Why is Meth Dangerous?
Meth use is dangerous both to the individual user and to their families and community. Dr. Jack Stump, a nationally-recognized authority on meth described the cycle of use at the Meth Summit in Bend: "Methamphetamine offers the user a pleasure that is simply not attainable in normal life". He said that meth offers a short-lived high leading to a predictable cycle of peaks and valleys-incredible highs followed by overwhelming crashes followed by attempts to re-attain the high. "Because of the highly addictive nature of the drug, it literally takes over your life. You won't see a user who hasn't stolen from family and friends. Users don't realize how they are changing for the worse." Meth addiction can occur very quickly in many users as they seek the highly pleasurable feelings associated with their initial use of the drug.
Whether meth is smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally, it works directly on the brain and spinal cord, interfering with normal neurotransmission, in many cases actually "rewiring" the brain. Researchers at UCLA Medical Center found that even after meth users quit using, many had suffered irreparable brain damage. Long-term, heavy use of meth can also lead to tooth loss, malnutrition, skin disorders, ulcers and diseases resulting from vitamin deficiencies. Stump concluded that "it is estimated that it takes a full two years to recover from the addiction. Recovery from meth addiction is extremely difficult. It may include frequent relapses and take longer than recovery from addiction to other drugs of abuse."
Chronic users of meth often become paranoid, suspicious, and hyperactive, mistaking others intentions, leading to violence. Chronic use is also accompanied by significant weight loss, exposure to disease and violence, and general neglect of personal health and hygiene. Meth addiction is also characterized by disrupted or broken family relationships, loss of jobs, failure at school, and criminal activity resulting in arrest and incarceration.
From 1999 through 2008, methamphetamine related deaths in Oregon have increased 45% according to the Oregon State Medical Examiner. Of the 228 illicit drug related deaths in 2008, methamphetamine use was involved in 106, four of which occurred in Deschutes County.
In addition to serious health concerns for meth users, this highly addictive drug is negatively impacting our community in many ways:
Public Safety- Law enforcement estimates that nearly 85% of local burglaries are due to meth
Higher Taxes-for law enforcement, courts, probation agencies, child welfare services, jails, and treatment services
Parental Neglect/Impact on the Family-Children of meth users are often neglected, abused, and require child protective services
Loss of Productivity-lack of achievement in school, dropping out of school, lost productivity in work, dangerous behavior in the workplace
Public Health/Environmental Damage-Meth labs create highly toxic, explosive, and hazardous waste products which are hazardous to health, and extremely expensive to clean up. Toxic chemicals are often found on former meth lab sites years after they have been destroyed which present serious health risks.