Methamphetamines are synthetic amphetamines or stimulants that are produced and illegally sold in pill form, capsules, powder and chunks. An amphetamine is a chemical that has stimulant properties akin to adrenaline. Like adrenaline, methamphetamines stimulate the central nervous system and are extremely addictive.
After the effects of meth wear off, it can cause severe withdrawal that is more intense and longer lasting than both speed and cocaine. Meth is also known as crank, glass, speed, crystal ice, batu, chalk, shaba or zip.
On-going research indicates that meth users show signs of brain damage. This on-going research suggests that this drug may have long-term health consequences.
All addictive drugs have two things in common. They produce an initial pleasurable effect followed by a rebound unpleasant effect. An amphetamine like meth through its stimulant effect produces a positive high, but when it wears off, it leaves the person with intense depressed feelings. This is because of the suppression by the drug of the normal production of adrenaline.
The long-term effects of heavy use of meth, besides possible brain damage, are that it may lead to malnutrition, skin disorders and ulcers resulting in vitamin deficiencies.
According to a series of articles that most major newspapers have been carrying, the "meth epidemic" is infecting the nation. Unfortunately, because most of the recent articles are talking about the "meth epidemic" in rural communities in the mid West, we in the suburbs of Suffolk County probably think we are immune and/or it hasn't hit us yet.
Let's not delude ourselves. The "meth epidemic" has hit our streets, whether it is Port Jefferson or Brentwood. This infectious drug is being sold and consumed at a rapid rate.
The scary part of this synthetic high is that it is quick, intense, affordable and accessible. Too many of our teenagers have money to burn. They are bored, looking for a thrill and believe they are invincible. Thus, they are ripe to being seduced into trying a substance that could be lethal.
Unfortunately, we as adults, as educators have lost credibility with our children. Intentionally or unintentionally, we have lied to them over the years. We taught them that pot or "weed" is a gateway drug to other horrible drugs. There is no empirical research that supports that statement. If someone smokes pot, even recreationally, it does not insure that they will try more addictive drugs and get hooked.
As we know, many high school students have smoked a few joints or even smoke regularly and have not become hard-core addicts. That does not mean smoking pot is okay. First, it is illegal and second, it is deemed by most health care professionals as not healthy. However, the practice does not automatically lead you to hard-core addiction.
The reality in our community is that a growing number of teenagers are smoking, drinking and experimenting with serious street drugs. Too many parents are silent and/or indifferent.
In our larger community, heroin, crack/cocaine and meth are on the rise. One death or serious accident because of this kind of drug use is one too many. A growing number of high school and college students are looking for an intense, quick high. Unfortunately, even with one experience, depending on one's chemistry, one can become addicted to meth and then begin the walk to destruction.
SM is seventeen years old. He was born into a family of privilege. He has three younger brothers. His Dad is a senior executive at a large firm in New York City. His Mom is an elementary school teacher.
In high school, SM was an athlete and a good student. His younger siblings looked up to him. In sophomore year, he started to push the envelope. He started innocently smoking weed a few times a week. That social behavior became every day. On the weekend to turn up the high he would smoke and drink vodka.
At home his behavior became a little erratic. However, because he was the oldest, his parents had no one to measure him against. They dismissed his behavior as growing pains, because he still kept his curfew, showed up for dinner and was managing in school.
After Christmas of his sophomore year, his mid term report card went from honor roll grades to barely passing. All of his teachers noted a significant change in his attitude and his disposition.
When SM was confronted, he became very defensive and said nothing was wrong. He claimed to be bored and that he would do better next term. Having been put on notice, SM's grades did improve, but not back to the level they were at the beginning of the year.
Now he was breaking curfew and missing dinner a few times a week, always with a lame excuse. His Mom was worried because she noticed a consistent weight loss. He was never heavy or very skinny, but over the months he was definitely getting thinner.
In June of that year, SM was literally out of control. Academically, he salvaged the year by the skin of his teeth. Socially, he was a disaster. His parents were finding vodka bottles under his bed and in his closet. Now he was coming home noticeably drunk. When confronted, he would only admit to drinking, but his mood swings were frequent and very noticeable.
SM's parents reached out to the school social worker for help and direction. She urged them to have him evaluated and tested ASAP. He blatantly refused. In his anger, SM made all kinds of threats. His parents backed down.
A few days later, just as school ended for summer vacation, SM stayed out all night. The next afternoon they got a call from the local precinct. SM had been arrested for selling meth to an undercover cop. He was being held on fifty thousand dollars bail.
It took his parents a few days to raise that kind of cash. The brief jail stay sobered SM up pretty quickly. He shared in many ways more than his parents wanted to know. He admitted to hard-core use, that he couldn't stop and was selling to feed his habit.
Now he was scared. His case is pending. He has no priors, but made a number of sales. As it stands, it looks like he may face a heavy jail sentence, which will do nothing to address his addiction.
However, at least SM is alive and able to share his story. His dealer, an eighteen year old from his neighborhood overdosed and died the night SM was arrested. SM has a chance to live. Will he choose to?