Meth Crystal Addiction and Abuse Problems in Los Angeles County
Meth addiction and abuse problems are on a rise in Los Angeles County and many other places in other countries. Its use and abuse has become so common that some people have started referring to it as the new heroin. Just like any other drug, the use of this drug above its therapeutic dose has produced toxicities that have been proven to be hazardous to human health.
When people find themselves in addiction and abuse problems of Meth crystals, they then turn to the health care institutions and other rehab centers, which increase the responsibility of nurses as well as counselors. In this paper we shall look at some of the complications of addiction and abuse problems in Los Angeles County. We shall also see its impacts on the human health and health care systems. Furthermore, we shall bring into limelight the role that nursing has to play in this whole scenario and what is being done at the government and private level to make people give up this drug.
Also known as metamfetamine, meth, crystal, ice, glass, tik, methylamphetamine, N-methyl amphetamine and desoxyephedrine, methamphetamine is a known psycho stimulant (Drug Profiles, 2011). It is known to occur in two enantiomers and is rarely prescribed (Castle, Aubert, Khalid & Einstein, 2007).
Normally, the crystal meth is used by people is form of smoke in glass pipes that are similar to the way cocaine is used. Furthermore, it can also be injected, dry as well as in dissolved form. It can also be swallowed, sniffed and it can also be inserted in the urethra and anus.
When given in low dosages, meth can cause increased alertness, energy in tired and fatigued individuals and concentration. However, when given in high doses, this drug is capable of inducing mania that is accompanied by euphoria, sentiments of high self-esteem along with increased libido (Mack, Frances and Miller, 2005).
This drug also has poses a threat for addiction and abuse problems because it activates the psychological reward system in the brain. It does by activating a series of reactions that allows the release of dopamine in the brain. This cascade of reactions is termed as Amphetamine or stimulant psychosis.
If this drug is used chronically, it can also cause post-withdrawal symptoms in individuals. These symptoms are caused because of the neurotoxicity to dopaminergic neurons as a result of methamphetamine. On the other hand, it has been noted that the post-withdrawal symptoms can persist over the withdrawal period of time that is for months and at times also for about a year (Cruickshank and Dyer, 2009). Moreover, this drug not only causes psychological damage, but also physical damage to the human body. The main manifestations of the physical damage are symptoms of cardiovascular diseases (Darke, McKetin and Duflou, 2008). These are also a result of chronic use as well as acute overdose of the drug.
The harmful effects of this drug will be discussed in this paper along with the addiction and abuse problems that results from its chronic use. As this is the new drug that over taking the addiction and abuse problems of other drugs like cocaine and heroin in many regions of USA including Los Angeles County, it is important for us to look at some statistics and other information that is suggestive of these problems, their effects on the community including the nursing department. Also, we shall see the groups of people who are particularly susceptible to such addiction and abuse problems. Moreover, we shall also bring into limelight the ways through which these people can be helped to overcome their addiction and abuse problems.
According to a research that was undertaken with sponsorship of University of California, Los Angeles, the use of bupropion in treating the patients who were dependent on Meth crystals was tested. In this study, addicts of age 18 and above were recruited. However, no healthy volunteers were recruited in this city and only those individuals were chosen who were willing to get their addiction problem treated.
The reason why this study is beneficial for the addiction and abuse problems of meth crystals is that this study also provided an insight into the biology of methamphetamine that can further can help to devise ways to treat the addiction problems.
The people who were selected for this study had to use a specific range of methamphetamine in the 30 days before they entered for the study. It was also made sure that these people were willing to comply with the procedures of this study including genotyping. On the other hand, a written consent was also taken from these people. (Heinzerling, 2012).
Use of Meth Crystals
Methamphetamine has a number of medical uses. This drug is an approved one by the Food and Drug Administration. Its common use can be found in the treatment of ADHD as well as exogenous obesity in children as well as in adults (Desoxyn Drug Information, 2011). Exogenous obesity is the one that finds its origins in the factors that not in control of the patient. The Schedule II drug in the United States, Methamphetamine is sold to the people under the trade name of Desoxyn. This drug can also be prescribes off-label and can be used to treat diseases like narcolepsy and depression that has been proved to be treatment-resistant. On the other hand, this drug is commonly being used nowadays for its euphoric properties.
The physical effects of methamphetamine or meth crystals are anorexia, dilated pupils, hyperactivity, excessive sweating with flushed skin. Moreover, this drug also causes bruxism dry mouth and head ache. The effects of this drug on the cardiovascular system include arrhythmias, bradycardia, tachycardia along with increased respiratory rate and high blood pressure (Mohler, 2006). One of the detrimental effects of this drug on the heart is that it can also cause myocardial infarction (Physiological Effects of a Methamphetamine Overdose | Montana State University, 2011). This drug is also known to cause high body temperature with diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, muscle twitching, palpitations, dizziness, insomnia and tremors. Its effects on the skin include dry and itchy skin, however sometimes it is only dry, pallor and acne can also occur with high doses and chronic use. It has also been reported that chronic use of this drug can cause convulsions (Tallahassee: Institute for Intergovernmental Research, 2009). One of the other fatal, or at least paralyzing, effects of this drug is stroke (Erowid Methamphetamine Vault: Effects, 2011).
Now we shall discuss the psychological effects of this drug that include euphoria, enhanced libido, anxiety, increased alertness, energy, concentration, self-esteem, sociability, self-confidence, aggressiveness with irritability, psychomotor agitation and other disorders. Apart from this, it can cause the compulsive skin picking disorder as well as hair pulling, delusions of grandiosity and hallucinations. People who consume thus drug get increased feelings of power and invincibility along with recurrent obsessive behaviors. Moreover, this drug also causes paranoia in many people (Amphetamines: Drug Use and Dependence | Merck Manual Professional, 2011).
Methamphetamine also causes withdrawal symptoms in a person who uses it and then stops its use. The main withdrawal symptoms from which a dependent person suffers is depression, fatigue and increased appetite. These symptoms may be present in an individual for days if he or she has been using it occasionally. On the other hand, with chronic use, these symptoms may last for about weeks or months.
The duration of the withdrawal symptoms depend on duration of time for which the individual has been consuming methamphetamine. Some of the other withdrawal symptoms are irritability, agitation, anxiety, excessive sleep, restlessness. There are some sleeping disorders that a person might suffer from as part of the withdrawal symptoms. These include vivid and bright dreams during REM sleep (McGregor, Srisurapanont, Jittiwutikarn, Laobhripatr, Wongtan, White, 2005).
The long-term use of meth is associated with depression and suicide attempts along with fatal heart diseases. People who use this drug over a long duration of time, they normally have violent behaviors because they feel anxious all the time. Its long-term use is also not advisable because it has a tendency to cause addiction in the people of use it.
According to the studies, methamphetamine does not have direct neurotoxic effects. However, when it is used over a long period of time, it can cause neurotoxic effects. Some reports have also suggested that the use of meth can be associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease. This is because this drug results in increased release of dopamine, which is neurotoxic (Thrash, Thiruchelvan, Ahuja, Suppiramaniam, Dhanasekaran, 2009). When this drug is used over a long period of time, an up-regulation of the dopaminergic receptors takes place that is responsible for causing neurotoxicity. This neurotoxicity then results in cognitive disorders that include memory loss, attention deficit along with decrease in execution functions. The use of methamphetamine also causes negative effects on the serotonin system (Krasnova, Cadet, 2009).