meth - May 18, 2006 Drugs, Politics, and Culture: Final...

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May 18, 2006 Drugs, Politics, and Culture: Final Paper Methamphetamine: Dangerous Drug Craze and Toxic Pollutant According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, methamphetamine is the most prevalent synthetic drug on the streets of America today (McEwan 2003). It creates an intensely pleasurable and relatively long-lasting high, making it attractive to addicts. Methamphetamine, also called meth, crystal meth, speed, ice, and several other street names, can be manufactured cheaply through easily-obtained, store-bought materials, which makes it a popular drug to be synthesized by those with no knowledge of or experience with chemicals. As a result, meth labs have surfaced all over the United States. Though they are currently more concentrated in the western part of the country, especially California, they are quickly spreading to encompass even the eastern half (National Institute on Drug Abuse 2006). The consequences of the spread of meth labs are dire, not only because of the drug’s unpleasant effects on its users, but because of the environmental hazards (natural and human) of every methamphetamine lab. This paper will discuss background on methamphetamine and the labs where it is produced; the hazards surrounding its production; and finally the cleanup of existing labs and the prevention of new labs. Methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug, which means that it has high potential for abuse, has few medical uses (it is sometimes prescribed for narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder, and on occasion obesity), and is available only through a non-refillable prescription. When taken recreationally, it is generally ingested, sniffed, smoked, or injected, with ingestion having the least potent effects and injection having the most. Chemically, meth stimulates an excessive
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2 release of dopamine in the brain, creating a high for its user that lasts several hours and is followed by an agitated state that can sometimes lead to violent behavior. Prolonged use has numerous negative medical effects (National Institute on Drug Abuse 2006). In the short term, meth causes a rush (extreme euphoria), followed by a high which lasts several hours. Users usually encounter increased wakefulness, a higher level of physical activity, and decreased appetite (hence methamphetamine’s occasional prescription as an anti-obesity drug). People who are using meth often feel an increased sense of well-being (National Institute on Drug Abuse 2006). Users may binge on meth to try to prolong the euphoria that they experience in the first few minutes of administering the drug, often suffering from serious effects. High doses of meth can elevate the body temperature to dangerous levels and cause convulsions, as well as damage nerve terminals in dopamine-containing regions of the brain. Other negative effects of meth use in the short term include general irritability, anxiety, and apprehension (O’Dea 1997), and meth also destroys tooth enamel, giving users “meth-mouth” (Jefferson 2005). Users who continue to use meth for long periods of time experience addiction. Since they
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course ARCH 4.401 taught by Professor Utemetabauer during the Fall '06 term at MIT.

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meth - May 18, 2006 Drugs, Politics, and Culture: Final...

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