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Methamphetamine use rising

The woman’s heart broke for her nephew when she recognized “meth mouth.” His life had been troubled. His mother had come right out and told him she had wanted nothing to do with him. His extended family reached out to make a difference in his life to no avail. The damage was done, seemingly irreparable. As sad as she was she hadn’t the heart to say anything. She knew he would deny it, lie to her and that would make it all worse.

NIDA (National Institute of Drug Addiction) at the National Institutes of Health cites the long-term effects of meth misuse, first defining addiction as a chronic, relapsing disease with compulsive drug-seeking use. It also involves functional and molecular changes in the brain.

Methamphetamine is a “powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system.” The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord, the parts of the body that control most of our bodily functions like our movements, how we think and speak, and memory. Meth causes users to struggle with those things because it changes the structure and function of the brain.

Because the high comes fast and fades rapidly, to get the desired effect higher doses are needed, taken more often. Sometimes users “binge and crash,” going several days without eating and sleeping while they take meth every few hours, NIDA says.

Methamphetamine was popular in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and now is making a comeback. Published reports advise that the largest producers of crystal methamphetamine are Myanmar, Vietnam and Mexico. Mexico dominates in the West, produced by criminal organizations there. It is “highly pure, potent,” and cheap.

People who abuse this drug put themselves at higher risk for infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C. People can test positive for methamphetamine after exposure to secondhand smoke. The jury is still out on whether the secondhand smoke can cause other health effects.

Overdose can happen. Statistics show that in 2017, 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths were related to meth; 50 percent were attributed to opioid use with half of those related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Sometimes fentanyl is added to the meth without the user’s knowledge, NIDA advises. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports an increase in heroin use among meth users, contributing to the current opioid crisis.

Stroke, heart attack and other organ problems can result from meth use. There is no drug treatment for meth. “Because of the potency, the drug can lead to rapid dependency … The withdrawal symptoms of meth are debilitating and painful, and can cause the user to take more of the drug in hopes of counteracting the withdrawal process …” advises Addiction Center, a West Coast referral service that helps people connect with help in their own locality.

The drug is so powerful a person needs help to get through withdrawal and detox before they can go for help to defeat addiction.

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Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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