The effects of methamphetamine (meth) make it a uniquely horrible drug. It is among, if not the most addicting, of our commonly seen illegal drugs. In addition, meth has devastating physical side effects that destroy the human body. Of course, like most drugs, meth destroys lives and families along with the body of the addict.
Meth is a powerfully addicting stimulant. Addicts routinely stay awake for days on end (sometimes remarkably exceeding 20 days). Addicts also commonly become paranoid.
The home lab manufacturing of methamphetamine typically involves poisonous ingredients like camping fuel, acids and lithium from batteries. These poisons usually contaminate the meth and cause secondary health problems like liver damage, open skin wounds and the famous meth mouth, consisting of black rotting teeth.
Home meth labs also generate poisonous gases that contaminate homes and sometimes expose others (including children) to toxic fumes and the risk of fire or explosion.
It is particularly difficult to treat meth addicts.
In part, that is because the drug is found in the addicts’ brain tissue for more than a year after the last dose.
To my knowledge, that is a uniquely long time among street drugs.
The presence of meth in their brain tissue makes it difficult for meth addicts to think clearly or escape the physical chemical dependency. Effective treatment usually involves a period of forced sobriety (such as jail or prison) of 18 months, followed or accompanied by drug treatment.
There are very few treatment programs that offer long enough supervision because long treatment is very expensive.
As a result of the quick and powerful addictive nature of meth, along with the difficulty of treating meth addiction, we have strongly focused on preventative education to discourage children or adults from experimenting with meth.
Dave Clark is the district attorney general of the 7th District of Tennessee – serving Anderson County.