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Methamphetamine in Our Community: Addiction – Part Two

meth2 300MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (7/29/13) – The following is the second in a series of articles submitted to SurfKY News by Muhlenberg County Sheriff Curtis McGehee, in an attempt to better educate local citizens on the dangers of meth from all perspectives. Remember, the voice of the citizen is the first line of defense in drug-related crimes.
 
Very often, a parent or someone that has a family member or friend that is struggling with methamphetamine addiction will say, “I know they could quit using meth, if they wanted to bad enough.”
 
While that may sound logical, it may not necessarily be true. Meth addiction is believed to be the most powerful of all drug addictions. This does not mean that other drugs are not powerfully addictive, certainly many of them are. However, the addiction rate of methamphetamine seems to be the most alarming of all. Dr. Mary Holley, founder of Mothers against Methamphetamine, explains that the addiction rate to cocaine is 75-80% whereas meth’s addiction rate is 95-98%.
 
A question that I am often asked is, how does meth take control of the user’s life so quickly?
 
Most addicts seem to realize, at least to some extent, that their body is deteriorating during use. They also have some sense of how their family and friends are being affected. In addition to personal and family problems, there is the risk of arrest and incarceration. One expert reports that within five years, 90% of meth users are in jail, brain damaged, or dead. So, if meth is such a risky drug, why doesn’t the user simply stop? The following may help readers to understand why meth addiction is so gripping.
 
The method of meth use varies. It may be snorted, injected, smoked, or ingested orally. It seems that the most common method of use in this area, is smoking, followed by intravenous use. Regardless of how meth is used it eventually reaches the blood stream, and will then be circulated throughout the brain.
 
When using meth for the first time, the user most often experiences a euphoric sensation. The heart beats faster, blood pressure rises and the central nervous system is greatly stimulated. Those that have chosen to abuse a number of different drugs, that later switch to meth, claim, that no other drug compares to meth in intensity. The high is also long lasting, sometimes continuing for several hours. Again, users will most likely be addicted after the very first use. I talked to a man that was arrested for trafficking in methamphetamine. He explained that when someone is given meth the first time, they are usually given the purest form available. This, of course, is so that the user will be most likely addicted upon initial use.
 
As methamphetamine is circulating throughout the brain many chemicals are being affected. One that is commonly affected is dopamine; it is a neurotransmitter that is sometimes known as a pleasure chemical, or the pleasure neurotransmitter. Dopamine is released in large quantities when meth is being used. This causes the user to experience heightened degrees of pleasure. It is commonly reported by meth users that their first high was their best high. Often, the user will try to use meth in higher quantities, or use it more often to maintain that euphoric state.
 
Perhaps what follows is even more significant, because after an extended period of use, the dopamine is diminished. Medical experts believe that it will take months for the dopamine to be replenished, and in some cases it may take years. During this recovery time, the individual often becomes severely depressed, and at times suicidal, as they feel overwhelmed by a feeling of hopelessness. However there is one way the addict can overcome the feeling of despair; it is by using more methamphetamine. This works, for a period of time, but eventually even meth use may not bring the addict the desired pleasure that they seek. At this point it is not unusual for meth users to go on binges. There is no time during a meth user’s life that they are not in great danger, but those on binges may be at the highest risk of death.
 
If you or someone you care for is using meth it is important to seek help. Many experts feel that long term rehab/treatment is crucial to recovery. For additional information about overcoming meth addiction, please speak with a counselor, physician or contact Pennyroyal Mental Health at 270-338-5211.
 
To report meth or other drug related activities please contact local law enforcement at 338-2000. To report a tip anonymously you may call 1-888-959-8477 or go to www.muhlenbergcountysheriff.com.
 
SurfKY News
Information provided by Sheriff Curtis McGehee

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