All forms of cannabis have negative physical and mental effects. Several regularly observed physical effects of cannabis are a substantial increase in the heart rate, bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and throat, and increased appetite. Use of cannabis may impair or reduce short-term memory and comprehension, alter sense of time, and reduce ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination, such as driving a car. Research also shows that students do not retain knowledge when they are 'high.' Motivation and cognition may be altered, making the acquisition of new information difficult. Marijuana can also produce paranoia and psychosis.
Because users often inhale the unfiltered smoke deeply and then hold it in their lungs as long as possible, marijuana is damaging to the lungs and pulmonary system.
Marijuana smoke contains more cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke. Marijuana contains 421 bioactive chemical molecules. Sixty-one are called cannabinoids, and when inhaled or ingested, become absorbed and remain embedded in the membrane of every cell in the body for months at a time. After smoking only one "joint," 40 to 50 percent of the THC (tetrahy-drocannabinol), one of the chemicals found in the leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis or marijuana plant, remains in the membranes for four to eight days. Ten to twenty percent remains for 30 to 48 days, and one percent can remain for four to six months.
Because the brain is one-third fatty tissue, marijuana is retained in the brain and the brain cells are steadily and irreversibly damaged. When messages from the brain are blocked because of a concentration of THC in the cells, thoughts, memory, feelings, and behaviors are affected.
THC has caused birth defects in laboratory animals and may cause birth defects in humans as well. It is known that THC passes from the mother through the placenta to the developing baby, and from a breast feeding mother to the baby. Use by teenagers who are at an age of rapid physical, mental, emotional, and sexual development, interferes with these critical areas of growth.
Marijuana causes a temporary increase in heart rate similar to the effect produced by stress, and may produce acute panic reactions, especially among young users.
Long-term users of cannabis may develop dependence on the drug. The drug can become the center of their lives.
WHAT IS METHAMPHETAMINE
Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant with a high potential for abuse and dependence. A synthetic drug, methamphetamine is closely related chemically to amphetamine, but produces greater effects on the central nervous system (CNS). Its euphoric effects are similar to but are longer lasting than cocaine.
Methamphetamine takes the form of a white, odorless, and bitter-tasting crystalline powder, readily soluble in water or alcohol. Street methamphetamine is referred to by many names including "meth", "speed", "zip", "go-fast", "cristy", "chalk", and "crank". Pure methamphetamine hydrochloride, the smokeable form of the drug, is called "L.A." or - because of its clear, chunky crystals- "ice" "crystal", "glass", or "quartz."
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant. The street version is most often manufactured illegally in underground labs. One of the most common manufacturing procedures is called the "cold method".
Methamphetamine strongly activates certain systems in the brain. It is closely related chemically to amphetamine, but the central nervous system effects of methamphetamine are greater. Both drugs have some medical uses, primarily in the treatment of obesity, but their therapeutic use is limited. CNS actions that result from taking even small amounts of methamphetamine include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, hypothermia, and euphoria. Other CNS effects include irritability, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, and aggressiveness. Hypothermia and convulsions can result in death.
Methamphetamine is also known as "speed" or "crystal" when it is swallowed or sniffed; as "crank" when it is injected; and as "ice" or "glass" when it is smoked. Ice is clear chunky crystals resemble ice. All forms of methamphetamine are extremely dangerous and induce long-lasting, debilitating effects. Methamphetamine has a high potential for abuse and dependence.
Side effects of methamphetamine use include irritability, Nervousness, insomnia, nausea, hot flashes, dryness of the mouth, sweating, palpitations, and hypertension. Excessive doses can produce mental confusion, severe anxiety, and paranoia. Continued moderate to chronic use may lead to physical dependence and even death.
HISTORY AND DEGREE OF THE PROBLEM
Over the past four decades the nature and extent of methamphetamine use has been prevalent in west coast cities and in western and southwestern communities, including many rural areas. Abuse of the drug now is being reported in urban settings in widening areas of the West, Midwest, and elsewhere. Methamphetamine is the dominant illicit drug problem in San Diego, according to Law Enforcement data that include records of hospital emergency room admissions, drug-related deaths, police drug seizures; and local observations of street buys and drug-trafficking patterns. Honolulu and San Francisco also have substantial methamphetamine-using populations. Recent reports indicate increasing patterns of methamphetamine use in Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Seattle, and Tucson as well.
