Pubdate: Wed, 08 Oct 2003
Source: Mitchell News-Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2003 Mitchell News-Journal
Author: Mett Ausley, Jr., MD
Note: Newshawk title


Dear Editor,

Regarding the News-Journal's Sept. 24 article "Methamphetamine use rises in 
the area", northwestern North Carolina's recent meth lab outbreak is cause 
for concern as such facilities present fire, explosion and toxic hazards. 
Methamphetamine is rapidly addicting, and prolonged use causes mental and 
physical deterioration.

However, the unsupported assertion that "only six percent of people 
addicted to methamphetamines recover from the addiction" is dubious. 
Compared with the severe distress and prolonged complications of opiate 
detoxification, amphetamine withdrawal is mild and transitory. Most addicts 
can be treated as outpatients, requiring little more than light sedation 
and psychological support. Late relapse is common but implicates 
psychosocial circumstances rather than physiologic drug craving. Long-term 
treatment results vary but generally much exceed the negligible success 
rate claimed earlier. Certainly, no clinical evidence supports dismissing 
the option of medically treating methamphetamine addicts. While the matter 
is serious, the public should be wary of purposeful alarm and exaggeration 
aimed at securing political support and taxpayer funding for a "war on 
meth" controlled exclusively by criminal justice authorities.

Such expensive efforts' repeated failures to halt meth labs' decade-long 
transcontinental march attests to enforcement's inadequacy as a solitary 
anti-drug strategy and calls for reassessment.

Mett Ausley, Jr., MD

Lake Waccamaw
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