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| Drugs Cocaine|
Cocaine is now top street drug
by Claire Connolly Doyle
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The average addict “self medicates” a physical, emotional, spiritual hurt with drugs he/she has not been able to deal with in a healthy manner.
70% of violent crime is committed by people who are intoxicated with either alcohol or drugs.
Reaction time for motor skills such as driving is reduced by 41% after smoking one marijuana joint and is reduced 63% after smoking two joints.
2.4 million individuals were classified with dependence or abuse of both alcohol and illicit drugs, 3.2 million were dependent or abused illicit drugs but not alcohol, and 11.0 million were dependent on or abused alcohol but not illicit drugs.
Methamphetamine abuse has three patterns: low intensity, binge, and high
intensity. Low-intensity abuse describes a user who is not psychologically
addicted to the drug but uses methamphetamine on a casual basis by swallowing
or snorting it. Binge and high-intensity abusers are psychologically addicted
and prefer to smoke or inject methamphetamine to achieve a faster and stronger
high. Binge abusers use methamphetamine more than low-intensity abusers but
less than high-intensity abusers.
Low-Intensity methamphetamine abuse
Low-intensity abusers swallow or snort methamphetamine, using it the same
way many people use caffeine or nicotine. Low-intensity abusers want the extra
stimulation the methamphetamine provides so that they can stay awake long
enough to finish a task or a job, or they want the appetite suppressant effect
to lose weight. These people frequently hold jobs, raise families, and otherwise
function normally. They may include people such as truck drivers trying to
reach their destination, workers trying to stay awake until the end of their
normal shift or an overtime shift, and housewives trying to keep a clean house
a well as be a perfect mother and wife.
Even though a law enforcement officer is not likely to encounter low-intensity
abusers, these individuals are one step away from becoming binge abusers.
They already know the stimulating effect that methamphetamine provides them
by swallowing or snorting the drug, but they have not experienced the euphoric
rush associated with smoking or injecting it and have not encountered clearly
defined stages of abuse. However, simple switching to smoking or injecting
methamphetamine offers the abusers a quick transition to a binge pattern of
Binge methamphetamine abuse
Binge abusers smoke or inject methamphetamine and experience euphoric rushes
that are psychologically addictive. The rush is the initial response the abuser
feels when smoking or injecting methamphetamine and is the aspect of the drug
that low-intensity abusers do not experience when snorting or swallowing the
drug. During the rush, the abuser's heartbeat races and metabolism, blood
pressure, and pulse sore. Meanwhile, the abuser can experience feelings equivalent
to ten orgasms. Unlike the rush associated with crack cocaine, which lasts
for approximately 2 - 5 minutes, the methamphetamine rush can continue for
The reason for the methamphetamine rush is that the drug, when smoked or injected,
triggers the adrenal gland to release a hormone called epinephrine (adrenaline),
which puts the body in a battle mode "fight or flight". In addition,
the physical sensation that the rush gives the abuser most likely results
from the explosive release of dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain.
High-The rush is followed by the high, sometimes called the shoulder. During
the high, the abuser often feels aggressively smarter and becomes argumentative,
often interrupting other people and finishing their sentences. The high can
last 4-16 hours.
Binge-The binge is the continuation of the high. The abuser maintains the
high by smoking or injecting more methamphetamine. Each time the abuser smokes
or injects more of the drug, a smaller euphoric rush than the initial rush
is experienced until, finally, there is no rush and no high. During the binge,
the abuser becomes hyperactive both mentally and physically. The binge can
last 3-15 days.
Tweaking-Tweaking occurs at the end of the binge when nothing the abuser does
will take away the feeling of emptiness and dysphoria, including taking more
methamphetamine. Tweaking is very uncomfortable, and the abuser often takes
a depressant to ease the bad feelings. The most popular depressant is alcohol,
with heroin a close second.
Tweaking is the most dangerous stage of the methamphetamine abuse cycle to
law enforcement officers and other individuals near the abuser. If the abuser
is using alcohol to ease the discomfort, the threat to law enforcement officers
intensifies. During this stage, law enforcement officers must clearly identify
the underlying dangers of the situation and avoid the assumption that the
tweaker is just a cocky drunk.
Crash-To a binge abuser, the crash means an incredible amount of sleep. The
body's epinephrine has been depleted, and the body uses the crash to replenish
its supply. Even the meanest, most violent abuser becomes almost lifeless
during the crash and poses a threat to no one. The crash can last 1-3 days.
Normal-After the crash, the abuser returns to normal. This is a state that
is slightly deteriorated from the normal state before he used methamphetamine.
This stage ordinarily lasts between 2 and 14 days. However, as the frequency
of binging increases, the duration of the normal stage decreases.
Withdrawal-No acute, immediate symptoms of physical distress are evident with
methamphetamine withdrawal (a stage that the abuser may slowly enter). Often
30-90 days must pass after the last drug use before the abuser realizes that
he is in withdrawal. First, without really noticing, the individual becomes
depressed and loses the ability to experience pleasure. The individual becomes
lethargic and has no energy. Then the craving for more methamphetamine hits,
and the abuser often becomes suicidal. If the abuser, however, takes more
methamphetamine at any point during the withdrawal, the unpleasant feelings
will end. Consequently, the success rate for traditional methamphetamine rehabilitation
is very low. Ninety-three percent of those in traditional treatment return
to abuse methamphetamine.