Until recently, the drug's manufacture was generally dispersed so that small quantities were produced in rural areas. There are indications organized groups operating out of Mexico and southern California are now manufacturing that methamphetamine on a larger scale. Methamphetamine of Mexican origin is now found along newly extended trafficking routes in several States, including Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas, according to Department of Justice. Clandestine labs have produced the drug in rural and desert areas where the telltale odors of the production process are less likely to be detected. Mobile labs in campers and vans have been reported in Washington.
Methamphetamine is a powerful and dangerous psychoactive substance and any increase in Methamphetamine abuse is a serious problem that must be arrested before it becomes a trend.
WHO IS ABUSING METHAMPHETAMINE AND WHY
Methamphetamine is an amphetamine-based drug with psychedelic properties that has gained popularity over the past decade among adolescents and young adults who frequent raves (large, all-night dance parties), all-night clubs, and concerts. Besides price and availability, other reasons people use Methamphetamine are:
- quick onset of effects and initial "rush" of energy usually are described as euphoric;
- perception of "I can do anything";
- misconception of fewer side effects and unpleasant emotional reactions than other drugs (i.e. cocaine, heroin, and LSD);
- ready availability and low cost;
- increased wakefulness and decreased appetite; and
- Increased alertness.
WHAT DOES METHAMPHETAMINE LOOK LIKE
Methamphetamine is a powder, sometimes made into capsules or pills. Sometimes people just snort the powder. There's a crystallized version that people smoke.
HOW IS METHAMPHETAMINE USED
Methamphetamine comes in many forms and can be smoked, snorted, orally ingested, or injected. The drug alters moods in different ways, depending on how it is taken.
Immediately after smoking the drug or injecting it intravenously, the user experiences an intense rush or "flash" that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Snorting or oral ingestion produces euphoria - a high but not an intense rush. Snorting produces effects within 3 to 5 minutes, and oral ingestion produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes.
As with similar stimulants, methamphetamine most often is used in a "binge and crash" pattern. Because tolerance for methamphetamine occurs within minutes - meaning the pleasurable effects disappear even before the drug concentration in the blood falls significantly - users try to maintain the high by binging on the drug.
In the 1980's, "ice", a smokeable form of methamphetamine, came into use. Ice is a large, usually clear crystal of high purity that is smoked in a glass pipe like crack cocaine. The smoke is odorless, leaves a residue that can be resmoked, and produces effects that may continue for 12 hours or more.
SIGNS OF METHAMPHETAMINE USE
While the following could be warning signs of many other abused substances, here are some signs of possible Methamphetamine abuse:
- jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- agitation and aggressiveness
- eye wiggles, tightened muscles, nervousness
- inability to stay focused
- next-day sleepiness
- loss of appetite
- unusual jitteriness
- unusually talkative
METHAMPHETAMINE AND THE LAW
Methamphetamine is Schedule II stimulant in the United States.
SIDE EFFECTS OF METHAMPHETAMINE
SHORT TERM EFFECTS
- increased ability to work long hours with decreased fatigue
- Unusually increased activity
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Euphoric mannerisms
- Increased respiration
As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decreased appetite. Those who smoke or inject methamphetamine report a brief, intense sensation, or rush. 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.
LONG TERM EFFECTS
- Dependence and addiction psychosis
- out-of-control rages
- mood disturbances
- repetitive motor activity
- Weight loss
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. Chronic Methamphetamine abusers exhibit symptoms that can include violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. They can also display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping on the skin, called "formication"). Paranoia can result in homicidal and suicidal thoughts.
With chronic use, tolerance for Methamphetamine can develop. 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 bingeing 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.
Short-term effects can include:
- Increased attention and
- Increased activity
- Decreased appetite
- Euphoria and rush
- Increased respiration
Long-term effects can include:
- Dependence and addiction
- out of control rages
- mood disturbances
- repetitive motor activity
- Weight loss