Meth makes walking dead of our youth

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2006

One little hit is all, they think. I'll just try it. One taste can't hurt, will it? In the case of crystal methamphetamine, one hit off a pipe can definitely hurt, leading those addicted into a dangerous lifestyle fraught with paranoia and psychotic behavior.

Meth use has grown in recent years, especially in rural areas of the country, because it's so easily made. It's likely that you possess some of the ingredients for this highly addictive drug in your own home. A catchall term, &#8220smurfing,” has been used to describe meth dealers that bounce from one store to the next in order to purchase ingredients used to produce the drug. For our youth, meth has become the cheaper alternative to more expensive drugs like cocaine, marijuana and heroin.

But why would a young person indulge in a drug that ravages both the body and mind in the way that meth does?

According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, young people use meth:

To get a rush: Drugs stimulate the mind in different ways. Meth users experience an intense pleasurable sensation, commonly referred to as a &#8220rush.” However, that high is usually followed by a &#8220crash,” in which the user experiences depression.

To boost self-esteem: Our teenage years are always an awkward time, especially socially. Meth provides a release of those inhibitions, and for teen users the drug allows them to be at ease in social situations.

To self-medicate: Meth releases Dopamine (a chemical found naturally in the body, which makes us happy) and first-time users experiencing a hit of crystal meth can quickly become addicted to the drug because of this.

To lose weight: For teenage girls fighting a battle against weight, the drug is particularly attractive since one of meth's side effects is loss of appetite. They also feel sure they can control their use of meth in order to reap that &#8220weight-loss reward.” Unfortunately, as they learn too late, trying to control a meth addiction is like trying to drown an alligator.

To stay awake: Late-night research and studying can take its toll. Many young people use meth as a way to stay awake and remain focused. But those effects usually are followed by extreme nervousness and hallucinations.