Meth Addicition

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Addiction to crystal meth -- methamphetamine -- is taking a terrible toll on users, families and friends, communities, law enforcement, and health care. Meth is highly addictive and easily obtainable everywhere. Find out how meth affects users and what can be done to break the grip of addiction. David Rosenker of the Caron Foundation joined us on Aug. 2, 2005 to answer your questions about meth.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, David. Thank you for joining us today. Can you get us started by explaining what crystal meth is?

ROSENKER:
Crystal is basically, in its simplest form, over-the-counter medication and various other amphetamine-based products that are hooked together and sold as methamphetamine. One of the largest concerns about meth is it's base chemicals is over-the-counter cold medications such as Sudafed and so on, which has made the ease of access to get the medication much easier.

MODERATOR:
So when someone uses meth, it's a crapshoot as to what they are getting?

ROSENKER:
Absolutely, because most of the meth labs are making their own combination of meth, varying the makeup of different chemicals.

MODERATOR:
In addition to the harm from the meth, there are other toxins, correct?

ROSENKER:
Correct.

MODERATOR:
What effect does meth have on the user's body? His mind?

ROSENKER:
One of the most concerning aspects of meth use is that it is high-addictive content. Similar to past drugs that we've seen, such as PCP, heroin and other major drugs that have a high level of addictive content, meth is one of those drugs you cannot use socially, such as PCP and heroin. It's not uncommon for somebody to use meth one to two times and become immediately addicted.

The impact on the mind and body is similar to your intense "speed" user who becomes paranoid, agitated and aggressive, and it takes its toll on the body very rapidly. As many people saw in the Oregon newspaper, The Faces of Meth , the destruction of the person's physical appearance can happen from three to six months, from rotting of teeth to skin discoloration to loss of weight and various other internal organ damage.

MODERATOR:
I'd like to refer you to oregonlive.com; search for meth and find The Faces of Addiction .

"It creates a less than desirable "high" in the end and makes people do things they normally would not do under the influence, especially treat people that care about them, badly."

MEMBER QUESTION:
How long does it take for meth to destroy the liver if it is eaten, along with smoked and snorted?

ROSENKER:
Commonly it's smoked or snorted. The destruction to the liver is fairly rapid, like the rest of the effects on the body. The liver, unfortunately, and fortunately, has the ability to regenerate itself pretty quickly no matter what kind of damage we've done to it. That said, I've never heard of anybody eating it, so the effect of them eating it on the liver, I don't know that.

Overall, the effect on the liver is -- it's an extreme mix of toxic chemicals and will have an effect very rapidly. It depends on the amount, length of time, and the various other aspects of the person's health that's using it.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Why does meth make you feel -- I don't know -- all the things it makes you feel? I did it because I wouldn't feel anything emotionally. However, it just gave me a new set of horrible feelings.

ROSENKER:
That's a pretty common addictive behavioral response, and not necessarily specific to meth use. Most people use substances so they don't have to feel anything emotionally, and one of the largest impacts of meth is it creates, and will create, feelings in the long run that are not desirable.



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