Crystal Methamphetamine was invented in 1887. During WW-II it was widely used by both sides, The Allies and The Axis . Biker gangs in America manufactured and distributed water soluble (injectable) meth throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. Mexican cartels opened up large manufacturing operations in Mexico and the U. S. and the abuse spread. Most people familiar with the drug knows it has many adverse effects on the user, from keeping the user awake for up to several days at a time, to delusions and paranoia. As well there are physical effects such as extreme dehydration, skin rashes, and extreme loss of weight.
It is a very dangerous and illegal drug. In addition, the most severe effect of its use in large doses, or with extended use, is psychosis. Reports of extreme psychotic behavior have come in from all over the United States and around the world. Methamphetamine psychosis is a serious side effect of methamphetamine use and may seriously affect the user (Gard, 2004). Crystal methamphetamine is a powerful drug which can cause the user to feel euphoria, intense feelings of body tingle, and an overall feeling incomparable to any other illicit drug.
The user, looking for the ultimate high, will generally inject the drug into the blood stream via a hypodermic syringe. In this way the user can induce a greater quantity of the drug into the body with a single, massive dose of up to a half gram, or roughly 100cc liquid meth in the syringe (Gard, 2004). Many who abuse the drug inject this much in a single dose in order to get as high as possible. This massive dosage effects the signal processes in the brain. Neurons transmit electrical signals in the brain during normal activity (Mastin, 2010).
After time, injecting methamphetamine in large doses several times per month for several years will cause a breakdown in the communicating structure of the brain. This breakdown may cause the user to suffer psychotic episodes. A psychotic episode, or psychosis, is a loss of contact with reality. The National Alliance of Mental Illness, in an article entitled, “What is Psychosis,” defines psychosis as “The experience of loss of contact with reality, and is not part of the person’s cultural group belief system or experience. ” Psychosis can generally involve hallucinations and/or delusions.
Delusions are fixed false beliefs. They can involve paranoia (“Help, someone is after me”) or possible mistaken identity (“You’re not John”) while the sufferer is talking to John. These beliefs, to the psychotic sufferer, are real. They cannot be changed with the introduction of new information or ideas. Even though there is no one actually chasing the sufferer, the sufferer will still believe it to be true (NAMI, 2014). The other issues a psychotic sufferer may experience are hallucinations. With hallucinations, the sufferer can experience a figment of the imagination. Shadows appearing in the corners of the eyes.
These shadows, may be perceived as someone hiding in a doorway or following the sufferer. Hallucinations can be auditory or visual. Though very rare, occasionally olfactory hallucinations can be experienced (NAMI, 2014). The vocal hallucinations can seem very, very real to the psychotic sufferer. Some sufferers have reported having entire conversations with these voices. Others have done what the voices have told them to do (Gard, 2004). These can be extremely dangerous hallucinations. They can cause the psychotic person to inflict harm to themselves or others, up to and including murder and suicide.
Visual hallucinations have caused sufferers to cut themselves, peel their skin off, destroy property, and harm innocent people. Methamphetamine’s main effect is to keep the user awake for several days at a time. That is the reason for its invention. Governments gave the drug to soldiers so they could remain awake and alert, able to fight longer. Some users have reported being awake for as much as 15-18 days on an extended high. Sleep deprivation along with the high, and the rush of larger doses, can cause the user to experience a psychotic episode.
During psychotic episodes, the user will begin to hallucinate, see shadows and perceive movement out of the corners of the eyes and hear small noises which draw the attention of the user and can induce paranoia. Psychotic patients undergoing treatment in institutions may experience the same psychotic paranoia if they are taken off anti-psychotic medications (Grant, 2012).
Psychotic episodes can last many hours and days depending on the amount of methamphetamine which is used, the condition of the user, (how many years have they been taking meth), and the environment in which the user is in when they use methamphetamine (Gard, 2004). Episodes can often turn violent. Many users hear voices.
