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No More Sunsets: The death of a meth addict

  1. Apr 4, 2007 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/03/27/meth.death.ap/index.html


    This film is being touted as deadly effective. I have watched or known people struggling with abuse or addiction to various drugs - alcohol, pot, lsd, cocaine, heroin, uppers and or downers, nicotine and caffeine, but I have never seen anything like Meth. It is the worst drug that has ever hit the streets in my lifetime. It destroys people virtually overnight, and traps them with very little chance of escape. I recall the story of a middle-class housewife who was lured into meth use for weight loss. IIRC, she said that it was a six day trip from being a mostly happy but overweight mom, to a desperate meth addict who would give up her own children for a fix.
     
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  3. Apr 4, 2007 #2

    ShawnD

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    Speaking of meth, here is an episode of Frontline
    The Meth Epidemic


    It's bad stuff alright but try to take media hype with a grain of salt. Meth, like cocaine or caffeine, is mostly a psychological addiction. If you stop taking meth or coke for a few days, you'll be fine. If you want to see addiction, look at somebody withdrawing from heroin or cigarettes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2007
  4. Apr 4, 2007 #3
    I dont know. from school I've heard horrible things about the types of recurring hallucinations you can get from taking meth that will come back to you for the rest of your life even after you stop taking it. its probably the one drug that can do the most damage the most quickly out there. with the risks, i'm suprised anyone would be willing to take it even once
     
  5. Apr 4, 2007 #4
    Meth and most of the "harder" drugs seem to attract more of the low-income/uneducated crowd (as do most drugs in general I suppose). One problem I have noticed even around school is some people using prescription drugs like Adderall to stay up for days on end, cramming for exams. These people wouldn't consider themselves to be drug users, and of course think that something like Adderall is much better than a drug off the street (certainly it's going to be pure at least). These drugs are still amphetamines, and people who use them regularly are also heading towards an addiction. They also seem to be prescribed much too often (if I wanted to get adderall, I could go to a doctor tomorrow and say I have "ADD" symptoms, then head home with a nice prescription, as I have heard many other people do).

    Best thing to keep in mind is don't use any drugs on any regular basis, preferably not at all. I had a brief time of experimenting, just to see what all the fuss was about I guess...and it's really not worth trying anything even to try it, as you won't get anywhere. It's also a bit shocking to see some of the people I used to be friends with, after they have really fallen into the drug world. A couple have just turned into burned-out shells of people, who think of nothing else but buying/selling drugs, and have no morals, will power, or any decency left in them.

    I'm taking a class on literature/fiction at the moment to satisfy my gen ed requirement, and we had to read this great book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Son-Den...5273405?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175744039&sr=8-1

    Basically it's a somewhat true story of the author's drug addiction, and many of the things that went on. It's a pretty accurate portrayal of the people involved in the drug world, and written in a way that a user would probably experience life. The bottom line though, is that these people are incredibly screwed up, for lack of a better term...most of them die or end up in jail, and jail is where most of them probably belong. (Or the mental house). It's a very well written book, although some of the stories are just downright shocking and appalling...and maybe that's the point.

    It's interesting to consider how we should control drugs in this country. Obviously the "war on drugs" does not work...maybe we should just make everything legal, taking the power and money out of the hands of criminals, and then focus on educating kids to stay away from the stuff.
     
  6. Apr 4, 2007 #5
    look its not a purely psychological issue: addiction is now believed to be largely genetic issue with alcohol and sedatives. Whats different about meth and like heroin or other opiates, is that the biggest risk is simply exposure. You folk would be amazed at who i treat at times--from little ole Aunt Martha, to Dr Jones, the anethesiologist who did martha's bypass.

    In school, re drugs you can count on propoganda. I would pay more attention to those you know and how their lives evolve: suspensions, breakups, legal problems, academic failure, run-aways and other problems with parents...

    Meth, medicaally speaking is by far the most dangerous illegal drug of abuse, drugs like LSD, XTC, even heroin pale in comparison.

