Meth Hits The Upper Class; Users Resist Treatment

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Methamphetamine, stereotyped as a drug of rural and lower-class neighborhoods, is prevalent among drug-using teens and young adults regardless of economic or social status, the Los Angeles Times says. “The drug doesn’t hold any boundaries; I’ve sold crystal meth to junkies and to businessmen inside million-dollar homes.” said Ed Smith, a former meth addict and now a director of Narconon Southern California, an inpatient rehabilitation center. “It’s not only a poor person’s drug,” said Sgt. Chuck Chapman, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy directing the Proactive Methamphetamine Laboratory Investigative Task Force. Mike Szyperski, detective of the narcotics unit of the Newport Beach, Ca., Police Department, said 80% of his division’s time is spent curbing meth use. “Everyone is doing it,” Szyperski said. “It’s the drug of choice.”

State officials seized 51 meth labs in Orange County in 2002. So far this year, they have busted 40. In 2002, Los Angeles officials seized 163 meth labs. This year, as of Aug. 30, 82 labs have been seized. Studies show that one in seven meth users becomes dependent. Former users say the first few hits are euphoric. The stimulant allows users to stay up for days at a time.

“The attraction of crystal meth is its long-acting stimulation of the brain,” said Dr. David F. Musto of the Yale University School of Medicine. “The problem is that it drains the brain of normal and necessary elements. The user feels the need to keep using it to hold off crashing. Meth users often think they are OK. How can being so euphoric be bad? Nonusers can see the true situation, but getting meth users into treatment is difficult.”


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