Meth: In-depth on the Drug

As we continue to hear about regulations and restrictions stemming from methamphetamine use, you may be wondering just what meth is.

Experts say it's a very dangerous drug.

It's a white, odorless power. People either inject it, snort it, swallow it or smoke it.

But no matter which method, it affects a user both instantaneously and long-term.

"It's an upper so they have increased energy, there's a euphoric feeling," says Dennis Reichelt, President of the Wisconsin Alcohol and Drug Treatment Provider Association, "It's a pleasurable experience at least to begin with."

That is just the beginning. Before and after pictures tell the real story behind fighting a meth addiction.

"Where the real danger comes in is where people will develop an almost toxic psychosis," says Dr. Alan Cavaiola of Monmouth University, "A lot of times they may become delusional, they may become paranoid, very suspicious of other people."

Other long term effects include violent behavior, anxiety and hallucinations, coupled with possible heart complications and skin abscesses. Not to mention the addiction.

"As they continue to use the drug that becomes the most important thing in their life," says Reichelt, "Everything else suffers: relationships, work, they lose interest in all of that."

And now an ongoing national study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse finds the effects of extended meth use reach even further.

"there are significant changes that take place in the neural pathways in the brain," continues Reichelt, "The research is indicating that even after 24 months of complete abstinence, it's taking that long for the brain to approach returning to normal."

The Wisconsin meth problem is centered in the west and northwest portions of the state, but Governor Jim Doyle says that's a big enough foothold.

"In the late 80s and early 90s we let crack cocaine come into Wisconsin in a way that devastated communities in this state," says Doyle, "And I hope we learned a lesson and are ready to make sure we stand up and work very hard on methamphetamine."

Meth has been around for years.

But now the only real prescribed use is in Ritalin, which is a variation of methamphetamine used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Tuesday was also day two for the Wisconsin Association on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse's annual conference examining drug problems and solutions.

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