Evidence to suggest methamphetamine use has a powerfully negative affect on psychologcal health


First use of methamphetamine was reported in 1919 in Japan and just one year later in 1920 in Europe. In the 1930’s the use of methamphetamine increased significantly in Europe. In 1938, a German Pharmacological company located in Berlin started producing methamphetamine under the name of “Pervitin”. In World War II methamphetamine was distributed between German soldiers and the rest of general population. The German military referred to it a “Pilots chocolate”.

In 1940, methamphetamine changed its name to “Methedrine” or “desoxyephedrine” and it also changed its function. Its use was started to treat psychological illnesses such as neurosis, depression and hypotension. By the mid 1900’s the ill-effects of the drug also became evident. In 1961 the British Medical Association recommended that the drug should be used with caution. They further went on to state that prescription of the medication should be limited only to the conditions where no reasonable alternative exists.

Methamphetamine is a versatile substance in the sense that can be consumed orally, smoked or injected. In our modern world the widespread and extensive use of the drug has increased and is greater than before. There has been a growing concern with the problem of methamphetamine abuse in society. The drug become easily available on the drug market and popularity of the drug become major concern.

Over the years the side effects of the drug have become increasingly evident and methamphetamine use has been associated with a number of negative psychological conditions.  Methamphetamine users often demonstrate numerous behaviour changes. Addicted individuals are often violent, in public situation start acting out of the ordinary and can display extremely anxious behaviour is frequently confused and unable to sleep. Psychosis delusions and hallucination very common as an effect of this drug as well.

Psychotic features can be really strong and convincing for methamphetamine users that can create out of control anger and can lead to suicidal of the addict .

These negative behavioural and psychological changes can continue for years even if drug use is discontinued.

Methamphetamine abuse has led to many issues in society and even death in some cases. According to Zweben (2004), methamphetamine use is connected with psychopathology which consists of depression, psychosis, mood and anxiety disorder, violent behaviour and cognitive deficits.

One of the most common side effects of methamphetamine use is related to depression which can in-turn lead to suicide attempts. Depression among methamphetamine users can be better understood from a research conducted by Zwebden. Zweben (2004) in his study with one of the biggest samples of the methamphetamine users (N=1,016) examined the psychiatric symptoms and found that depression symptoms were frequently found among methamphetamine users. Specifically 68% of women and 50% of men reported feeling depressed at some point of their lives and 28%of the woman and 13% of men reported at least one suicide attempt. Another research by Clatts, Goldsamt and Yi (2005) shows the high rates of prior suicide attempts (34%) and clinically significant depressive symptoms in over half (58%) of all users.

Additional studies have shown further correlation between depression and methamphetamine addiction. Studies have shown that depression can be a major contributing factor for methamphetamine addiction and the risk of long term addiction is higher for those suffering from depression. In his research, Grant (1995) found evidence which suggests that the lifetime risk of dependence to methamphetamine was 6.19 times more likely for an individual with major depression than between those without major depression.  At the same time, the rate and risk of depression and attempted suicide is also seen to be higher in methamphetamine users than the general population. The higher level of depression is usually associated with the long time use and injection of the drug. The negative powerful effects of methamphetamine use have an impact on the psychological health of the user to the point that the addict wanted to attempt suicide. Semple (2005) found that methamphetamine users meet all conditions for minor to critical depression and the longer they use the bigger and higher the level of depression symptoms they have.

At the same time it is also important to note that the social and health problems of the methamphetamine users do not directly contribute to depression whereas the taboo and stigma associated with its use can affect users which can lead to an increase in depressive symptoms. All these factors are part and the cause of the development of depression in methamphetamine users.

General problems associated with addiction can also be found with MA users such as the problem of isolation.  It is common for methamphetamine users to start isolating themselves from their surroundings. This is mainly found in long time methamphetamine use. The isolation plays a positive role in the development of depression. The lack of connection with surroundings is one of the risk factors for the depression.(Costello 1982).

Many of these researches indicate that methamphetamine users are more prone to be depressed and more vulnerable to other psychological conditions as psychosis hallucination and delusions. Psychostimulant users have higher level of psychosis and hallucination than opiate users. The higher level of psychosis is associated with long time use and has higher risk of psychotic symptom, mania or other disorders.  This is sometimes referred to as “Speed psychosis” among users.

Hallucinations can appear as sound and vision and can be observed usually in the auditory or visual senses. Psychosis in the methamphetamine user can also go hand in hand with unstable emotional condition and aggressive behaviour. Psychosis can last up to hours to days. In severe cases the individual may require urgent medical attention or even hospitalisation.

Another symptom associated long term methamphetamine use is paranoia. The delusion and hallucination in methamphetamine users can sometimes manifest itself as a strong belief that people are in conspiracy against him. Addicted individuals can sometimes hear and see things which are not present in reality. Sometimes the psychosis or hallucination can activate aggressive behaviour which is a result of psychostimulant abuse.

Furthermore according to McKetin (2006), long time use of methamphetamine can trigger aggressive behaviour in the addict. Strongly intoxicated individuals can cause arguments in social situations which can in-turn set off violate behaviour.

Hall in 1996 found in his study that half of methamphetamine users show violent behaviour which increases from time they start using the drug. Those individuals with a problem of aggression can react with violent behaviour because of the drug use. Zweben(2004)  found that 43% of methamphetamine users have a problem with aggression. McKetin (2006) reported in his finding 12% of the addicts have committed crime in the previous year. Sommers (2006) found that a third of methamphetamine users have assaulted someone while being intoxicated.

In addition to the already-documented physical effects of the drug, preliminary evidence suggests that methamphetamine dependence may also cause long-term neuronal damage.

Many powerful negative effects of methamphetamine use on psychological health and functioning have been highlighted in this report. Research in this field is widespread and ongoing. From time to time, new findings have only further supported this supposition.

The society is in general more aware of the drawbacks and side effects of methamphetamine use. However at the same time, methamphetamine use has not declined and its popularity has continued to grow. Methamphetamine abuse continues to be a major concern for our society. We have come a long way since 1920 when the drug was first released. Today, its negative effects are accepted universally and it is recognised as a major drug problem. Major strides have been also been taken towards the management of methamphetamine abuse and dependence.

Reference:

  1. Clatts, M. C., Goldsamt, L. A., & Yi, H. (2005). Club drug use among young men who have sex with men in NYC: A preliminary epidemiological profile. Substance Use & Misuse, 40(9), 1317–1330.
  1. Costello, C. G. (1982). Social factors associated with depression: A retrospective community study. Psychological Medicine, 12(2), 329–339.
  1. Grant, B. F. (1995). Comorbidity between DSM–IV drug use disorders and major depression: Results of a national survey of adults. Journal of Substance Abuse, 7(4), 481–497.
  1. Hall, W., Hando, J., Darke, S., & Ross, J. (1996). Psychological morbidity and route of administration among amphetamine users in Sydney, Australia. Addiction, 91(1), 81–87.
  1. McKetin R, McLaren J, Kelly E. , (2005)  The Sydney methamphetamine market: patterns of supply, use, personal harms and social consequences. National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund Monograph no. 13. Adelaide: Australasian Centre for Policing Studies
  1. Sommers, I., & Baskin, D. R. (2006). Methamphetamine use and violence Journal of Drug Issues, 36(1), 77–97.
  1. Zweben JE, Cohen JB, Christian D (2004) , et al. Psychiatric symptoms in methamphetamine users Am J Addict; 13:81 – 90.
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