    I don't know that continued exposure to the drug can make a permanant nutcase, but if you're anywhere close to having a psych disorder, meth will catapult you across the line.
     
  7. Apr 4, 2007 #6

    ShawnD

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    This is all pretty true. I've tried most drugs out there, including meth, and I can honestly say that what they all have in common is that they give some kind of positive effect that can be habit forming if you try to maintain that high. The one everybody can probably relate to is coffee. Coffee is pretty amazing stuff, but you usually burn out after a few hours. If you drink more coffee, you can keep the buzz going a bit longer. If you stay up for 2 days straight drinking coffee nonstop (we've all done this at least once), you will indeed look like a meth addict. You'll have the bags under your eyes, the glazed over look, you'll say incoherent things, and overall you'll just be a mess. Now imagine that coffee was literally 100x as expensive. You would need to start stealing things to get enough money to buy that coffee. Eventually you'll burn out and just sleep for a day, and it will be an amazing sleep. When you wake up, you'll be back to your normal self, but you can't have that since your normal self is nowhere near as awesome as your caffeinated self. Damn I'm out of coffee. What's Martinez' number again? .....

    I've nearly lost a few friends to meth. When they ran out of money, they eventually just stopped taking meth, and my group of friends was willing to take them back into the circle. Luckily those meth friends were guys so they didn't really have the ability to "trade" for more drugs.
     
  8. Apr 5, 2007 #7

    BobG

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    I heard this story on NPR yesterday morning: Mexican 'Ice' Replaces Home-Cooked Meth in U.S.

    Kind of depressing. It's almost as if all we've done is outsource American jobs to a foreign country. If you can't cut the demand, there's really not many ways to win a war against drugs.

    If you listen to the story instead of just reading it, the arrest is a little humorous (at least for those that believe he who laughs at the misfortune of others understands the meaning of life). You just don't expect a drug dealer to protest their arrest with, "What about my grandson?! I can't leave my grandson!"
     
  9. Apr 5, 2007 #8
    Bob,

    It is depressing. I believe there have at least three epidemics of amphetamine addiction, the first shortly after WW2, the sixties, and now, which is the longest running of the three. The whole idea of a war on drugs is about as ultimately effective as a war on terror. As long as there is enough profit margin, there will be a supply. As you said, need to reduce demand, and unfortunately scare tactics via propoganda films are probably not that effective. I was amused yesterday while talking to a young man who appears to be a major pothead, but so far not much else except for some dabbling. I was asking about his experience with XTC, and he grinned, "never again--have you met Josh, yet?" Well I was about to meet Josh, who has some of the more severe cognitive damage I have seen this side of inhalant abuse. The guy was a walking billboard.

    I wonder if the current strategy of jailing offenders is counterproductive. We are taking these billboards off the street, and placing them behind bars for what in many instances are minor infractions--classic case is someone on probation for possesion and/or some petty crime who fails his urine screens.

    Treatment is more effective and cheaper by a good stretch than warehousing in jails.

    BTW, for those interested in knowing more, HBO is currently airing a terrific documentary series on addicition.
     
  10. Apr 5, 2007 #9

    Moonbear

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    That's been my view on it for some time. These people need help, not criminal records. The illegality of it doesn't stop people from trying it and getting hooked, and the addiction doesn't go away just because you want to avoid going to jail again.

    And, that's an interesting additional point, does it seem somehow safer to the "kids" that the worst of the abusers are hidden behind bars and out of sight, so they don't see them out on the street like they were when I was a kid. Granted, it made certain parks and parts of town seem like very scary places, and enough of that out on the streets ruins an entire neighborhood, but then yes, you see that ruin and see those people who look like death-warmed-over lying out in the gutters, whether it was the town drunk or the heroine addicts, and if that wasn't enough to tell you there was nothing glamorous about drugs and something you never wanted to touch, ever, then I don't know what else would. It's not an easy question...on the one hand, you really don't want those people out living on the streets, but on the other hand, sanitizing everything and keeping them tucked away in jail also doesn't help, and the only experience kids have with drug abusers before they try it themselves is the glamorized Hollywood version of celebrities and rich kids partying in glitzy clubs or expensive houses.
     
