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The Crystal Meth Epidemic

 

The Crystal Meth Epidemic in the U.S.In 2009, crystal meth re-surged as a major problem for the U.S.. Homegrown meth labs—and their disastrous consequences—multiplied across the nation as Mexican cartels got their stronghold in the Southwest. Crystal meth users, while varying in age and demographics, tend to be young and engage in high risk—even criminal—behavior, which is associated with this drug.

Crystal meth causes serious health complications and is a public health concern, from the erratic behaviors seen while under the influence of methamphetamine to the otherwise indistinguishable houses that can easily go up in flames.

While the crystal meth epidemic affects people from all walks of life, there are certain demographics that studies indicate are more heavily involved in abusing this drug than others. Crystal meth abuse is seen in slightly higher numbers in rural areas like the Redlands, CA and Hawaii than it is in urban areas – probably due to easy space to cook meth, compared to the preference for crack in urban areas.

Another group that reports using more methamphetamine than the general population is the gay male population. Despite the differences, there are certain similarities amongst who commonly uses methamphetamine. Unfortunately, youth 18-25 are the most common meth users, followed by those aged 12-17.

The working class also makes up the majority of the economic background of those who use methamphetamine. Accounting for these similarities is probably the fact that methamphetamine is relatively cheap and longer lasting than other comparable drugs. With all of the things that could go wrong with even short term meth use, why do people even start to use meth?

Crystal meth, despite the possibility of tooth decay, STDs, and other horrors, holds appeal for some in its ability to increase energy. For others, its lure is allowing the user to fit in with a group. Crystal meth increases energy—similarly to drugs like cocaine—but is cheaper and longer-lasting. Some men reported using it in order to be able to perform longer sexually. Females often report starting meth for its appetite-suppressing properties, as well as combating the fatigue that comes with severe dieting.

Regardless of the reason why they start, many of these people find themselves with sores on their skin, with rotten teeth, and in the hospital after they’ve suffered from a stroke or drug-induced heart attack. Even in a survey taken among other drug users, methamphetamine users had more sexual partners, were less likely to use protection, and were more likely to engage in prostitution – all which are high risk behaviors for HIV and other STDs. As if the personal dangers of crystal meth weren’t terrible enough, the public health concerns are just as imminent.

It’s easy to want to compartmentalize this as a personal problem, but when meth labs are disguised as homes and otherwise innocent people are purchasing ingredients to help make methamphetamine, it becomes an issue of public health. Labs are often set up in homes where, oftentimes, batches are made in a method called the “shake and bake”, which involves their ingredients, and a two liter soda bottle. The ingredients are volatile, and meth labs are known for blowing up, injuring the people in and around them.  Additionally, once a lab is vacated, the toxins that remain can be deadly for those who unwittingly occupy the residence used to house the lab.

The act of “smurfing”—using other people’s IDs—or asking others to buy large quantities of pseudoephedrine to help produce meth are common practices that have kept those who actually do most of the cooking out of trouble. Until the meth epidemic is truly addressed as an issue of public concern, people will not truly start listening to the dangers that could affect them-even if no one they know touches the drug.

Crystal meth is a deadly drug that destroys lives. It is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States, and the behaviors that come along with it—selling drugs, prostitution, and violence—are climbing as well. Those who are suffering from addiction to crystal meth, whether they’re the working class youth or the old time biker, need help, and the general public needs more awareness about the facts of crystal meth in their communities.

Meth affects the entire nation when it affects any community the way it is affecting communities all over America, and it’s time to turn that trend around.

Works Cited

Methamphetamine Use and Risk for HIV/AIDS. 3 May 2007. 13 February 2013 <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/print/meth.htm>.

NIDA Study Suggests Crystal Methamphetamine Use in Young Adults Higher than Previously Reported. 15 June 2007. 8 February 2013 <http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jun2007/nida-15.htm>.

The Current Status of the Methamphetamine Epidemic. 2011. 8 February 2013 <http://carnevaleassociates.com/meth_2011>.

 

 

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Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Substance Abuse · Tags: Addiction, Crystal Meth, Drug Abuse, drug Epidemic, epidemic, meth labs, methamphetamine, pseudoephedrine, shake and bake, smurfing, substance abuse

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