Drug Addicition: Meth (cont.)

Short term, in the beginning stages, people get "high" and the sensations they feel are euphoria, tons of energy, excited, supersensitive to body touch, and a brief period of time over extended use that turns into, as stated before, paranoia, itchy, restless feelings. So in the beginning, many addicts, and this is similar to other drugs, be it alcohol or other drugs, most people use it to feel better.

When it turns into addiction and crosses the line from abuse to dependency, the emotional "feeling good" disappears, and the addict typically keeps trying to chase that "feeling good" by continuing to use -- that is the cycle of addiction.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Why does meth make you not have feelings? You can be the most evil person to the people you love the most.

ROSENKER:
That, again, is the addictive cycle. What's specific to meth is you rarely run into a "happy" meth user as you would possibly a happy alcoholic or drunk, so to speak.

The meth addict tends to get agitated pretty quickly, irritable, hostile, angry and short-tempered. 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. Again, that's the cycle of addiction.

MODERATOR:
Crystal meth has been around for years. Why are so many becoming addicted to it now?

ROSENKER:
There is a similarity between the trend of meth use and Ecstasy. Ecstasy is one of those drugs that has been around for many years. What happened to Ecstasy is it was repackaged, so to speak -- made in a cheaper way and made to be appealing by either colors, shapes, whatever, to a younger population. It got introduced into a market, like the raves, of adolescents that that drug appealed to.

Meth has been around for a long time, but the methamphetamine went through a similar cycle, repackaged, made in a cheaper way and was hyped as the new speed, although some of its contents have been around for many years. Like many drugs it goes in cycles as being attractive. Heroin is another example -- 15, 20 years ago heroin was seen as the drug that most kids would not use and was seen as a highly addictive -- you had to be a street addict to use it. Over the years it was also repackaged and sold in the cheaper snortable way that made it an easier access for a younger population. The phenomenon is very similar, and it's the same we do with many things in our society with not just drugs.

We do the same things with tobacco and various other chemicals to get your attention. If you can get the attention of the adolescent adult, that's where the market is, whether it be a positive product or a negative product, such as meth and other drugs.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What do you mean by "repackaged"?

ROSENKER:
Repackaged -- what I mean is like Ecstasy came in a blue pill, different color than many years ago, also had shapes and designs engraved in the pill that attempted to describe the high, like a dolphin, it was supposed to be a different kind of high. That's how it was repackaged.

Heroin was repackaged in a way that it was a cleaner type of drug and made available in a cheaper way and snortable so you didn't have to shoot it up with syringes -- that made it more appealing to a younger group.

Methamphetamine -- making it a drug with easier access, making it cheaper, and again making it snortable. That's what I mean by repackaged and more appealing.

MODERATOR:
So dealers market the product to create the initial demand, and addiction can do the rest of the selling.

ROSENKER:
Absolutely.

"What's concerning about methamphetamine is that it appears to be literally decimating towns as it moves across the U.S. -- economically, in all areas, from employment, jobs -- everything."

MEMBER QUESTION:
Wasn't it legal before and prescribed for stupid reasons like lack of energy or depression?

ROSENKER:
Amphetamines have been around many years and were prescribed for many ridiculous reasons. Most often it was prescribed for weight loss as the No. 1 reason.

The amphetamine that was "prescribed" was a different mix of chemicals and a cleaner mix of chemical than methamphetamine. In its simplest form, amphetamine is a lab manufactured chemical and methamphetamine is a street manufactured chemical, cooked in somebody's house, garage, trailer or wherever, with various chemicals that were put together and cooked on the stove to make meth in uncontrolled environments, unlike the traditional amphetamines that were prescribed by physicians.

The addictive level in methamphetamine is many times over than the straight amphetamine prescription.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I'm wondering about how many times or how often it needs to be used before a person is addicted?

ROSENKER:
It's an interesting, simple and complicated question. It varies from person to person. There is no telling from one person to the next how many times are going to cause an addiction to a particular substance, whether it would be one, two, three or 50.



STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!