Methamphetamine: Personal and social consequences

Last modified: Monday, 1. June 2009 - 6:22 am

The Personal and social consequences of drug abuse are wide-reaching. Consequences of drug abuse affect all ethnic groups and all ages. The impact of drug abuse is a complete societal problem that leaves no person in this country, either directly or indirectly, untouched.
Methamphetamine addiction is quickly reaching epidemic proportions in some areas of the country. The drug lends itself to addiction in many ways. First, it is cheap to manufacture and therefore is inexpensive on the street, especially when compared to other powerful drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Second, smoking or injecting methamphetamine brings on an almost instantaneous high that lasts much longer than an equivalent amount of cocaine. However, because tolerance to methamphetamine occurs quite rapidly, users typically indulge in what is referred to as a “binge and crash” pattern of use, that is, using methamphetamine over and over to try and recreate their original high.
The personal consequences of methamphetamine abuse can be staggering. People addicted to methamphetamine generally have a variety of psychiatric and medical problems. As compared to persons their own age, people who abuse methamphetamine have a significantly higher incidence of anxiety, depression, schizophrenic-like symptoms, paranoia, drastic mood swings, and other serious psychiatric disorders. Long-term users of methamphetamine often display very violent behaviors. Methamphetamine abusers also suffer from multiple medical problems. Due to their intravenous use, methamphetamine addicts have a very high rate of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. People who abuse methamphetamines are also at higher risk of high blood pressure and irregular heart rates.
The effects of having a family member who is addicted to methamphetamine can be terrible for the user’s spouse and children. Addicts often find that maintaining meaningful employment is almost impossible. Likewise, maintaining stable relationships or marriage and making and keeping friends are nearly impossible tasks for addicts. Most methamphetamine addicts have to steal in order to maintain their habit, so they are at very high risk of being jailed.
The children of methamphetamine addicts also suffer from the their parent’s addiction. The risk of danger to them begins even before birth. Methamphetamine use during pregnancy decreases the life-sustaining blood flow to the unborn child, along with having a direct toxic effect on the developing baby’s brain. After birth, infants born to mothers who are methamphetamine addicts may show classical withdrawal signs, including uncontrollable trembling, trouble making eye contact, trouble feeding, and sleeping excessively.
These children grow up and show higher levels of aggressive behavior, have greater difficulty adjusting to different social environments, and have a higher rate of difficulties at school when compared to children whose mothers were not methamphetamine users.
Methamphetamine users also pose a danger to the communities in which they reside. Many users of methamphetamine also manufacture the drug, since the precursor chemicals needed are cheap and easily available. However, these chemicals are highly toxic, and thus introduce the risk to the community of toxic gases, fires, and explosions.
Chemical residues and waste generated in the manufacturing of methamphetamine pose a serious danger to the environment. This waste is often poured down the drain, into storm sewers, or into crudely dug pits in the ground. These chemicals can leach into the soil and groundwater and cause contamination for many years.

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