  11. Apr 5, 2007 #10
    In principle, treatment is a great idea, but it really just comes down to that fact you can't help someone that doesn't want to help themselves. I'm a firm believer that NOT everyone in this world has some good in them, and they simply could care less about anyone else or themselves. This may make them the victim of the environment they were raised in (in some cases), but by no means is an excuse. I spent years on the wrong track in life, but now turned out just fine when one day something just clicked and it was time for a change (with time and help). I also know that sending someone to jail may remove them from the streets and possibly harming the public, but it by no means helps their addiction-- as it is nearly just as easy to find drugs while in the can versus on the streets.

    The problem is also not necessarily focused in cities and "inner city" type settings. I grew up in a typical low to middle class town and my high school had a worse drug problem than many of my friends who grew up in the "ghetto" in and around major cities.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2007
  12. Apr 5, 2007 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    Speaking as someone who watched a close family member have his life all but destroyed by meth, I completely disagree.

    It took him about fifteen years to get off the stuff. His own parents finally threw him out. He is now about 40 and has still never held down a real job. He owns virtually nothing and has lost a good number of his teeth. At about age twenty-five, a doctor told him that he has the lungs of an eighty year old.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2007
  13. Apr 5, 2007 #12

    Moonbear

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    It's only a "psychological" addiction if your definition of a psychological addiction means physical changes to neural structure and neurotransmitter functioning in the brain that can lead to long-term or permanent alteration of brain function. Just a few days of amphetamine exposure can lead to long-lasting neural changes. If you look in the literature under the term "sensitization" you'll find an extensive body of evidence supporting this.
     
  14. Apr 5, 2007 #13

    turbo

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    Here in Maine, we have a meth problem, but the most pressing problem is Oxycontin. People are breaking into other peoples' houses (not just burglery, but terrorizing and assault) in order to steal their pain medication. I would prefer to see drug-abuse decriminalized to remove the economic incentives for violence. Then we can de-populate the prisons and use the money we save on incarceration to fund education and outreach to cut the demand for drugs. Cut the profit in the drug business, and you cut the funding that keeps gangs and drug cartels in business. If cocaine was $10/gram in the US, the Cali cartel would dry up overnight and concentrate on squeezing protection money out of coffee-growers and banana companies.
     
  15. Apr 5, 2007 #14

    Evo

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    I feel old, I thought this was about methadone addiction. Growing up in the 60's and 70's, they were called meth addicts.

    I've known heroin/methadone addicts and amphetamine addicts. You could spot the amphetamine addict a mile away. I remember in high school the speed freaks would start shaking uncontrolably when it was time for a fix. They'd be out behind the school cooking down the amphetamines in a spoon held over a lighter and shaking so badly they kept spilling the liquid. It was disgusting.

    Moonbear is right, kids today (except perhaps inner city) don't see the level of addiction that people my age saw every day.
     
  16. Apr 5, 2007 #15

    radou

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    I wouldn't point that fact out if I were you (i.e. trying drugs). You most definitely don't give a crap what people think about you. That's a virtue, and I admire you (I'm not being ironic).

    Nah, they just weren't addicted enough. There's always a way to "trade".
     
  17. Apr 5, 2007 #16



    How do you know it's not? ;)
     
  18. Apr 5, 2007 #17

    turbo

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    I'm pretty sure that when the cops trumpet the street value of the drugs that they seize, the values are inflated - but not THAT inflated.
     
