M E T H A M P H E T A M I N E
Methamphetamine was discovered in Japan in 1919. The crystalline powder was soluble in water, making it a perfect candidate for injection. In the late 30s, it found use for narcolepsy and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It is still legally produced in the U.S., sold under the trade name Desoxyn (Abbott. PDR 2001) with indications for ADHD and for short-term therapy in exogenous obesity.
During World War II, amphetamines were widely used as stimulants to keep the fighting men going (during the Viet Nam war, American soldiers used more amphetamines than the rest of the world did during WWII). And after World War II, when military surplus became available to the public, methamphetamine abuse became epidemic.
In the United States in the 1950s, legally manufactured tablets of both dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) and methamphetamine (Methedrine) became readily available and were used non medically by college students, truck drivers, and athletes. As use of amphetamines spread, so did their abuse. Amphetamines became a cure-all for such things as weight control to treating mild depression.
In the 1960s, the route and degree of abuse changed dramatically with the increased availability of injectable methamphetamine. The 1970 Controlled Substances Act severely restricted the legal production of injectable methamphetamine, causing its use to decrease greatly. It is at present a Schedule II stimulant finding limited use for narcolepsy, attention-deficit disorder, and for a limited time, as an appetite suppressant for obesity.
In the 1980s, the smokable form of methamphetamine, "ice," became available. Like crack cocaine, it is smoked in glass pipes, emitting no odor, with effects lasting for 12 hours or more.
In the mid-80s, methamphetamine was introduced into the fringe circle of use in the Philippines. In less than two decades, it has broken out of the urban subcultures and gained access access into the rural communities with devastating impact.
In the US, its use has undergone a resurgence, a 2004 study reporting that it has already surpassed cocaine use.
methamphetamine and Ecstasy are grouped as ATS, amphetamine-type
stimulants. Synthetic drugs, production estimates are based on
seizures, and of these, 80% were amphetamine and methamphetamine.
Of the 12,000 clandestine ATS labs dismantled in 2002, most were
Usually, a "fix" is used every 3 hours.
A mandatory "surprise" testing in one precinct found 69% positive for drug use.
The preferred manner of use is smoking, compared to snorting, injecting, or oral ingestion i.e., dissolved in a drink. There are geographic variations in usage: In Hawaii, 96% of users smoke it; in San Francisco 57% of users prefer injection, 27% snort, 11% smoke.
It is easily produced in make-shift laboratories and the by-products are toxic and hazardous.
The National Drug Law Enforcement and Prevention Center gives a conservative estimate of at least 250,000 drug abusers, possibly over half a million. Another conservative estimate puts the number of addicts at one million.
A survey of youths aged 15-30 conducted by the SWS (Social Weather Stations) in 1996 which included youth participation in illegal activities showed a 7% with drug use and 6% with drug pushing. With shabu as the drug of choice among 90% of users, the mathematics is gut-wrenching.
Methamphetamine is inexpensive and easy to make, Its illicit manufacture can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but is produced most commonly using the ephedrine/pseudoephedrine reduction method. Large-scale production of methamphetamine using this method is dependent on ready access to bulk quantities of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
Street meth is never pure, cut with a miscellany of substances, including talc or heroin.
How meth works
The stimulant effects from methamphetamine can last for hours, instead of the minutes from 'crack' cocaine. Often, the meth user stays awake for days. After injecting or smoking, the immediate rush or high is called a "swap,' short-lived, minutes long. Snorting (within 3 to 5 minutes) and ingestion (within 15-20 minutes) causes a euphoria, a 'high' rather than an intense 'rush" within 15-20 minutes. As the high wears off, the user enters a stage called "tweaking" where he or she becomes prone to violence, delusions and paranoia. Some try to buffer through this stage by the use of cocaine or heroin. Like heroin and cocaine, methamphetamine can be snorted, smoked or injected. Tweaking may be mistaken as a cocky and noisy drunkenness.
The crash happens after the tweaking. To the binge-abuser, with the depletion of body epinephrine, the body "crashes" into a sleep, seemingly, a "lifeless" state that may last 1-3 days, during which time the abuse poses no threat to anyone. After the crash, in-between binge, the abuser is in a normal stage.
Although there are no acute physical withdrawal syndrome on discontinuation of chronic use, a patient may experience a subtle creeping in of fatigue, lethargy, anxiety, paranoia, aggression, or an intense craving for the drug and even a suicidal state. Re-use or re-indulgence of methamphetamine will break this train of symptomatology. It is believed that prolonged exposure can cause damage to the dopamine-producing brain cells, with more profound damage on serotonin-containing cells and concerns as to whether this can contribute to the psychosis seen in long-term users.
Meth rehab success rate is low; 93 percent in traditional treatment programs return to abuse.
Behavior and AIDS Concerns
was when the illicit drug use in the Philippines was mainly an
indulgence of the fringe literati, the burgis, the artists and
entertainment circle, far removed from the mesa and rural culture
with its isolated social pockets of marijuana users. None of
the hard drugs and the intravenous drug users; none of varied
countercultural movements that was requisite or fuel to the growth
of the drug culture. It seemed almost possible that while the
drug problem raged in most developed countries, the Philippines
would be saved from the scourge of illicit drugs. But, alas, slowly and surely, the illicit drug market has successfully gained
inroads into subcultures of users, into collegiate life, and
deep into the bowels of Philippine rural life, burgeoning into
a raging epidemic of drug addiction.
Today, "Shabu" poses a problem as serious, as frightening, as formidable, as any present day issue confronting the Filipino society. How can a country and a system mired in corruption fare against the commerce of drug trade so empowered by its bottomless coffers and consequent political clout? Many powerful nations have succumbed; the fanfares of their drug wars drug muffled, their policies inevitably compromised, shifting from prevention into containment.
Sadly, I think the Filipino society confronts an impossible task. The problem is passed prevention. Is containment still possible? Godofredo Stuart
|Graphic / Sabog! © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange|
|IMAGE SOURCE: File:Methamphetamine-3d-CPK.png / W:Methamphetamine/ Sbrools / 5.8.07 / GNU Free Documentation License / Wikipedia|
|OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Ice Methamphetamine Pipe / UN ITED STATES / DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION / DEA|
|OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Methamphetamine Chunks / IOWA Department of Public Safety / Division of Narcotics Enforcement/ IOWA DPS|
Sources and Suggested Readings
NIDA Research Report - Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction NIH Publication No. / 98-4210 Printed April, 1998
Meth abuse at work continues to grow / USA Today. July 5, 2005
Methamphetamine Abuse Sweeping America / Laura Brasseur. Internal Medicine World Report. Vol 20 No 7. July 2005