Tag: Meth

Methamphetamine Facts to Know

Meth Facts LighthouseGet the Methamphetamine Facts!

Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, is an extremely addictive stimulant that is widely abused because of the immediate, intense euphoria that it produces. Meth can be taken in a variety of ways – orally, smoked, injected, just to name a few – and is so addictive because the intense high is short and the low that users hit after using pushes them to seek more, which leads to taking repeat doses.

Methamphetamine Facts: How Does It Affect the Brain?

Methamphetamine directly affects dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that functions as a neurotransmitter. It is known as the “reward molecule”, meaning that it is responsible for reward-driven behavior and pleasure seeking. Every type of reward and pleasure seeking behavior increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain. Meaning, food, sex, good music, and other feel-good activities all affect dopamine. Unfortunately, so do super-destructive drugs like meth.

Meth releases dopamine rapidly into the brain and produces euphoria, and repeated use can easily lead to addiction, which is characterized by compulsively seeking more drugs and stopping at nothing to get them.Methamphetamine Facts

Long-term, meth can cause anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Psychosis can also occur, causing hallucinations and delusions. Chronic use can cause chemical changes in the brain affecting emotion and memory, something people may not regain fully even once they quit using.

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Methamphetamine Facts: How Does It Affect the Body?

Meth creates a fake sense of well-being and energy, which in turn causes users to push their bodies much harder than one normally would. The drug also decreases appetite drastically, leading to malnutrition, dangerous weight loss, and nausea. Other pitfalls of meth include but are not limited to insomnia, disturbed sleep, aggressiveness, irritability, convulsions, paranoia, all leading up to and including death.

Long-term, using meth can cause harm that cannot be reversed. Heart damage can result from the increased heart rate and blood pressure the drug causes, along with damaging blood vessels in the brain that can cause strokes. Cardiovascular collapse or death, liver, kidney, and lung damage have all been seen in long-term meth users.

Aesthetically, meth users tend to look like the walking dead. Between the malnutrition, sunken cheeks, hollowed eyes, open sores, and decaying teeth – over the course of just a year a meth user can look like they’re aged 40 years.

The methamphetamine facts are there – this drug does a ton of harm to a person, physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. If you or someone you know is using meth, seek help immediately before any of the irreversible damage takes hold, and get your life on the right track.

 

10 Fascinating Methamphetamine Facts

The Truth About Meth Addiction

What most people know of meth is what they learned from Breaking Bad, or from some of the lesser couth episodes of Cops. Meth is something for the lower class; for those who live in trailers and can’t keep jobs and certainly never went to college. Meth makes you crazy and rots your teeth straight out of your head. As it so turns out, meth use is just as non-discriminatory as drinking and smoking pot – more than 11 million American citizens have used methamphetamine more than once. In recent years, the rates of national methamphetamine use have climbed significantly. Up until recently, the rate of Americans who engage in regular meth use has consistently fallen somewhere between 0.2 and 0.3 percent since the late 1990s. However, over the course of the past several years, the rates of meth use have begun to steadily climb. Still, the majority of Americans know very little about the deadly drug. Knowledge is power, thus we have collected a list of interesting and informational methamphetamine facts to help better inform you and your loved ones. Read away!

Methamphetamine Facts

  1. Contrary to popular belief, meth is not ‘instantly addictive’.

While meth is highly addictive, it is not always addictive with one-time use. Those who are not predisposed to addictive behaviors may experiment with meth occasionally and never become chemically dependent. However, the risk certainly outweighs the reward. Very few can use methamphetamine with impunity.

  1. Meth is available as a prescription medication.

Desoxyn, a pharmaceutical brand of methamphetamine, is prescribed (on rare occasion) to treat narcolepsy, ADHD, and obesity. Of course, pharmaceutical amphetamine is still widely available (most notably under the brand name Adderall). Prescription drugs such as these can serve as gateways to true meth use.

  1. Methamphetamine is easy to make – especially compared to other drugs.

The reason why so much of the meth currently in circulation throughout the US was manufactured here and not trafficked over state lines is simply that meth is pretty easy to whip up. This is why the rates of lab seizures have increased so dramatically over the course of the past several years.

  1. Amphetamine use is common amongst athletes.

Many athletes – professional and otherwise – will use amphetamine to help them perform better during events. Occasional use can quickly lead to addiction.

