth Educational Video

crystal meth educational video

Educational Crystal Meth video and transcript published with permission from Hopelinks

What is Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth is short for crystal methamphetamine. It is just one form of the drug methamphetamine.  There are 5 00,000 Meth users in the United States. Methamphetamine was created in 1887 for scientific reasons and was first used in pill form during WWII by soldiers to stay awake on long missions. Crystal Meth is commonly made from re-crystallizing the powder methamphetamine using a liquid solvent, creating the clear crystals.

How is it used?

Forms of amphetamine are inhaled, crushed and snorted, injected, or orally ingested.

What are the signs of use?

Clear signs of someone under the influence: foregoing food and sleep, decreased appetite, increased activity, wakefulness, increased attention, decreased fatigue, hyperthermia, rapid and irregular heartbeat. Prolonged Use can result in: anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, violent behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions

Medical detoxification is not needed however psychological detoxification is vital.

What are some of the withdrawal symptoms?

Some withdrawal symptoms include: depression, anxiety, intense cravings, and extreme fatigue.

Meth Addicts Can Recover

There are options for the treatment of meth that include various levels of treatment ranging from outpatient to in-hospital care. This is determined by the needs of each individual.

It is also encouraged for the meth addict to participate in 12 Step or abstinence based fellowships and support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous

If you or a loved one is caught up in crystal meth use call our hotline and get answers and guidance today.  Phones are answered by trained specialists 24/7 and the call is free.  Call now 877-794-9934

Learn more about treatment options from our special report Crystal Meth Treatment.

References

STREET DRUGS: a drug identification guide 2010
National Institute on Drug Abuse:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/

Medline Plus:
http://nih.gov/

The Vaults of Erowid:
http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/amphetamines/amphetamines.shtml
http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/meth/meth.shtml

Project Know:
http://www.projectknow.com/research/methamphetamine/

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What Are Addictive Behaviors?

Addictive behaviors

What Are Addictive Behaviors?

Addictive behaviors
Addictive behaviors can become addictions

Addictive behavior is understood to be performing similar functions without experiencing any pleasure or ‘pay off’ for this. Addictive behavior can be an activity that’s perhaps not physically addicting alone. A few examples of addictive behavior are, eating, gambling, sex, Internet use, or shopping. None of these are physically addictive however many people repeat them because of powerful impulse to do so, though they could know it’s not in their best interest. This repetitive behavior may very hazardous and must be treated.

What is a Compulsive Behavior?

Compulsive behavior is recognized by the mental health community as a mental problem. Compelling behaviors can be extremely destructive in a persons’ life. Individuals often feel not able to stop the obsessive behavior by themselves. The repetitive action may give relief to them from their problems even though it offers no pleasure for the individual. Compulsions are often combined with anxiety and depression. Compelling behaviors make reference to actions that a person can’t get a grip on that interfere with an individuals’ life.

Recent studies have suggested that compulsive behaviors may trigger exactly the same neurotransmitter response as drugs or alcohol. However the more those brain waves are stimulated, the stronger they become. Compulsive behavior might have side effects on the persons’ life which are much like use of alcohol or drugs. Gambling and shopping compulsions can cause economic problems, and compulsive eating can lead to health or relationship issues.

Addictive Behavior Self Assessment

Here a few pre-determined questions you can think about to ascertain if you are experiencing compulsive behavior.

* Are you busy with planning and doing the behavior??

* Is the behavior having a negative effect on your daily life?

* Do you cover your behavior from the others?

* Do you are feeling not able to stop?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need some help and have a compulsive disorder. Treatment for this type of disorder typically includes behavioral therapy and may include medication. Some anti-depressants are helpful as well. Furthermore, you can find support groups for many compulsive behaviors.

Addictive actions have the ability to cause many problems in an individual’s life. Addictive behaviors are irrational and though anyone could be alert to it, they’re still driven to do them. The individual performs the compulsive behavior to help make the compulsive thoughts stop.

It is important to know that compulsive behavior can be addressed. There is relief available for anyone seeking help. Practitioners and organizations are easy-to find online.  For more information about addictive behavior treatment, or drug abuse and recovery call our hotline and talk with a trained professional. The call is free 77-794-9934