Methamphetamines and Amphetamines

Methamphetamines and amphetamines are collectively regarded as stimulant drugs with the capability of speeding up the central nervous system of the affected person(s). These drugs are prohibited in most countries including the United States. Despite such strict laws, these substances are produced on large scale by illegal chemical laboratories and distributed by existing cartels of drug traffickers and other interested parties (US Dept. of Justice, 2002).

In the United States and other parts of the world, methamphetamine and amphetamine abuse is on the rise and urgent counteractive measures need to be put in place. Statistics also reveal that the regular users comprise of people from all races, ages and various socioeconomic backgrounds. To worsen the situation, studies conducted by the National Drug Control Policy indicate that approximately 5 percent of the US population in the age bracket of 12 to 75 have at one point or another used these drugs. The statistics as at 2002 also revealed that the number of victims who seek medical attention had increased from 1 percent to 5.6. It is projected that this trend will be maintained for more years to come.  

Drug abuse in most cases leads to addiction andor extreme over dependence on the substance, which may in turn have severe negative effects on the general behavior and health of the victim. These negative effects of the drug may persist for several years even after the use of the drug has been discontinued. Methamphetamines and amphetamines are highly addictive drugs. In most cases however, the body develops a response mechanism that builds up a certain level of tolerance to the drugs. Chronic abusers of these drugs are usually forced by the prevailing circumstances to either increase or double their dosage so as to have a feel of the drugs effects. Doubling the dosage however has the overall effect of increasing the negative effects associated with the drug. If a habitual user suddenly quits the habit, some withdrawal symptoms such as hunger, extreme fatigue, depression and irritability may occur.

The primary objective of this essay is to discuss in broad the abuse of amphetamines and methamphetamines and their associated negative effects on the health and general behavior of the victims of their abuse.

Various salts and compounds of methamphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and amphetamine are jointly regarded as amphetamines because they exhibit similar chemical properties and effects on their abusers (US, Dept of Justice, 2002). Amphetamines usually come in powder form, capsules or tablets which may then be swallowed, inhaled or injected depending on individual preferences of the user. Some types and salts of amphetamines e.g. Dexedrine and Ritalin have been proven scientifically to treat certain symptoms of some conditions. Dosage of such salts should therefore be guided by a physician and closely monitored for tolerance and overdose effects.

Effects of Amphetamines
Just like any other drug, the general effects of amphetamines tend to vary from one victim to another, depending on individual psychology, health condition, physical size among other factors such as other drugs being used concurrently with amphetamines. Abuse of amphetamines has got several short term and long term effects. Some of the short term effects include increased rate of metabolism, hypertension and high blood pressure, increased heart rates, rapid breathing, feelings of excitement and exhilaration, increased mental alertness, hallucinations, and increased energy levels among other notable effects (Hedblorn, 1975).

The long term effects of the amphetamine drug include loss of appetite, drug addiction, heart failures due to irregular or rapid heart beats and weight loss. A victim may also develop amphetamine psychosis which is characterized by paranoia, hallucinations, anxiousness and panic, restlessness and irritability, aggressiveness, impulsive behavior, delirium, tolerance among other notable symptoms. These signs and symptoms typically fade away once the affected person quits the habit.

Methamphetamine is an odorless, white crystalline powder with a sour taste. The drug is highly soluble in water and other alcoholic drinks. Methamphetamines may also be puffed or smoked, snorted, orally ingested or injected. This drug was originally intended for medicinal uses such as nasal and bronchial decongestion when inhaled under prescription from a qualified physician. Currently in the US, methamphetamine is a drug approved for the treatment of exogenous obesity and ADHD condition. It may also be prescribed and recommended for the treatment of resistant depression and narcolepsy (Miller, 2009).

Methamphetamines drugs may be described as extremely powerful stimulants that can cause serious damages to ones central nervous system. The costs incurred in the laboratory manufacture of this drug are relatively low due to the availability of required ingredients. The widespread abuse of methamphetamine may be attributed to this factor.

Effects of Methamphetamines
Some of the effects of this drug are similar to those resulting from amphetamine abuse, except for its harmful impacts on the central nervous system. In general, the short term effects of this drug are said to last up to seven hours. Some of the effects include loss of appetite, increased activity, aggressiveness, increased blood pressure and heart rates, a misleading sense or feeling of well being, psychotic behavior, and violence (US Dept. of Health, 2002).

Some of the long- standing effects include neurological and cardiac damage, impaired learning and memory, total memory loss, addiction and tolerance. According to several research studies and findings, expectant mothers should not ingest any form or dosage of methamphetamines based on the facts that the drug may have severe negative impacts on the unborn child (Jeng, et al, 2005). It is therefore advisable not to prescribe such drugs to expectant women at any stage of their pregnancy since the drug is secreted in breast milk has the ability to penetrate the placenta. Newborns in such situations are born with mild cases of the withdrawal syndrome which often disappears with time (Winslow et al, 2007).

In the US, possession of any laboratory apparatus that could be used in the widespread production of these drugs was prohibited in 1983 and subsequently enacted the 1986 Federal Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act in an effort to combat the widespread use of such drugs. Several challenges and drawbacks against the fight have been encountered over the years since most of the ingredients used in their production are readily available (US Dept. of Justice, 2002).

Despite the fact that the drug is prohibited under normal circumstances, the drug should only be taken under prescription from qualified medical practitioners. Rehabilitation centers should be put in place to help victims recover from the negative consequences of drug addiction and those arrested and convicted by the law should also be forwarded to such facilities for treatment, guidance, counseling and rehabilitation.


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