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  1. Meth can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected.

Methamphetamine can be consumed in a variety of methods; though intravenous use always tends to pose the highest threat. The high usually lasts from between 8 and 10 hours regardless of the method of consumption.

  1. Meth use is especially prevalent throughout the gay community.

Gay men will use meth to stay awake and engage in sexual activity for prolonged lengths of time. Meth use has gained rampant popularity throughout the gay community, and the rates of addiction amongst middle-aged gay males has increased significantly over the course of the past several years.

  1. Regulating pseudoephedrine hasn’t made a major impact.

Regulating the sales of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine (a key ingredient in meth manufacturing) has made some impact on the prevalence of home cook labs – but it has not made as major an impact as the government would like to have us think. Pseudoephedrine is still being transported over the border in bulk.

  1. Most meth addicts don’t look like… meth addicts.

Not all meth addicts have sunken-in eyes, missing teeth, and sores covering their faces and arms. Many meth addicts look just like you and me. Never judge a book by its cover!

  1. Meth addicts typically become addicted to other drugs while attempting to get some sleep.

Many meth addicts will turn to hardcore tranquilizers after a particularly brutal meth binge, in hopes of catching a few winks before picking up again. This will sometimes cause unintentional dual addictions.

  1. Prolonged meth use can lead to permanent psychosis.

There are many long-term consequences of meth use – including permanent brain damage. And neurological issues take effect much more rapidly than they do in those who suffer from alcoholism or marijuana addiction. Permanent consequences resulting from compulsive meth use can take hold in a matter of months.

Get Help for Meth Addiction

Meth addiction is extremely serious – and far more common than you may think. For more information on meth addiction or for a comprehensive list of methamphetamine treatment options, please contact one of our trained representatives today.

The Indiana Meth Crisis

The Indiana Meth Crisis

Indiana was recently deemed the ‘Meth Capital of the United States’ – a title that is far less desirable than essentially any other. In 2013, Indiana reigned over all other states as far as the amount of meth lab busts – totaling in at a whopping 1,808 at the end of the fiscal year. Other states with high meth lab bust rates include Tennessee with 1,616, Missouri with 1,496, Ohio with 1,010, and Illinois with 673. While methamphetamine abuse has recently taken a backseat to opioid abuse as far as media attention goes, the meth issue in Indiana is not going away anytime soon. While crystal meth (imported from Mexico, predominantly), still causes major issues across the country (especially in bordering states such as California), the vast majority of meth in circulation throughout Indiana is manufactured within state lines. The state of Indiana has, to say the least, a massive meth crisis. Meth Crisis

The Meth Crisis in Indiana

Several Indiana state legislatures believe that making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug would greatly decrease the amount of home cook laboratories throughout the state. Pseudoephedrine, an active ingredient in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, can be currently purchased at most drug stores as an over-the-counter nasal decongestant. Many local government officials continuously address the fact that it is not only the users and the sellers that are being harshly affected by rampant meth abuse and manufacturing. Over 300 children were identified during meth lab busts in 2013 alone. Communities are being affected – meth has become a corroding thread throughout the lives of the vast majority of Indiana residents. Contamination due to home cook labs has been causing major issues for homeowners in residential neighborhoods, as well as for real estate agents and law enforcement officers.

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Number of Meth Lab Busts Continues to Rise in Indiana

Because the number of meth lab incidents continues to climb throughout Indiana on an annual basis (there were a total of 1,797 recorded incidents in 2014 – a number accounting for 15.5% of the total meth lab busts nationwide), local government officials are being forced to implement a wide range of preventative and regulatory laws to protect citizens and potentially hinder such devastatingly widespread use. A new state law went into effect in early July of 2014, requiring real estate agents to disclose to potential buyers whether or not the house they are looking to buy was previously utilized to cook methamphetamine. If an individual is exposed to meth lab contaminants, even after the house has been thoroughly cleaned, he or she is liable to develop significant respiratory issues (as well as a host of other potential health problems). Toxic organic compounds and chemical residue can contaminate the flooring and walls of the house for years after the meth lab has removed. For a comprehensive list of clandestine labs, take a look at meth.in.gov.

Help for Meth Addiction is Available

Meth has become a major area of concern in Indiana – and the severe consequences of meth use extend far beyond the users themselves. If you or someone you know has been struggling with meth addiction, help is available. Please contact one of our trained representatives today for a comprehensive list of treatment options in your immediate area. And for more information on meth lab contamination, please read our article, “Meth Lab Contamination”.

