Methamphetamine – a.k.a. crystal meth – is one of the most dangerous drugs in America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, greater than 1 in 20 American age 12 and up report using meth at least once.
Hardest-hit are younger people. KCI, an anti-meth website, says that up to 78% of all users are under the age of 30, and the largest demographic is between the ages of 18 and 23. A surprising percentage of young adults mistakenly believe that it is not as dangerous as other stimulants, such as cocaine.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s latest Drug Threat Assessment determined that the Pacific region of the United States has the largest meth problem in the country. 79% of law enforcement agencies in the region report that meth is “highly available”. Nationwide, nearly a third of agencies list meth as the greatest drug threat in their area.
Meth in Southern California
Southern California is particularly at-risk. 61% of all meth seizures in the world happen in the United States or Mexico. In fact, neighboring San Diego was once known as the “Meth Capital” of the country. Between 2012 and 2016, meth seizures along the Southwest border increased 157%. Of special relevance, 47% of all seizures occurred in the San Diego corridor.
At the same time, purity is up—currently at 96% – while the price is at an all-time low. Between 2011 and 2016, the price for a pure gram of meth dropped from $98 to $58.
This “perfect storm” of factors shows that methamphetamine presents a real and present danger to Orange County and the rest of Southern California. In fact, according to a 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are more treatment admissions in California for amphetamines and other stimulants than for any other class of drug—including opioids, marijuana, or even alcohol.
Warning Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse
Recognizing the signs of meth abuse in a friend or family member is the first step in being able to help.
- Excessive wakefulness, sometimes for multiple days
- Little to no appetite
- Rapid, unhealthy weight loss, to the point of appearing malnourished
- Fidgeting, inability to sit still
- Fascination with repetitive tasks
- Difficulties in focusing or concentrating
- Incessant, rambling speech
- Heightened anxiety, nervousness, or paranoia
- Sweaty, hot appearance, even without exertion
- Extremely dilated pupils
- Increased sexual activity and risky behavior
- Poor personal hygiene
- Bad skin—premature aging, sallowness, sagging
- Discolored, decaying, or broken teeth
Besides symptoms exhibited by the user, methamphetamine use is also evidenced by drug paraphernalia:
- Small plastic baggies
- Glass pipes
- Empty light bulbs
- Crumpled aluminum foil
- Soda cans with a hole punctured in the side
- Cut straws
- Empty ink pens
- White powder or resident with white powder or residue
The Bottom Line about Meth
Because of the intense high it produces, methamphetamine is one of the most-addictive drugs on the planet. The euphoric rush is 12 times stronger than is felt during sex. But because the effects only last about 20 minutes, a crashing meth addict feels depressed and even suicidal afterwards. The only relief they can find is from even more meth.
And here’s the thing – while some drugs are showing potential promise as treatments for methamphetamine addiction, as of yet, there are no medications that have been officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
This means that other evidenced-based treatment strategies become even more important:
- Drug detox
- Individual counseling
- Peer group therapy
- Stress reduction
- Healthy coping skills
- Trigger avoidance
- Relapse prevention and response
- Holistic therapies – massage, yoga, exercise, nutrition, art/poetry therapy, etc.
Since 1978, Chapman House has provided specialized rehab for meth addiction. By offering comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment, Chapman House has become the most-trusted rehab program in Orange County.
If you are ready to regain your sobriety and get the help you deserve, contact Chapman House TODAY.
By Albert Fontenot