Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Research Essay on Crystal Meth

I would like to start by saying that methamphetamine (meth) is a synthetic stimulant drug used for medical and illicit purposes. Meth is very addictive and induces strong feelings of euphoria. Typically illegally methamphetamine is sold as a colorless crystalline solid called crystal meth, glass, ice, tik. 
When sold in rock formations methamphetamine is called dope, raw or tweak. When sold in pure crystalline powder one calls it crank, or speed (Johnson, 2004).

One needs to remember that crystal meth is a powerful central nervous system stimulant drug that would drastically affect the human brain by affecting the nervous mechanisms responsible for the regulating certain classes of neurotransmitters that go by the name of biogenic amines and monoamine neurotransmitters. The danger of crystal meth’s impact on the neurotransmitters is that they are responsible for the heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and other things such as appetite, attention, mood and responses associated with human alertness and alarm conditions. While it is not well-understood how crystal meth affects these neurotransmitters one believes that it could easily reverse the monoamine transporter’s direction of flow. The release of the monoamines from the vesicles to the cytoplasm and from the cytoplasm to the synapse contributes to the so called prolonged synaptic cleft. As one might assume the neurotransmitter itself would start producing less impulses which in turn would contribute to the tolerance and withdrawal effects (Holley, 2003).

The effects of crystal meth no physiology and psychology resemble the fight-or-flight response in humans which physically is represented by the increased heart rate, high blood pressure, constriction of arterial walls, pupil dilation, and increased blood sugar (hyperglycemia). The person who takes crystal meth will experience increased alertness and focus, will not notice fatigue and have decreased appetite. By many drug takers this is interpreted as a sense of euphoria, sense of well-being, or power.

Continuous use of crystal meth will produce anxiety as represented by fear, tremors, and even psychosis during which a person will misinterpret the actions of others, start to hallucinate, and become unrealistically suspicious. The exhaustion syndrome, intense fatigue and the need for sleep will team up with depression and suicidal thoughts. Crystal meth when ingested might keep the person awake and functioning for more than 24 hours depending on the dosage.

As the brain adapts to the new chemical conditions produced by crystal meth the body will reduce chemical metabolism which in simple words is seen in the rebound effect when the transmitters require additional intakes of crystal meth to function properly. Many drug-takers would compensate the reduced mood with more crystal meth to maintain the state of euphoria and alertness. While the person can remain alert for days, the sleep depravation effect will impact the individual and will be seen in increased irritability, blurred vision, memory lapses, confusion, and paranoia. In some cases a person can die (Johnson, 2004).

Crystal meth also negatively impact the human immune system which gets depressed due to sleep depravation. The malnutrition which is a result of appetite loss created by crystal meth also negatively impact the health.

Other side effects of crystal meth include sexually compulsive behavior during which a person will engage in sexual intercourses with strangers and thus is exposed to the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease. The reduced pain barriers allows people to push their muscles to the point of failure, which although might give temporary ‘super-strength’ oftentimes contributes to the muscle damage. The increased tooth decay, i.e. the so called “meth-mouth” is also common.

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Holley, Mary, 2003, Crystal Meth: They Call It ‘Ice’, Prentice Hall, pp. 230-232.
Johnson, Dirk, 2004, Meth: America’s Home-Cooked Menace, McGraw Hill, pp. 187-189.