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Why is meth a popular drug?

Methamphetamine abuse has reached epidemic proportions in Nebraska and surrounding states. Legislation passed within the last 20 years to prevent the manufacture of the drug by restricting access to one of its key ingredients, pseudoephedrine, may give you the idea that meth abuse is a relatively recent phenomenon.

According to WebMD, however, soldiers fighting in World War II on all sides of the conflict received methamphetamine in order to maintain them in top fighting form, and doctors gave it to civilian patients during the 1950s, under the brand name Methedrine, to help with depression and weight loss. 

Users regard methamphetamine, not as a status symbol as it lacks the prestigious cachet associated with heroin or cocaine, but as a functional tool to get high. Meth works by stimulating the production of a neurochemical called dopamine that decreases appetite, increases alertness and causes an elevated sense of well-being. Meth use is also closely associated with sexual behavior, as users report an increased preoccupation with sex and heightened sexual pleasure while using the drug. 

Nevertheless, the short-term pleasurable effects of methamphetamine use may lead to long-term consequences. Research indicates that permanent damage to the pleasure centers of the brain may result from methamphetamine abuse. In the short term, a meth user coming down from a high may feel fatigued and experience an inability to feel pleasure, known as anhedonia, as well as psychological symptoms of paranoia, psychosis and depression.

Due to the relative ease of methamphetamine manufacture, domestic distribution and foreign trafficking, meth use has become an increasing problem across the United States, with only the Northeast reporting relatively low rates of admissions into treatment programs for meth abuse. As many former meth users report that they had no idea what they were getting into when they started, the key to stemming the tide of meth abuse may be education about the drug's effects.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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