  19. Apr 5, 2007 #18

    ShawnD

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    Evo, you may not find shaky people like that around schools but they still exists in large numbers in the sketchy parts of town, any town. You probably don't see them too often these days because you know enough to stay away from those parts of town :smile:

    moonbear, I meant psychological in the context of having minor long lasting effects.
    If you drink a cup of coffee, you feel great and you love coffee, but coffee can be forgotten if you don't have any for a while. Most drugs, when taken in small amounts, have that mild effect. Things like heroin or nicotine are different in that you'll still crave it long after you've forgotten about it. Some people claim to have that long lasting craving for alcohol, but the vast majority of people do not feel that craving. Normal people like you and I don't suddenly think "oh god, I need some vodka RIGHT NOW!". Amphetamine has that same small minority of people who crave it relentlessly.
    Case and point would be how amphetamine is very heavily prescribed by doctors, yet very few of the people on these legal drugs become hopelessly addicted.
    A minority of amphetamine users become addicted. A minority of coffee drinkers become addicted. A minority of chocolate eaters become addicted (chocolate contains theobromine). A minority of tea drinkers become addicted (theophylline). One that's shocking is that even cocaine has a low rate of dependency because much of cocaine's world-wide consumption is in the form of coca tea. Contrast that with things that have intense physical addictions. Do you know any casual cigarette smokers? I've known some people who only smoke while drinking alcohol, but most of the smokers I have met in my life smoke regardless of what they are doing. They will leave a comfortable environment and go outside in -40 weather just for the sake of smoking.

    The biggest difference between what you can describe and psychological or physical addiction is the ability to be casual with the use of that particular drug.


    edit: the prices of drugs are often related to how close you are to the supplier. For example, marijuana in BC (Canada) is about $5 per gram. In Alberta it's closer to $10. In Saskatchewan it's closer to $15-20. I think these prices are related to stuff that is grown in BC. For harder things like cocaine, the prices would be expected to drop as you move south because those are from South America. Canada is so far from South America that cocaine simply isn't a problem here because prices are incredibly high; think in the ballpark of $50/gram and up. What really puts the meth epidemic on a new level is that meth is made in Canada and the US using stuff you buy in a store, which of course lowers the price. The lower prices make it much easier to get carried away. Having "too much" cocaine would cost quite a bit of money wheras having too much meth could cost as little as a Big Mac meal at McDonalds. It's scary.

    edit2: I bolded and underlined that one part to emphasize it. The human body is very adaptable if you give it small amounts of things that are somewhat bad for you such as drugs, saturated fat, or being outside (sun burn). If you take too much of anything, you can assume it will be bad for you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2007
  20. Apr 5, 2007 #19
    One of the problems with meth is that it IS dirt cheap, I was at the police station one time and heard a cop telling someone a meth addict will smash the windows in a vehicle just for a dollar in the cupholder because it only takes a few such vehicles before they have enough to buy more. Not only that but it is dirt simple apparently to make yourself (also very dangerous but that doesn't seem to bother them), I believe most of the ingredients you can buy at any grocery store. A friend of mine works at a grocery store and she said the cashiers are all told to report someone buying a large amount of certain products, and some cold medications have had to be switched to over the counter to help combat the problem. Over the summer I worked at a business where most of the employees were potheads, however two were into meth big time and they were two of the most useless individuals I have ever met. That was a job I would never want again.

    It would be nice if that video did work to help prevent people from trying it, but I doubt it will. There are numerous videos like that around that follow a persons life as they die from lung cancer, or videos that take you all the way to the autopsy and the students have to see the effects of cigarette smoke on the body. We has to watch movies like that in junior high and high school and although they could be quit disturbing a good portion of my class still ended up as smokers.
     
  21. Apr 5, 2007 #20
    Absolutely. I think where the confusion lies is that methamphetamine withdrawal is much less uncomfortable than even cannabis withdrawal and is unattended by any significant physiological symtoms like those seen with alcohol, sedatives, or opiates. Basically sleep. But the ensuing depression after a serious run is profound. You have both depleted the amt of dopamine and Noreppy, and seriously downregulated the receptor numbers for same. The only relief is to do more speed or wait up to several months for things to reequilabrate.
     
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