Methamphetamine usage is on the rise in 2014, and many believe the media is partially responsible. The release of several movies and television shows are said to be feeding in to the craze that is a drug epidemic in the United States. Breaking Bad, 2013’s most watched television show based in Albuquerque, NM, is this year’s leading blame. The show follows the life of a chemistry teacher who is struggling to support his family financially and turns to dealing meth to make ends meet. A blue meth is used in the show and is now really being sold on the streets in Albuquerque. Apparently the drug dealers found Breaking Bad as a way to advertise their product. It was the number 1 show in the nation, after all. A fifty-three year old man was even arrested on charges of meth possession with the intent to sell and had an extensive history of firearm offenses and violence. His name was Walter White. Is the media creating more harm with popular shows?
Methamphetamine is one of the most harmful drugs available. As it is a psychoactive substance, it reacts with the chemicals in the brain, wearing on the user’s body and mind. Over time it can cause a drastic physical change, deteriorating health, and mental shifts such as mood swings and depression. Meth addicts often become isolated and engage in criminal behaviors. Many spend time in jail or prison.
Methamphetamine, like all psychoactive drugs, causes the brain to release dopamine into the body. Dopamine is a substance produced naturally and is directly involved in feelings like motivation, pleasure, and motor function. The high amounts of dopamine released by meth use make the user feel a euphoria and want more when the drug wears off. Meth also causes the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature to increase, which can lead to further complications. There are many ways meth is taken into the body. The most popular is smoking, injecting, and snorting, mostly depending on how soon the user wants to feel the euphoria.
As it is in the stimulant class, meth has been legalized for medical treatments. Prescriptions have been written to treat diagnoses like Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Methamphetamines accounted for 103,000 trips to the emergency room in 2011, making it the fourth most used illicit drug of that year. The effects of the drug do not last long, so users often binge to keep up the euphoria. As they take more of the drug, their bodies build up a tolerance, making the user increase the amount consumed to reach the desired high. This increases the dangers of meth. Some effects include:
- Increased attention and decreased fatigue
- Increased activity and wakefulness
- Decreased appetite
- Euphoria and rush
- Increased respiration
Meth has various long-term effects, besides addiction, that can happen with as little as one use. Symptoms observed with chronic meth users include significant anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood swings, and violence. Delusions and paranoia are also common amongst meth users. It is not uncommon to see meth users scratching their arms, believing that there are insects crawling beneath their skin. The mental health issues that meth causes can last for years after the user quits meth. The brain damage caused by meth continues long after the user stops meth. Studies have shown that chronic meth users show significant damage in areas of the brain responsible for emotion, motor function, memory and verbal learning.
Seeking Help for Meth Abuses
Meth users neglect their help and will make decisions that are not rational. As they become addicted, their lives become centered on getting their next fix. If you know someone who might be using meth, contact a drug rehab facility. Many times, family members and close friends are the push users need to get well.