High-Intensity methamphetamine abuse
The high-intensity abusers are the addicts, often called speed freaks. Their
whole existence focuses on preventing the crash, and they seek that elusive,
perfect rush (the rush they had when they first started smoking or injecting
With high-intensity abusers, each successive rush becomes less euphoric, and
it takes more methamphetamine to achieve it. Each high is not quite as high
as the one before. During each subsequent binge, the abuser needs more methamphetamine,
more often, to get a high that is not as good as the high he wants or remembers.
Tweaking for the high-intensity abuser is still the most dangerous time to
confront him because tweakers are extremely unpredictable and short-tempered.
The crash is often spoken of in terms of I never sleep, or I sleep with one
eye open. In an attempt to appear normal, perhaps because of an appointment
with a doctor, lawyer, or court official, high-intensity abusers will make
themselves take short naps. Otherwise, they see no need to come down from
A methamphetamine abuser is most dangerous when tweaking. The fact that a
law enforcement officer is confronting the tweaker makes him more dangerous,
not just to the officer on the scene but also to anyone nearby. When tweaking,
the abuser has probably not slept in 3-15 days and consequently will be extremely
irritable. The tweaker craves more methamphetamine, but no dosage will help
re-create the euphoric high. The result is a strong feeling of uncontrollable
frustration that makes the tweaker unpredictable and dangerous.
If the law enforcement officer on the scene is unfamiliar with the physical
signs of a tweaker, the abuser can appear normal. In fact, unlike a person
intoxicated on alcohol with glassy eyes, slurred speech, and difficulty even
standing up, a tweaker appears super-exaggerated normal. The tweaker's eyes
are clear, his speech concise, and his movements brisk. With a closer look
at the tweaker, law enforcement officers will notice that his eyes are moving
about ten times faster than normal and may roll. He is talking in a quick,
often steady voice, with a slight quiver to it. His movements are quick and
jerky. The individual's movements are often exaggerated because he is overstimulated,
and his thinking is scattered and subject to paranoid delusions.
The tweaker does not need provocation to react violently. However, confrontation
increases the chance for a violent reaction. Law enforcement officers should
consider the potential for violence when determining that a suspect is tweaking.
For example, case histories indicate that tweakers react negatively to the
sight of a police uniform. Confrontation between the tweaker and law enforcement
often results in a verbal or physical assault on the officer.
Besides confrontation, nobody knows for certain what will trigger a tweaker
to be irrational and violent. A tweaker exists in his own world, seeing and
hearing things that no one else can perceive. His hallucinations are so vivid
that they seem real. What law enforcement officers say and do enter into the
abuser's altered reality, and if his paranoia is triggered, law enforcement
appears to be a threat to the tweaker's life. It is during tweaking that hostage
situations can easily occur. If the abuser feels cornered, with no means of
escape, the tweaker is likely to take a hostage. They often choose an associate,
a relative, or a police officer. In extreme cases, the tweaker may physically
assault the hostage.
If the tweaker has chosen to ease his discomfort with alcohol, he becomes
a disinhibited tweaker, making reasoning with him or even identifying him
as a tweaker more difficult. Physical signs of a tweaker become blurred to
an observer when the tweaker is using alcohol. Motor and speech functions,
for example, become impaired, but not to the degree of a person using only
alcohol. The rapid eye movement and the quick speech of a tweaker might actually
slow to an apparently normal speed. However, a tweaker using alcohol can be
identified in two ways:
1. First, individuals who can get close enough to see the tweaker's eyes should
look for a horizontal-gaze nistagmus. This phenomenon occurs when the methamphetamine
abuser, who is also using alcohol, looks out of the corner of his eyes and
the eyes jerk back and forth.
2. Second, if communication lines are open with the tweaker, ask the tweaker
if he is using methamphetamine and then inquire if he is also drinking alcohol.
If a strong smell of alcohol is present, but no signs of drunkenness exist,
one should err on the side of caution and approach the person as a tweaker
using alcohol rather than assume the person is harmless. Because tweakers
using alcohol are ordinarily not concerned with the consequences of their
actions, a situation can quickly lead to violence.
Are there any other problems that can occur from methamphetamine addiction?
Regarding domestic disputes, cities across the United States report increased
percentages of domestic violence incidents associated with methamphetamine
use. Domestic disputes, ordinarily regarded as dangerous situations for law
enforcement, become intensified when a tweaker is involved because of that
Many motor vehicle violations and accidents may also involve tweakers. Paranoid
and hallucinating, tweakers may decide to travel in their automobiles. Their
delusional state makes moving shapes and shadows appear threatening, and they
are very likely to increase their speed and exhibit erratic driving patterns
as they attempt to evade the images. An additional threat to society and themselves
may stem from a tweaker’s tendency to arm themselves for their personal safety.
Interviews with methamphetamine abusers have confirmed that these individuals
often maintain weapons in their automobiles, as well as in their residences.
Tweakers may also be present at raves or parties. In addition, to support
their habit, tweakers often participate in spur-of-the-moment crimes, such
as purse snatching, strong-arm robberies, assaults with a weapon, burglaries,
and thefts of motor vehicles.
Methamphetamine is readily available and is spreading rapidly across the United
States. Unlike the abusers in the 1960s and 1970s, today's methamphetamine
abusers cross ethnic and gender boundaries. Methamphetamine is psychologically
addictive during the binge and high-intensity patterns of abuse, with users
becoming paranoid and unpredictable.
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