HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html It's More Potent Than In The '60s
Pubdate: Fri, 03 Dec 2004
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Victoria News
Author: Rick Stiebel
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


WEST SHORE - While methamphetamines have been around since the 1960s,
the new wave of high-powered crystal meth is much purer and more
potent than what was available in the past, says the
prevention/treatment manager for the Northwest High Intensity Drug
Trafficking Area in Washington State.

"It's like comparing French's mustard to imported Dijon," Dr. Steve
Freng said. "It's the most seductive, insidious drug I've encountered
in 30 years in the field."

One reason for the drug's rapid proliferation in the past 10 years is
that anyone who knows what he's doing can cook it up, using a scary
mix of chemicals and ingredients that are readily available, and with
as little equipment as what would easily fit into the trunk of a car.
"We're not talking about rocket scientists here," Freng said.

The Birch, or Nazi method, which doesn't involve heat, was developed
during the Second World War to give troops a boost on the

Using the Birch method for making meth, uncovered at Berkley
University in the early 1990s, clandestine labs can produce one ounce
of pharmaceutical quality, 80-per-cent pure product in 90 minutes.

The drug acts on the production and re-uptake of neurotransmitters,
flooding the brain. The brain adapts over time by decreasing its own
internal production of neuro-transmitters. Even after abstinence for
extended periods, research indicates that nerves in the brain sustain
permanent damage.

"I spoke with a researcher recently who specializes in brain imaging,"
Freng said in a telephone interview from his Seattle office. "He said
he's never seen brains that run so hot as when they're on meth.

"All families of drugs have some physiological effects," Freng said.
"There are different sequences for different people."

In the case of crystal meth, the damage appears and accrues in a much
faster manner than other drugs, including alcohol.

"It has a knack for finding the weak link, genetically," he said. "If
there's a history of diabetes or heart disease, those problems will
surface earlier, and in a more exaggerated form."

While research of the long-term effects hasn't been possible because
the new breed of meth hasn't been around long enough, Freng says some
physiological effects have been well documented.

The damage impacts memory, decision-making, language comprehension,
vocabulary and number recognition functions. The ability to
concentrate or fix attention for extended periods of time is also
extremely limited.

"It's cheap, gives you energy, keeps you thin, and you can cook it in
your kitchen."

While people's cycles of moods generally go up and down during the
course of a day, Freng said the mood of meth addicts essentially
flat-lines, with no variability and stunted emotional reactions.

"One of the scarier long-term effects is the failure to enjoy the
emotional textures of life," Freng said.

The drug's initial ability to suppress appetite can result in profound
weight loss and extended periods of malnutrition or poor nutrition.

"The physiological ramifications of sleep deprivation for extended
periods of time has its own outcomes," Freng said.

In more short-term addictions, other physiological problems arising
from meth include the immediate degradation of hair, skin and teeth.

"Sometimes oral health degrades so rapidly, dentures are required at a
pathetically early age," said Freng, pointing out that a dentist
recently told Freng that clinics are doing full extractions on adults
19 and 20 years of age who have used meth for 18 months or more.
Chronic use also causes skin lesions, abscesses and infections, and
rapid deterioration of the skin's suppleness.

For more information on the meth menace, visit the Northwest High
Intensity Drug Trafficking Area's Website at
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