Term Paper: Crystal Meth

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Meth

There is such a wide variety of disheartening stories regarding individuals from every walk of life concerning their addictions to 'crystal meth' that methamphetamine is now considered a household word.

They come in all shapes and sizes and they're from all walks of life. Teen crystal-meth users are everywhere, looking for their next hit of the dangerous and deadly "Drug Next Door." (Booth 2006)

The fact that the drug is becoming prevalent in such obscure places as the rural midwest and south regions of the country causes some major headaches for law-enforcement officials trying to combat its effects on the community.

One of the reasons for such prevalence is the low cost and long-lasting effects of the drug, as well as its simplicity in manufacturing. One addict described the drug's initial effect as; "less than half an hour after I smoke the dope, it kicked in. I had more energy than ever before. My life was suddenly perfect, and I was perfect. I didn't want it to end." (Booth 2006)

With such a powerful allure, the drug has swiftly made it in to all cultures and climes. The drug has special appeal to 'new moms', teens and is one of the accepted drugs of choice in the gay/lesbian community as well. Much of the time (for the addict) the drug's allure seems more beneficial than its devastating long-term effects, which can include; brain damage, stroke and psychotic symptoms. The drug also causes a lowering of inhibitions, more energy and a long-lasting feeling of strength, power and energy.

The lowering of inhibition is especially harmful in the gay community, since it seems to lead to more men accepting much more risky sexual behavior, which can be a leading cause of HIV and STD's.

Urban75, a popular e-zine for youth and young adults describes crystal meth in the following manner; the drug can either be snorted or injected, or in its crystal form 'ice' smoked in a pipe, and brings on a feeling of exhilaration and a sharpening of focus. Smoking ice results in an instantaneous dose of almost pure drug to the brain, giving a huge rush followed by a feeling of euphoria for anything from 2-16 hours." (Urban75 2004)

Urban75 is a good example of those individuals who are on the fringe of society that are interested in publishing information regarding the acceptability and use of drugs by those who are most susceptible to the drug's harmful affects. The article continued on by stating; "For some this (feeling of euphoria) could result in obsessive cleaning or tidying, but for many the biggest bonus is the sense of sexual liberation which can result in mad, abandoned sex for hours - sometimes days - on end." (Urban75 2004)

The mad, abandoned sex is the specific allure in the gay/lesbian community, and it, in turn, leads to a heightened risk of contracting other diseases, besides the assumed risk of drug abuse or addiction.

The drug is also becoming prevalent due to the physical effects it can have on an individual's body. "Methamphetamine is a stimulant which increases the brain's production of the chemicals that act as neurotransmitters." (Times 2006-page 11)

Many medical experts believe that the almost immediate, and very heavy psychological dependency displayed by those who sample the drug is due to the affect the drug has on those transmitters, and that the affect can be reversed by allowing the brain a long enough time to repair itself. Some of these same medical experts are coordinating with local police authorities in developing programs to inform meth addicts of the medical facts.

After researching how meth destroys the brain - and realizing the damage is partly reversible - Holley launched a crusade to bring that message to addicts in her county (pop. 87,000) where 173 illegal meth labs were busted last year." (Schindehette 2005)

Mary Holley's brother, Jim, had committed suicide after becoming addicted to crystal meth and fighting the addiction for over 18 months.

If I had known then what I know now, she says, Jim might still be alive." (Schindehette 2005) Mary is just one of the many interested, and involved individuals working to spread the message of how insidious the drug really is. Her audience is well aware of that fact, and many appreciate her efforts.

Mary is attempting a 'different' approach than what has been tried by other medical and law enforcement associations. Rather than trying 'tough love', Mary founded Mothers Against Methamphetamine, which is a Christian recovery program.

In speaking about her brother, Mary says; "The family tried tough love - I thought he was just a drug addict and a couple of nights in jail would straighten him out....but with no success: When they closed the lid on his casket, that's when it hit me: He's not coming back." (Schindehette 2005)

Law enforcement agencies appreciate the assistance that individuals such as Mary can, and do provide, since many of these same agencies are constrained by financial and other restraints in their fight against the onslaught of this drug. The production of this drug is a relatively simple and inexpensive process, and the simplicity has led to an increasing number of meth labs popping up around the country, especially in the secluded, rural areas of the south and midwest.

These are precisely the areas that are the most difficult to monitor, which is another reason why law enforcement agencies have to, and are, coming up with a variety of new programs to combat the spread of the drug. Many of the programs have to do with informing the public, with particular emphasis on those who are most susceptible to trying and becoming addicted to crystal meth, of the dangers and pitfalls of the drug.

On November 3 the Stop AIDS Project reported a dramatic decline in meth use among San Francisco's gay and bisexual men. "By opening a community dialogue and putting forth honest campaigns, the norm of crystal use that peaked two years ago is changing," said gay San Francisco city supervisor Bevan Dufty.

We've tried to come forward in an open and honest way to relate the stories of people who've been in the grip of meth addiction. I would say these results are an incentive to do more." (Gaining 2005-page 24)

According to Bevan the information and dissemination of that information was one of the primary reasons why a dramatic decline took place. Other agencies and individuals agree with Bevan, and there are a number of programs similar to the program that Bevan uses that are being implemented across the nation targeting a wide variety of potential drug users with information.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found in 2004 that about 20% high school seniors had used marijuana in the preceding month. This was down from nearly 34% in 1980, but up from 14% in 1990. The long-term decline probably owes something to high-schoolers knowing more about the potential harmful effects of the drug." (Halperin 2006-page 1)

Halperin suggests that providing information to those who might be susceptible is working but that it is not enough to stem the tide. He states that the border patrols that are searching and monitoring the country's borders are also part of the overall picture.

Sophisticated border surveillance techniques employed by the Homeland Security Dept.'s Customs and Border Protection Division may have affected the decline." (Halperin 2006-page 1)

Homeland Security has had a huge impact on the way the war against drugs, such as crystal meth, is waged by law enforcement officials, including but not limited to the way the country's borders are patrolled.

The problem, however, is not that the illegal production of the drug is isolated among certain communities, in certain areas, or even to the United States. The problem is world-wide and law enforcement officials, as well as public officials are aware of the nature and potentially devastating effects to the communities that such production and distribution entails.

Canada's small towns long ago graduated to big city problems. Drugs permeate every corner of our society, says Chief Edgar MacLeod of the Cape Breton Regional Police Service. The simple fact is that the impact of drugs on quality of life, on families, communities and neighbours, is the same regardless of where it happens." (Gatehouse 2005-page 29)

Whether the drugs are being produced in rural Canada, rural America or downtown New York City, the problems associated with such production are quite numerous.That the drug labs have to be dismantled by individuals wearing hazardous materials suits is a sure sign that the production of the drug can lead to very dangerous situations.

Those possibilities would include, but not be limited to; fire, explosions (from the mixing of lethal chemicals, and even death. The chemical ingredients necessary to concoct crystal meth are often highly volatile and dangerous.

People who sell drugs can be tech-savvy. Law enforcement agencies have found hyper-sophisticated setups of crude laboratories and hydroponic pot greenhouses, which are used to synthesize crystal meth out of an… [END OF PREVIEW]

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