Can I Overdose on Crystal Meth?

The rates of crystal meth abuse have steadily been climbing throughout the country over the course of the past several years. Crystal meth is typically smoked, snorted, or injected directly into the bloodstream. Overdose can result from any method of consumption, contrary to popular belief. Many individuals who use crystal meth regularly believe that they are safe from overdose so long as they avoid intravenous use – unfortunately, this is not the case, though overdose is the most prevalent amongst intravenous users. First-time users who are injecting the drug are at higher risk for overdose than any other crystal meth users, seeing as they have developed no tolerance to the substance whatsoever and will typically inject more than their bodies are able to tolerate.

Is It Possible to Overdose on Crystal Meth?

Because crystal meth is rarely sold in its pure form, the likelihood that overdose occurs as a result of an adverse reaction to a chemical it is cut with is exceptionally high. There is no way to determine the purity-level of a drug before a user consumes it, thus crystal meth users are constantly putting themselves at risk. Even non-lethal dosages have the potential to kill for this very reason. It is sometimes difficult to detect the signs and symptoms of crystal meth overdose in others, especially because visual symptoms of overdose lack, and it is frequently difficult to differentiate between the behavioral signs of overdose and the expected ‘high’.

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If you believe you or someone close to you is experiencing a crystal meth overdose, look for the following symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Confusion
    Restlessness
  • High fever
  • Impaired vision (spots in the field of vision)
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Chest pain
  • Intense muscle pain and cramping
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coma

Clearly, overdosing on crystal meth is entirely possible, and it can quickly lead to fatality if not adequately and immediately treated. Those who engage in regular crystal meth use are liable to overdose at any time, regardless of their method of consumption or the presumed purity levels of the substance they are using. If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to crystal meth, it is crucial to seek professional help immediately. Addiction is a progressive disease, and due to the highly addictive nature of this specific chemical substance, rapid physical deterioration is common and especially devastating. For more information on crystal meth abuse and overdose, please contact one of our trained representatives today.

Have Changing Marijuana Laws Led to an Increase in Heroin & Meth Smuggling?

The Unexpected Result of Relaxing Marijuana Laws

In a sentence I never expected to write – the US’s changing attitude towards marijuana has led to a decrease in Mexican pot smuggling and a large increase in heroin and meth smuggling.

As more and more states decriminalize marijuana, legalize it for medical use, and even legalize it for recreational use…Mexican drug cartels are losing vast amount of money. Their cheaply grown, low potency pot just can’t compete with its genetically engineered and meticulously grown US counterpart.

In fact, Raul Benitez-Manaut, a professor and researcher from the National Autonomous University in Mexico, had the following to say about this strange shift,

“Legalization of marijuana for recreational use has given U.S. consumers access to high-quality marijuana, with genetically improved strains, grown in greenhouses…That’s why the Mexican cartels are switching to heroin and meth” (The Washington Post).

Join us on an exploration of this new phenomenon and what it means for American anti-drug efforts.

Learn more about the increase in Mexican produced meth

A Drastic Increase in Heroin & Meth Seizures

What exactly is happening at our shared border with Mexico? Well, according to the Post, seizures of both heroin and meth are way up. Marijuana arrests, on the other hand, are way down:

    • Since 2011, there’s been a 37% decrease in the amount of marijuana intercepted by federal, state, and local border officers.

 

    • There were 2,181 kilograms of heroin seized along the border in 2014.

 

    • While the majority of this heroin was of the “black tar” variety, some was white. This is higher quality heroin which can be snorted or smoked instead of injected.

 

    • There were 15,803 kilograms of meth seized along the border in 2014. This is a huge increase from the 3,076 seized in 2009.

 

    • The DEA estimates that 90% of all US consumed meth is manufactured in Mexico.

 

    • There’s also been a sharp decrease in the amount of cocaine intercepted along the border. There were 11,917 kilograms seized in 2014, down from over 27,000 kilograms seized in 2011.

 

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This is all a long way of telling a short story – as drug cartels in Central and South America lose their marijuana business to US growers, they’ve started to double down on smuggling both heroin and meth.

