The Crystal Meth Nightmare
After reviewing the last few years it is apparent that the abuse of crystal methamphetamine (also known as crystal, meth) has gotten out of control within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. One reason this is so alarming is that the abuse of crystal meth contributes to the spread of HIV infection. Crystal meth is easy to get, costs less than cocaine and is highly addictive. Crystal meth can be smoked, injected, snorted or swallowed and is one of the drugs that takes quite a bit of time to recover from.
Like all amphetamines, crystal meth causes large amounts of dopamine to be released within the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that improves mood, increases self-confidence and strength and heightens sex drive. While, crystal meth works mainly on the brain it causes a number of side effects that prove to be especially devastating; loss of appetite, insomnia, high heart rate, dental deterioration and many others. The problem with crystal meth addiction is that people require greater and greater amounts of the drug to capture that initial high. At higher doses, side effects on other parts of the body become more obvious.
Those addicted to crystal meth experience withdrawal when they stop using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, depressed mood, loss of pleasurable feelings and suicidal thoughts. One of the worst effects of crystal meth is that users often have unprotected sex when under the influence. This puts people at risk for new HIV infections. Even people who already have HIV can get reinfected with a drug-resistant strain of HIV or contract another sexually-transmitted disease.
In addition, crystal meth may interact with HIV medications. There is one report of a person taking a protease inhibitor who died of a crystal meth overdose because of a drug interaction.
Successful treatment of crystal meth addiction is almost impossible for one to do on their own. Most that are successful in recovery enter a drug rehab or addiction treatment center which provides a safe detox and support from the cravings experienced from discontinuing the drug.
For information relating to locating a quality drug rehab for treatment of a meth addiction you might try calling Recovery Connection at 1- 800-511-9225. Recovery Connection is a nationwide referral and resource helpline. Visit Recovery Connection at www.recoveryconnection.org.
Jonathan Huttner is one of the the principals at Lakeview Health Systems, an addiction treatment, alcohol and drug rehab facility.