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It’s Sweetening More Than Milk

It’s Sweetening More Than Milk


     I remember growing up sweetening a glass of milk with strawberry flavored powder. How sweet it was. Today, drug pushers are adding the sweetness of this strawberry flavor to a powerful drug called methamphetamine. Drug dealers are using this concoction to target middle-school age children as their new market under the street name, “Strawberry Quick.”

     Street names for methamphetamine include: Speed, Meth, Ice, Crystal, Chalk, Crank, Tweak, Uppers, Black Beauties, Glass, Bikers Coffee, Methlies Quick, Poor Man’s Cocaine, Chicken Feed, Shabu, Crystal Meth, Stove Top, Trash, Go-Fast, Yaba, and Yellow Bam

     Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act monitored by the Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Health and Human Services. It’s classified as a Schedule II drug for the following reasons:

·                  The drug has a potential for abuse

·                  The drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States with severe restrictions

·                  Abuse of the drug may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence

     Actually amphetamine has been around since the 1930s available by prescription in tablet form and was used in the treatment of the sleeping disorder, narcolepsy, and the behavioral syndrome called, minimal brain dysfunction, which today is called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). During World War II, amphetamine was widely used to keep the fighting men going in battle.

     By the 1960s the use of amphetamine spread, as did the abuse of the drug. It was used by truckers to stay awake and complete long hauls, for weight control, for helping athletes to perform better and train longer and for treating mild depression. Intravenous amphetamines, primarily methamphetamine (crystallized methamphetamine hydrochloride) were abused by a subculture known as “speed freaks.” With experience, it became evident that the dangers of abuse of these drugs outweighed most of their therapeutic uses.

     Increased control measures were initiated in 1965 with amendments to the federal food and drug laws to curb the black market in amphetamines. Many pharmaceutical amphetamine products were removed from the market including all injectable formulations, and doctors prescribed those that remained less freely.

     Today, methamphetamine is second only to alcohol and marijuana as the drug used most frequently in many Western and Midwestern states. Seizures of dangerous laboratory materials have increased dramatically—in some states, fivefold. In response, many special task forces and local and Federal initiatives have been developed to target methamphetamine production and use. Legislation and negotiation with earlier source areas for precursor substances have also reduced the availability of the raw materials needed to make the drug.

     As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. A brief, intense sensation, or rush, is reported by those who smoke or inject methamphetamine. Oral ingestion or snorting produces a long-lasting high instead of a rush, which reportedly can continue for as long as half a day. Both the rush and the high are believed to result from the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure.

     Methamphetamine has toxic effects. In animals, a single high dose of the drug has been shown to damage nerve terminals in the dopamine-containing regions of the brain. The large release of dopamine produced by methamphetamine is thought to contribute to the drug’s toxic effects on nerve terminals in the brain. High doses can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels, as well as cause convulsions.

     Long-term methamphetamine abuse results in many damaging effects, including addiction. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease, characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and drug use, which is accompanied by functional and molecular changes in the brain. In addition to being addicted to methamphetamine, chronic methamphetamine abusers exhibit symptoms that can include violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. They also can display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping on the skin, which is called “formication”). The paranoia can result in homicidal as well as suicidal thoughts.

     With chronic use, tolerance for methamphetamine can develop. In an effort to intensify the desired effects, users may take higher doses of the drug, take it more frequently, or change their method of drug intake. In some cases, abusers forego food and sleep while indulging in a form of binging known as a “run,” injecting as much as a gram of the drug every 2 to 3 hours over several days until the user runs out of the drug or is too disorganized to continue. Chronic abuse can lead to psychotic behavior, characterized by intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and out-of-control rages that can be coupled with extremely violent behavior.

     Although there are no physical manifestations of a withdrawal syndrome when methamphetamine use is stopped, there are several symptoms that occur when a chronic user stops taking the drug. These include depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and an intense craving for the drug.

     In scientific studies examining the consequences of long-term methamphetamine exposure in animals, concern has arisen over its toxic effects on the brain. Researchers have reported that as much as 50 percent of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain can be damaged after prolonged exposure to relatively low levels of methamphetamine. Researchers also have found that serotonin-containing nerve cells may be damaged even more extensively. Whether this toxicity is related to the psychosis seen in some long-term methamphetamine abusers is still an open question

     To meet the ever-increasing black market demand for amphetamines, clandestine laboratory production has mushroomed. Today, most amphetamine distributed to the black market are produced in these clandestine laboratories. Meth labs are sprouting up all over the United States.

     Generally, amphetamines are taken orally. When taken orally, the drug has an extremely bitter taste so the addition of the strawberry or other flavors cuts the bitterness. It can be seen that the sweetness added to methamphetamine can entice a young person to try it. Therefore, it is important that parents, grandparents, teachers and counselors alert young children about the dangers of using this highly addictive and dangerous drug.

     There are 10 important facts about Crystal Meth that you should be aware of:

1.       Crystal Meth is always made in bootleg labs and because of this, potency, effects and dangers of the drug change every time you use it. There is no standard dose or formual for Crystal Meth; it is an underground black market drug.

2.       Crystal Meth is a central nervous system stimulant and is very, very addictive. Nearly half of first time Crystal Meth users and more than 3/4 of second time users report addiction like cravings.

3.       Some more common street names for Crystal Meth are: meth, jib, tine, crystal, rock, and ice.

4.       Crystal Meth labs are very volatile; highly explosive gases make these labs a great danger to communities they infiltrate.

5.       Crystal Meth is as popular with girls as it is with boys making it one of the few gender-neutral drugs. Girls are drawn to meth because one of the side effects of using is weight loss, usually extreme weight loss.

6.       Although Crystal Meth is known to cause extreme weight loss the effects are not permanent and many regular meth users experience adaptation where the weight loss no longer occurs as the body becomes used to the effects of the Crystal Meth. When this happens, habitual users may even start to gain weight.

7.       Crystal Meth is a cheap street drug making it dangerously appealing to teens but because of its black market nature you are never getting the same thing twice. The differences in recipes used by under ground labs and the variety of acceptable mixing agents make it impossible for you to ensure that you will experience the same type of high each time you use.

8.       Because of the many different recipes used for making Crystal Meth you can never know how the drug will affect you from use to use. While one time you may experience no adverse side effects, the next time it may kill you. There is no standardized way of making crystal meth.

9.       Crystal Meth is one of the most difficult drug habits to beat.

10.    Crystal Meth highs last ten to last 4-8 hours with users cycling for days. Crystal Meth users often stay awake for days, eating very little and staying in a heightened state of arousal that is very stressful for the body and mind. 

     It is important that if you suspect someone in your neighborhood operating a Meth Lab or selling drugs, that you call your local police. 

A retired police officer now working as a certified substance abuse counselor with adolescents and an Adjunct Instructor in South University’s Criminal Justice Program. A published author of two books, several short stories and numerous articles appearing in law enforcement magazines and local newspapers.

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