With our country currently in the grips of a heroin epidemic, and meth ever increasing in popularity, this seems like a strategic move by the cartel. It also seems like it’s working to increase the their bottom line.

What Can We Do?

There’s no easy answer to this question. While, on the one hand, it’s certainly a good thing that the production and distribution of marijuana is being taken away from illegal drug gangs – it’s a very bad thing if they’re replacing lost profits by increasing heroin and methamphetamine production.

One answer may be to take some of the same ideas currently being used for marijuana and apply them to heroin and meth. Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t think we should legalize either drug. Still, some government regulation would take the power away from the cartels.

marijuana laws have led to increased meth smuggling

While this is a dangerous road to walk, and one that’s no doubt unpopular among the majority of Americans, it is worth considering. Think about it like this – if the cartels are already hurting from lost marijuana profit, imagine how much they’d hurt if they lost heroin and meth money.

Money is the lifeblood of these criminal organizations. Take away the money and you take away much of their power. Seems like something worth exploring at the very least, right?

As for the here and now – as for today – we can only hope that most of the drugs being smuggled are also intercepted at the border.

Why are certain pharmaceutical companies trying to keep marijuana illegal?

What to Do After a Relapse on Drugs and Alcohol

Relapse Isn’t the End of the World!

signs of a drug relapse

There’s a saying in the rooms of recovery that goes a little something like “relapse is a part of recovery.” While I don’t love this saying – it oversimplifies the problem and solution – it’s often true.

Take it from me, a chronic relapser, that relapsing on drugs and alcohol after a period of sobriety is common. I started trying to get sober at eighteen years old. It took me a few years to get the hang of not picking up a drink or drug. In that time, I suffered a heroin relapse, a meth relapse, an alcohol relapse, and a pill relapse.

Today, I’ve been sober for over seven years. Still, that time was hard won and didn’t come without its fair share of struggle. With that in mind, I’ve set out to write the definitive guide to relapse and recovery.

Find information below on the signs of relapse on some specific drugs, as well as information on what to do after a relapse.

The signs are for family members wondering if their loved one is really sober. The steps to take after a relapse are for my people – addicts and alcoholics – who’re still struggling. God bless us!

The most important thing to remember about relapse and recovery is that relapse isn’t the end of the world. It has the power to destroy families, friendships, and take lives, but it’s only as powerful as we make it.

If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to call Lighthouse today! Many of our staff are in long-term recovery and can share their experience, strength, and hope about relapse with you. Remember, by sharing we cut the problem in half!

If you have a loved one in recovery who may be slipping, read on for vital information about how to be sure. If you’re an addict struggling with a heroin or meth relapse, or an alcoholic struggling with picking up a drink, read on for hope!

Heroin addiction is tough – you’re recovery better be tougher!

Signs of a Relapse

It’s important to point out that the following relapse signs aren’t the same for everyone. How I reacted to drugging and boozing after being in recovery may not be the same as how your loved one reacts.

With that being said, find common signs of a heroin relapse, and others, below:

Heroin Relapse

what to do after a heroin relapse

The most obvious signs of relapsing on heroin are nodding off, pinned pupils, excessive scratching, track marks, and possession of paraphernalia like needles and “cookers.”

Nodding off is when someone falls into short periods of unconsciousness. It’s called nodding off because they’ll start to slump over and suddenly jerk awake. They’ll do this again and again.

Pinned pupils are when someone’s pupils are tiny. They look like pinpricks. All opioids – from codeine to oxycodone to Vicodin to heroin – will make someone’s pupils small. Think the opposite of what happens when smoking marijuana.

Excessive scratching doesn’t always indicate a relapse, but it is a common side effect of heroin. Again, all opioids, including heroin, make users incredibly itchy. I don’t know why, but they do. If your loved one suddenly can’t stop scratching themselves, well, it may be time to take a closer look.

Track marks are the puncture wounds and bruising around where someone injects heroin. They’re a sure sign of a heroin relapse. Not much else needs to be said.

Finding heroin or injection paraphernalia on your loved one is another sure sign of a heroin relapse. Trust me when I said that addicts are master manipulators and will try to talk themselves out of this one. Ignore them. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck.

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Cocaine & Meth Relapse

A cocaine or meth relapse can take many forms and have many telltale signs. There are also some glaring ones. These are things like not sleeping for extended periods of time, burns on your loved one’s lips, repetitive tics, paranoia, and possession of paraphernalia like meth/crack pipes and powder dusted keys.