There have been thousands of reported cases of hearing voices from dead relatives, girlfriends, and even God. The user will actually believe that the voices are real. Police have reported those in a methamphetamine-induced psychosis have attempted to harm themselves and others. They have possessed sticks, bats, balled fists, knives, and even guns. They have used these weapons against anyone they thought may be against them, with the thought that, “…everyone is out to get me. ” Methamphetamine psychosis has caused users to scale buildings, climb on car roofs, hide in sewers, and run naked down the street screaming.
These are not exaggerations. These are facts. Methamphetamine psychosis can make the user see snakes, monsters, and bugs. Users have peeled off sections of their own skin trying to get the bugs off. In studies in an urban hospital, Dr. Tania Lecomte, PhD conducted research on 295 patients who were all methamphetamine users. She found that 29. 8% of those in the study had persistent and repeated psychotic episodes and it was determined that these patients should have been offered mental health treatment early on rather than have this discovered during a drug-induced psychotic episode (Psychiatry Weekly, 2014).
When dealing with methamphetamine users undergoing a psychotic episode, some police departments have policies in place which require them to admit the user to a mental health facility for a 72-hour observation period. The treatment facility is responsible for keeping the patient safe and monitor their behavior. As well, the facility is responsible for offering the user information on programs which can help the user to get off the drug. These programs have a financial cost. The use of these facilities comes with a cost to the taxpayer as this type of use is covered by taxpayer dollars.
Along with police and emergency personnel, the courts and jails, the price to the taxpayer can be significant During their stay in the facility the patient may be given medical treatment such as re-hydration by I. V. in order to protect vital organs. These additional medical services cost money (Gard, 2004). Recovery and rehabilitation from methamphetamine addiction can be a long and difficult process. There are many different rehabilitation and treatment facilities where a user can get help for his or her addiction. There are12-step programs, and programs which include mental health treatment.
A patient can choose a program that best fits their recovery. Unfortunately, over half of all patients who enter treatment relapse (Gard, 2004). While death from overdose can happen, it is rare with methamphetamine. More often than not, the meth user experiences psychotic episodes – some mild, some severe. Addiction has been called a disease by many and is now classified as such by The American Society of Addiction Medicine, who defines it: “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.
Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. ” Addiction is why the methamphetamine user continues to use the drug in greater quantities even though the user knows he or she may experience a psychotic episode. Since its invention, methamphetamine has destroyed many, many lives. This drug wreaks havoc on the bodies and minds of all its users. Methamphetamine is easy to make.
It is easy to use by smoking, snorting, or injecting. Addiction to the drug is vice-like and very hard to overcome. Once the drug is taken, the result is immediate and intense. Some users experience paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and psychosis as early as the first use. Long term users have experienced extreme psychotic episodes and have been hospitalized and even institutionalized.
Some users seek recovery and some do recover. Some never recover. It is believed that legislators should take a hard look the methamphetamine epidemic and try to find viable solutions to help users get off the drug and into programs where they can receive the help they need for successful recovery. References Grant, K. , LeVan, T. , Wells, S. , Li, M. , Stoltenberg, S. , Gendelman, H. , & …
Bevins, R. (2012) Methamphetamine-associated psychosis. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology: The Official Journal of The Society On Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 7(1), 113-139. Doi: 10. 1007/s11481-011-9288-1 Retrieved from University of Phoenix Student Library Gard, C. (2004, 01). METHAMPHETAMINE: Speeding toward psychosis.
Current Health 2, 30, 25-27. Retrieved from University of Phoenix Student Library Psychiatry Weekly, Volume 9, Issue 2, January 20, 2014 http://www. psychweekly. com/aspx/article/articledetail. aspx? articleid=1646 Mastin, L. , (2010) The Human Memory, http://www. human-memory. net/ Psychosis, Berger, Fred K. , M. D. , Medline Plus, 2014 http://www. nlm. nih. gov National Alliance of Mental Illness, What is Psychosis? 2009-2014, no author noted http://www. nami. org/Template. cfm? Section=First_Episode.