The mainstream media has convinced a vast majority of the American population that opioids (prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl) are the only dastardly scourge doping up the Land of the Free, but the truth is methamphetamine is still as prevalent as ever. In fact, statistically speaking, the use of the drug sometimes referred to as crank or hillbilly speed is at an all-time high across the nation.
And now, thanks to forward-thinking Mexican drug cartels, this high-powered substance is finding popularity with a class of people who would have never touched the stuff more than a decade ago. With marijuana legalized for recreational use in Uruguay, Canada and ten American states, cartel operations have been forced to revamp their product lines to stay profitable, placing a heavier emphasis on the distribution of methamphetamine and other harder drugs.
But the crank these operations are churning out isn’t the rock dope once manufactured in a Mt. Dew bottle in the bathroom of a busted out double wide. The cartels have made being a “meth head” socially acceptable by producing it in pill form. You know, for those people too scared to shoot it up. Now, everyone from hookers to housewives can be loaded up on this stuff without seeming dirty.
“The meth problem has basically exploded across every race and social economic class that you can imagine,” Sergeant Mark McClendon, of the Missouri Highway Patrol, recently told National Public Radio,
We will be the first to admit that it can be fun and even spiritually enlightening to fry the old brain on various mind-altering substances. Smoking pot, dropping acid and tripping shrooms are all psychedelic adventures that most curious minds should probably experience before they are flushed out into full-blown adulthood. These substances, although mostly illegal, are among the safest drugs in the world.
But some of the latest research has made us more leery than before about jumping into the paranoid dimensions of the American speed fiend. A new study shows that even dabbling in the wild-eyed world of methamphetamine can bring about some savage repercussions in younger users — specifically a rare form of heart failure — that may put them on a high-speed path to an early grave.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have determined that people who use meth in their youth (17 and younger) could be setting themselves up for a lifetime of health issues pertaining to their heart. This is bad news considering that the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that people between the ages of 18 and 25 are using more methamphetamine than ever before.
The University of California study shows that the situation is especially dire for men. When compared to the average 67-year-old heart failure patient, researchers found that male meth-user were not only much more likely to drop dead from a bad ticker but they also spent more time in an out of hospitals for heart-related issues — an end game that no one ever considers in their 20s and 30s.
“Usually you see a high readmission rate with older patients as they get closer to death. When you see a high readmission rate in younger patients who are methamphetamine users that equals or surpasses the rate in older patients, that’s a strong statistic,” said Dr. John R. Richards, a professor at the University of California, Davis Medical School. “If you think about the health care costs of heart failure, we’re talking billions of dollars, and it’s increasing. It’s a true public health issue.”
Regardless of whether a user is smoking this go-go dust off a dirty piece of aluminum foil or just consuming it in pill form with a beer chaser, methamphetamine is an addictive and dangerous stimulant that is responsible for more than 8,000 deaths every year in the United States. A separate study from Ohio University shows that meth-related overdose deaths have increased by more than 5,000 percent (not a typo) in the Buckeye State alone over the past eight years. Some believe methamphetamine will transition into the next drug epidemic, as more folks become cavalier to the risks.
While the situation over meth is serious, even long term meth use doesn’t have to end with a user being strapped to machines in his local Intensive Care Unit.
Lead study author Dr. Isac Thomas says some of the heart damage that meth users can experience is reversible depending on the amount of scarring and inflammation. “Early intervention is key,” he said. “If we can get a patient on therapy and into drug remission, that can pay enormous dividends.”
Researchers plan to unveil the full results of the study at the upcoming American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions conference in Chicago. We have already emailed them and suggested calling the presentation “Hey dumbasses, here’s another reason why you should never do meth.”
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