The scourge of crystal meth, with its exploding labs and ruinous effect on teeth and skin, has been all but forgotten amid national concern over the opioid crisis. Meth has returned with a vengeance. In Oregon, meth-related deaths vastly outnumber those from heroin.
Mexican drug cartels stepped in and have inundated the market with so much pure, low-cost meth that dealers have more of it than they know what to do with. Under pressure from traffickers to unload large quantities, dealers are even offering meth to customers on credit.
Heroin is a depressant. It shuts you down and you’re not capable of doing a whole lot. In contrast, meth is a stimulant: addicts have lowered inhibitions and are awake 24/7, running around at night, so night burglaries abound. Eighty or 90 percent of heroin users are also using meth to temper the effects.
Like opioids, meth is highly addictive and difficult to quit. Meth has been overshadowed by opiates. Unfortunately, there are fewer tools to combat meth than to combat opioids: There is nothing like Naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses, or methadone, which can stem opioid cravings.
Meth or methamphetamine use is plausibly responsible for as many if not more drug-related crimes, episodes of violence, and trips to the emergency room than any other substance (discounting all of our daily opiate overdoses)
Meth first overloads and then eventually disables the dopamine system in the brain, which is not good. Meth exacerbates any pre-existing psychosis or induces psychosis altogether. Frequent users often report they hear voices, see “shadow figures,” experience severe paranoia, and endorse full-blown psychotic delusions. When you couple these sorts of psychotic symptoms with frequently hyper-aggressive and/or hyper-sexual behavior while intoxicated, you have a real public health problem. Addicts become semi-aware fragments of themselves, arousing and satisfying their darker impulses.
Meth kills by overloading blood vessels, eventually resulting in aneurysms, heart failure and strokes. As a result, long time older users are likeliest to die—in San Francisco, the average age of those who die of a meth overdose is 49.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers estimates the total social cost of the opioid crisis to the country in 2015 was as high as $504 billion, or 2.8% of GDP. Continue reading THE METH SCOURGE