Meth Is Terrible For Your Looks

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Methamphetamine (meth) is no longer "poor man's cocaine," a high school kid's Friday party rush or recreational activity for rural residents. Meth has entered Main Street America and is rapidly making inroads into urban and rural areas alike, reaching across all social classes and races.

According to federal government estimates, more than 12 million people have tried meth and 1.5 million use it regularly. Meth is a far bigger problem than cocaine, marijuana and heroine combined. Local, state and federal government should be treating meth as their number one target for rehabilitation and not make it just a law and order problem.

If you are an occasional user or a parent, relative or friend of someone who is at risk, here are a few talking points that you may modify and adapt according to your style and the person with whom you might want to communicate regarding meth.

Do you take pride in your appearance? If yes, stay away from methamphetamine; it can disfigure you to the extent that you wouldn't enjoy looking at yourself in the mirror.

If you, however, are embarrassed by something about your appearance, size or height, move even further away from meth because it can get ugly after a while! Crooked and corrosive teeth, sores and scars with compulsive scratching, liver damage, extreme weight loss and even stroke are some of the risks of long-term usage. If you are embarrassed by your appearance now, think of self-embarrassment in those circumstances.

Let's go beyond the appearance and look into the brain. The drug releases a burst of dopamine, (the pleasure hormone) from which you get a high that can last for hours. Think about the down side of this ecstasy. When the dopamine introduced in your system by the drug goes down, you will feel drained, depressed and perhaps desperate for another high.

During that high, you experience ecstasy and bundles of energy. You feel fearless and hyper alert like the mind has really awakened after all these years and you say, "Wow, this is the miracle drug! Now I know which highway goes to paradise!"

That is the moment to shake out of the dream and remember two things: 1) This is a progressive disease and 2) There are long-term consequences.

If you are an executor of what is referred to in the addiction science as "stinking thinking," you might be saying to yourself, "There ain't gonna be any long-term consequences because I don't plan to use it except once in a while." If that's what you are saying to yourself, go to reminder # 1, "This is a progressive disease."

Many scenarios can be drawn of the disease's progression. Here is one scenario: By accident you stumble upon meth or a friend introduces it to you. Typically, one snorts it the first time and within seconds the entire brain "lights up" and one experiences euphoria that can last for hours. Being a powerful experience such as that, some are hooked the very first time they use. Others go through progressive stages. It's not working as magically as the first time, but it is still a wonderful experience.

Then someone teaches you how to smoke meth and you have another "wow!" experience. You feel you have found the pleasure paradise again. After subsequent uses, the pleasure paradise begins to slip again from your reach. So, you look for a more potent way of getting meth into your system; you inject it. Once again you feel that the brain lights up like it did the first time. Naturally you want to do it again. Alas, that magic of the drug is gone. Each subsequent experience is less "fantastic" than the one before and then you do it just so you don't feel so crummy.

Instead of feeling euphoric, at this stage an addict feels fidgety, restless and/or agitated. The dopamine introduced in the system from outside can't be absorbed by the brain as it previously was. The dopamine that you used to produce has become totally inefficient. You don't enjoy anything so you constantly look for another dose of dopamine.

Some may have seizures or experience hallucinations. Instead of the highway to paradise, it is a journey on to the "slippery slope." Some in order to support their habit begin to beg, borrow or steal. Others choose a path that brings them in direct conflict with the law. In order to support their meth habit, they resort to "cooking' meth in their own home and thus endanger their own life and the lives of their family. There are serious psychosocial consequences as well. Jobs are lost, partners separate, divorces occur and families break up and if there is a meth lab at home, children can suffer significant emotional and mental impairment. In another article I will discuss the signs to recognize and the measures to take to seize control over the drug use.

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Copyright 2005, Mind Publications 
Posted November 2005


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