This first coke or meth relapse sign, not sleeping for days, is the most obvious. Think of how TV and movies depict people strung out on stimulants – a crazy look in their sunken eyes, paranoid, spouting nonsense. That’s what happens when someone stays up for a few days. Cocaine, crack, and meth are the number one culprit for this kind of lack of sleep.

Your loved one may have burns on their lips and fingers if they’re smoking meth or crack. Both meth and crack pipes become incredibly hot as they’re used. Pair that with using again – and again and again – and it’s plain to see where the burns come from.

Repetitive tics are another common behavior displayed during a relapse on meth or coke. Again, think of the common portrayal of tweakers on TV. It has a firm basis in what actually happens when someone uses stimulants.

relapsing on meth and cocaine

Paranoia goes hand-in-hand with repetitive tics and not sleeping. The longer someone stays awake, the more they think others are onto them. The stranger someone behaves, the more they think others are talking about them. It’s sad but true.

Finally, possessing things like crack pipes and bags or keys with powder residue is a 100% confirmed sign of a relapse on meth. Much like relapsing on heroin, if someone has the paraphernalia, they’re getting high. It’s that simple. Your loved one may try to talk their way out of admitting the truth – don’t let them.

Struggling with meth? Don’t struggle alone!

Alcohol Relapse

what to do after starting to drink again

The signs of an alcohol relapse are often more subtle than the signs of a drug relapse. That’s because alcohol doesn’t have as sudden and profound an effect on users as heroin, cocaine, or other hard drugs do.

Still, things like smelling of booze, disappearing for periods of time, erratic behavior, and being unable to remember certain things are common signs of an alcohol relapse.

Smelling like alcohol is pretty self-explanatory. Alcoholics drink and their body metabolizes and emits alcohol. Then they smell like it. I always tried to say that I’d been with people who were drinking, or that someone had spilled a beer on me, when I smelled like booze.

Trust me – that never happened. I was drunk. Plain and simple.

Disappearing for periods of time, being unable to remember events or people, and behaving erratically are other fairly obvious signs of a relapse on alcohol. That’s all thanks to blackouts and the strange stuff us alcoholics get into when we’re drinking.

If your loved one has started to go missing for a few hours, or even days, and they have a history of alcohol abuse, they’re drinking. If they can’t remember what they did last night, or you get a phone call saying they were standing in the street yelling, they’re drinking.

It stinks, but it’s the truth.

Learn about the best alcohol rehab in Florida!

General Drug and Alcohol Relapse

As far as general drug and alcohol relapse signs go – those are a bit more, well, general. Things like lying, losing or missing money, shady behavior, and hanging out with old using friends are all common signs of a relapse.

There’s not much more that needs to be said about this type of slip. If you have a loved one who’s been in recovery, or been trying to get sober, and they start exhibiting old behavior – they’re probably drinking or using.

slips in sobriety

If that’s the case, reach out for professional help! Call a drug and alcohol relapse hotline. Call an addiction specialist. Call a treatment center. Call the police. Call a friend or family member who’s been through the same situation.

These are all proactive steps to take that will minimize the impact of your loved one’s relapse on your emotional health.

Having looked at some of the more common relapse signs, let’s turn our attention to what us addicts and alcoholics can do after we’ve relapsed.

What to Do After a Relapse

Remember what I said at the start of this guide? Relapse and recovery are a very real deal for most addicts and alcoholics. We don’t get better overnight and, in many cases, it takes us multiple times to finally “get” sobriety.

So, what do we do after we’ve picked up a drug or a drink? What do we do after we’ve relapsed?

The answer’s actually very simple. We get our butts to a meeting. We call our sponsor, our sober supports, our therapist, and our close friends and tell them what’s going on. If the situation warrants, we tell our family or significant other.

getting sober again

In other words, we ask for help!

That’s the simplest, and also hardest, thing to do after relapsing. That’s because although it’s simple to pick up and phone and tell the truth, it isn’t easy at all.

Addiction and alcoholism are rife with guilt and shame. Nowhere do these two monsters rear their ugly heads more than after we have a slip. That’s just how our brains and emotions work.

We need to walk through this guilt and shame. We need to do the right thing no matter how difficult it is. We need to own up and start over in recovery again.

