Table of Contents
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that works by stimulating the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. In this study, the short term effects of this drug have been documented, consistently indicating effects such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, paranoia and psychosis, increased breathing, poor appetite, insomnia and increases in body temperature. In the long term, methamphetamine has been found to cause dental health problems, eye damage, visual impairments, impaired sexual performance and low sex drive. Methamphetamine use is very common among the urban gay populations, as explained in this study. This prevalence has increased over the last three decades, a factor that is linked to the ability of the drug to increase sexual aggression in the short term. This discussion highlights the pharmacological and behavioral interventions towards the management of methamphetamine, though it proposes that more focus be directed to developing special mechanisms to limit the possibility of these risks among the vulnerable populations, including the gay community. Introduction
Over the last half century, there have been concerted efforts directed towards curbing drug abuse. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2018) reports the changing social dynamics spearheaded by globalization and technological advancements have increased the ease with which people access dugs, a problem that has further spread to affect school-going children and adolescents, while intensifying its effects on the young adults. In different parts of the world, increasing concerns have been raised over the use of methamphetamine. Of more concern has been the use of the crystalline form of methamphetamine referred to as ‘ice’.
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Several studies have been conducted to enable people identify the users of methamphetamine, and the risks that are associated with the use of this drug. Despite this, Reback, Shoptaw and Grella (2008) explain that the lack of understanding on the advanced forms and diversified contents in this drug has further raised the degree of unawareness concerning the exact number of people using the drug. The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed description of methamphetamine, and the current patterns of its usage in the US. The discussion provides an analysis of the short and long term effects of methamphetamine use alongside with the necessary interventions to curb these emergent effects. Of more significance, the paper discusses the prevalence of methamphetamine use within the gay community and the reasons behind the trends entrenched in this pattern.
Various studies have defined methamphetamine as a long-acting stimulant that has different street names including meth, crank, speed and crystal. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines methamphetamine as a white, bitter-tasting stimulant drug that is consumed either as a pill or in powder form. There are different forms of methamphetamine, but NIDA identifies crystal methamphetamine as the most common form of methamphetamine that is used in the US. The crystal methamphetamine resembles shiny, bluish-white rocks or glass fragments (National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2018). This form of methamphetamine has chemical composition that resembles that of amphetamine, a drug used in treating narcolepsy and Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Methamphetamine is often consumed through smoking, inhaling, snorting, injecting and swallowing.
Effects of methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is a powerful drug whose continued use has been linked to physical and psychological addiction. As explained by Marshall and Werb (2010), methamphetamine works by affecting the chemical balance of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The effects of the drug on this chemicals lead to stimulation of the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system, thus the euphoria and flash that are documented by the NIDA.
The short term negative consequences of methamphetamine often manifest once the euphoric effects end. In the study conducted by Reback, Shoptaw and Grella (2008), the authors established that these consequences range from anxiety, depression, fatigue, paranoia and psychosis to increased breathing, poor appetite, insomnia and increases in body temperature. The negative consequences of methamphetamine are often the link between the psychological effects of the drug and its dependence in the long term.
In many instances, the users of methamphetamine derive the psychological effects of this drug through the euphoric feeling they acquire from its use. The long term effects of methamphetamine include dental health problems, eye damage, visual impairments, impaired sexual performance and low sex drive. The National Institute on Drug Abuse document, furthermore, that the long term effects of the drug are evidenced in weight loss and violent behavior.
Prevalence of methamphetamine use among the gay community
Methamphetamine use among gay and bisexual males has increased significantly over the last three decades. In a study conducted by Theodore, Achiro, Duran and Antoni (2011), it was established that methamphetamine use in the 1980s was low compared to other drugs. However, this is a sharp contrast to the recent studies that have indicated a sharp increase in the preference of methamphetamine use over other drugs among the gay community.
The study by Reback, Shoptaw and Grella (2008) painted a picture of the prevalence of methamphetamine among the gay community by estimating that the use of this drug was 5-10 times more common among the urban gay and bisexual mean compared to the general US population. The authors further argue that this especially high prevalence of methamphetamine among this sexual orientation group is linked to the psychological effects that the drug has on its users. The authors draw data from Los Angeles and Francisco, which indicate that methamphetamine use among gay men increased by 11% and 13% respectively within the six-month period of the study.
Another indicator of the high prevalence of methamphetamine use among the gay community is the relationship between the high rates of HIV infections among the gay and bisexual men who admitted to use injected methamphetamine. In their study, Theodore, Achiro, Duran and Antoni (2011) linked the causes of this increased prevalence to the short term effect of increased sexual aggression, which increased the risk of sexual activities among the gay.
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A wide range of interventions have been developed to enable methamphetamine users to overcome the effects of this drug both in the short and long term. Many short term interventions border on pharmacological methods, including restoration of blood flow to the affected brain parts, the heart or the organs. Modafinil, according to Halkitis, Levy, Moreira and Ferrusi (2014), is often administered to manage the fatigue among the HIV infected individuals who are addicted to methamphetamine.
On the other hand, behavioral interventions have been identified to have dramatic effects on methamphetamine users. The most commonly used behavioral intervention is contingency management, which shapes the behavioral change process through providing immediate reinforcements to produce the desired change. Many clinical practitioners adopt the Ask, Assess, Advise, Assist and Arrange methodology in administering any form of treatment to the methamphetamine patients.
From this paper, methamphetamine is defined as a stimulant drug that works by stimulating the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. This discussion looks at the prevalence of methamphetamine use in the US, and the factors that are linked to the high prevalence of this drug among the gay community. With the existing bulk of literature on the components of methamphetamine and its effects, it is necessary to direct more focus on developing special mechanisms to limit the possibility of these risks among the vulnerable populations, including the gay community.
- Halkitis, P., Levy, M., Moreira, A., & Ferrusi, C. (2014). Crystal Methamphetamine Use and HIV Transmission Among Gay and Bisexual Men. Current Addiction Reports, 1(3), 206-213. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40429-014-0023-x
- Marshall, B., & Werb, D. (2010). Health outcomes associated with methamphetamine use among young people: a systematic review. Addiction, 105(6), 991-1002. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.02932.x
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2018). Methamphetamine. Drugabuse.gov. Retrieved 9 February 2018, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
- Reback, C., Shoptaw, S., & Grella, C. (2008). Methamphetamine Use Trends among Street-Recruited Gay and Bisexual Males, from 1999 to 2007. Journal Of Urban Health, 85(6), 874-879. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11524-008-9326-3
- Theodore, P., Achiro, R., Duran, R., & Antoni, M. (2011). Body Dissatisfaction and Methamphetamine Use Among HIV-Positive Gay and Bisexual Men: A Pilot Study. Substance Use & Misuse, 46(14), 1745-1749. http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/10826084.2011.618998