By IVY HERRON
It begins with a rush of euphoria as the drug enters the blood stream, quickening the heart rate and blood pressure while taking control of the nervous system.
This is the moment, smoking or injecting methamphetamine for the first time, that leads many to addiction.
Recreational use by ingestion or snorting of methamphetamine as a means of weight loss or for an extra boost to manage the struggles of everyday life are common reasons many, especially young women, use the drug in the begining.
A sense of supreme intelligence takes over the mind of a meth user who feels they are Superman, able do anything, know everything, and that everything is possible.
Their body feels like it could run away from its own skin from the energy rush. Moving, constantly moving, a person can't stop. There is an urgency to everything, no time to wait for anything.
This is what the drug was designed to do, but only for a limited time. For some it may take months, for others it can be a matter of weeks even days, before the drug becomes the sole purpose of existence for a meth user according to research by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
During this time meth users can appear normal, but due to their secretive lifestyles, many addicts do not get the help needed to break free of the drug. But continued drug use blurs the line between being a recreational user who thinks they are in control of the drug and the out-of-control drug addict.
An otherwise good-natured person can become an agitated violent predator with criminal tendencies after simply switching to smoking or injecting meth. Domestic disputes, motor vehicle accidents and asaults are spur-of-the-moment acts addicts commit without thought. Others turn to more dangerous acts of crime like burglary, drug cooking and drug sales to support their habit.
Hyperactivity, violent outrageous behavior and extreme despair takes over many high-intensisty meth addicts. Exhaustion, which sets in after days of being awake, can cause an addict to sleep for days.
The body and mind, always yearning for another fix, conspire together when an addict is not using meth with thoughts of suicide as a plausible escape from the actual pain the body feels from the withdrawal symptoms of nonuse.
Body movements are quick and jerky while eye contact is almost impossible to maintain. Known as scanning, an addict's eyes move ten times faster than normal.
An addict's voice slightly quivers when using very precise speech patterns as an effort to conceal the addiction. Their skin usually pales as sweating and body odor become a part of their appearance along with extreme weight loss. Insomnia, irritability, anxiety and nervousness consume the person as their teeth at first discolored then, with extended drug abuse, rot inside their mouths.
Soon scars and open sores appear at the end of their fingers from mixing chemicals and prolonged use of the drug. Others are from drug induced hallucinations which have caused addicts to desperately scratch, claw and pick at some unseen menace tearing skin from their own bodies.
Long-term abuse can cause convulsions, breakdown of muscle tissue, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes and ultimately death.
Methamphetamine is a dangerous ugly dissent into addiction for users that is destroying families and overcrowding jails at epidemic proportions throughout the Wabash Valley.
For everyone involved, the choice soon becomes one of living life, or dying with meth.
Information for this article supplied by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Partnership for a Drugfree America, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Indiana State Police, Clay County Superior Court, Clay County Sheriff's Department, Clay County Health Department, the Local Coordinated Drug-free Indiana Counsel and various area counselors.