If you’re like me – an addict and alcohol through and through – doing this feels impossible. It’s not, trust me. Still, getting that initial spark, that initial push, can be difficult.

With that in mind, call Lighthouse today. Most of our addiction specialists are in long-term recovery themselves. They’ll be able to guide you through the process of recovering from a relapse. If you need treatment, they’ll be able to get you into our doors, safe and secure, today!

More than anything else, they’ll be able to listen and understand what you’re going through. They’ve been there and come out on the other side happy and healthy. What more can you ask?

Learn about Comprehensive Addiction Treatment & how it sets patients up for long-term sobriety!

Dangerous Mexican Meth on the Rise in the US

A Disturbing New Trend

It isn’t blue like the famous crystals from Breaking Bad, but Americans are consuming more and more Mexican produced meth. This potent and dangerous form of meth is gaining a foothold in the United States and we should be worried.

foreign made meth
image via Wikimedia Commons

Why? Because Arizona and California border officials have seized more meth so far this year than they did during all of 2014. They’ve seized more meth in six months than they did in twelve. That’s a massive spike in both consumption and production.

Not to mention, that’s only the methamphetamine that’s been found. According to a former Armed Services Commander, we’re unable to pursue 74% of suspected marine drug trafficking. If we’re only able to seize 26% of all smuggled meth…imagine what’s getting through our borders.

Although Mexican produced meth is nothing new, the drastic spike over the last several years has officials worrying. This increase in cheaply produced and incredibly potent meth (more on that below) also coincides with an increase in Mexican based heroin smuggling.

Yeah, it’s time for concern alright. More and more drugs are coming across US borders. These drugs are cheaper to produce, which leads to lower street prices, and more powerful than in past years. Something needs to be done and quick.

Marcia Armendariz, a DEA spokeswoman, had the following to say about Mexican produced and smuggled meth and America’s demand for it,

“We started noticing the increase with meth in fiscal year 2014, so we noticed an increment on crystal meth and obviously it all starts from the demand, you know. They’re [U.S. citizens] demanding this drug” (AZ Central).

Which old medication is now being used to treat meth addiction?

New Statistics on Meth Trafficking

The following is the latest information US officials have about meth smuggling via the Mexican border –

  • In California, authorities seized 9,431 pounds of meth during the seven month period between October 2014 and April 2015.

 

  • In all of fiscal year 2014, authorities only seized 14,732 pounds of smuggled meth in California. If fiscal year 2015’s numbers continue, significantly more meth will be seized this year than last.

 

  • Meanwhile, in Arizona, authorities seized more than 3,200 pounds of smuggled meth between October 2014 and May 2015.

 

  • Compare that to the 3,200 pounds of meth seized in Arizona during all of fiscal year 2014.

 

  • Mexican smugglers are becoming increasingly creative in their approach to crossing the border with drugs. There are reports of meth molded into underwear, dissolved into liquid and placed in gas tanks, and other bizarre tactics.

 

  • Meanwhile, on our side of the border, meth production has substantially decreased. There were more than 15,000 seizures of meth labs and tertiary equipment in 2010. That number had decreased to just over 9,200 by 2014.

 

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Dangerous Mexican Meth

Let’s take a moment here and examine the actual methamphetamine itself. Not only is more of this chemical being smuggled into the US, but it’s stronger and more dangerous than ever before.

The first result of meth “cooking” being exported to south of the border has been the scale. Where most meth labs found in the United States are small scale, it’s a whole different story in Mexico.

meth labs
small US lab cleanup via Wikimedia Commons

Mexican cartels operate industrial sized super labs. Returning again to Breaking Bad, think of these super labs as similar to the one depicted in the show. Cartels are using laboratory grade equipment and chemicals to crank out meth on an incredibly large scale.

This leads to the second major impact Mexican produced meth has had on the US market – falling prices. A pound of American made crystal meth costs in the ballpark of $25,000 to $30,000. A pound of Mexican meth costs between $8,000 and $10,000.

That’s a significant decrease in price. This allows drug gangs and dealers to increase their profits, decrease their street level prices (gaining new customers), and gives them further incentive to buy foreign meth. In this sense, the deportation of America’s methamphetamine trade is no different from, say, the clothing industry.

Finally, this new and powerful Mexican meth is dangerous because it’s stronger and more addicting than anything previously made. Think about it – a more powerful drug is being sold for cheaper. That’s just about the perfect storm when it comes to national drug trends.

It’s no wonder meth seizures have increased so dramatically. Not only is the supply increasing, but the demand is through the roof.

True or false: meth withdrawal exists?

What’s the Answer?

Cheaply produced Mexican meth is flooding our streets. There’s more demand and more supply. What can we do to reduce both and fight meth use across America?

Well, the answer is as simple and as complicated as cutting the demand side of the equation. If there’s less demand, if Americans use meth less frequently, than the supply will also dwindle and we’ll see some real change.

That was the simple part. Now for the complicated – how do we reduce demand? How do we decrease America’s meth consumption?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for that question. It’s a complicated equation that will require things like increasing youth education and outreach, increasing access to quality and affordable addiction treatment, increasing healthcare services for common medical issues associated with meth use (HIV screening, etc.), and decreasing the stigma associated with meth.

That’s a lot! To implement all those changes will take years, decades perhaps, and lots of money. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s possible! A nationwide “recovery” from our collective meth addiction is possible and, in some areas, already underway.

That’s something we can all be excited about.

Atheist Sues & is Awarded $2 Million for Going to Rehab?!

California Atheist Sues & is Awarded Almost $2 Million from State & Treatment Organization

barry hazle jr

A California man recently settled out of court, with the state of California and a nonprofit treatment organization, for $1.95 million.

If you think that’s a pretty bizarre headline, well, it comes from an even stranger story. Barry Hazle Jr., the man who’s found himself suddenly in the limelight, isn’t your average rehab client. He isn’t your average convicted felon, either.

It all starts with his arrest for methamphetamine related charges.

Is Ritalin really “meth-lite?”

The Story Behind the Story

In 2006, Barry Hazle Jr. was sentenced to a year in prison for methamphetamine possession. He was released in 2007 and court mandated to attend a drug treatment program. This is where the controversy begins.

WestCare California is a treatment contractor that refers parolees to substance abuse programs. WestCare, at the urging of Hazle’s parolee officer, arranged for him to attend Empire Recovery Center. Empire is a twelve-step based, residential addiction treatment facility.

While at Empire, Hazle was introduced to the twelve-step model of recovery. This includes faith in a higher power, which Hazle balked at. According to Substance.com, he was told, “anything can be your higher power. Fake it ‘till you make it.

Hazle, a lifelong atheist, took offense to this idea. He refused to participate in treatment and was told Empire Recovery Center was the only WestCare certified program in Shasta county. Because of Hazle’s refusal to participate, and his “passive-aggressive” behavior, he was eventually sent back to jail for over three months.

Upon his second release, Hazle sued both the state of California and WestCare. After a mere six weeks, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation banned parole agents and contractors from offering strictly religious treatment options.

Fast forward to 2010, a U.S. district court ruled that Hazle’s religious freedom was, in fact, violated. However, the jury of the case didn’t award him any compensation. A 2013 ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined Hazle was entitled to compensation for the breach of his constitutional rights.

It’s worth noting that this ruling, from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, establishes the distinction between religious and non-religious treatment centers for the nine states and two Pacific island territories contained within the its bounds. To put it another way, residents of those states and territories now have a legal precedent for suing rehabs that infringe upon their religious freedoms.

That brings us to today. Hazle and his lawyer recently settled out of court with the state of California and WestCare. They agree to pay him the hefty sum of $1.95 million.

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Spirituality Isn’t Religion

While this is certainly an interesting story, why are we, a gender-specific treatment center far removed the 9th Circuit, writing about it? The answer’s simple – there’s been a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the courts.

Spirituality isn’t religion! It never has been and it never will be. Incorporating twelve-step principals into comprehensive addiction treatment doesn’t violate anyone’s religious freedom.

Asking clients to have faith in a non-denominational and non-religious source of hope and strength isn’t the same as asking them to join a religion.

I’ve researched Empire Recovery Center. They’re your run of the mill treatment center. Unless their clinical modality is different than what they publicly project, they don’t require anyone to subscribe to a particular religion.

The court’s ruling that spirituality equals religion isn’t only misguided, it infringes upon my rights. It infringes upon my right to believe in a higher power. It infringes upon my right to recovery. It infringes upon my right to sobriety.

Further Reading

A Report of the Court’s Decision in Shasta County’s local paper

An interesting take on this case and inmate rights from Vice News

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