At first, drugs can be seductive. But these good times lead to the unintended slavery, pain, humiliation and degradation of addiction. Anyone can succumb to addiction. Once you are addicted, life as you know it stops and a haze of chaos reins. You may find yourself doing things you never thought you would in order to get your hands on more drugs.
This past year, a former sheriff in Colorado was arrested for trading methamphetamine for sex with men. The fall of this sheriff came as surprise to many who knew him during his tenure, but as more facts are revealed, the picture of an addict who wields power over others to control them emerges.
According to ongoing investigations, the now ex-sheriff offered methamphetamine to meth-addicted men in exchange for sexual intercourse. When circumstances threatened to expose his behavior, he used his position and his knowledge of law enforcement agencies to argue that he was working on a task force to help meth abusers get clean when he was actually doing no such thing. He also used his position and name to intimidate others. Drug addiction, violence, intimidation, sex, and meth addiction combined to take this once powerful man down. Reported perceptions and beliefs the public once held about him were a sharp contrast to his life as a drug addict, dealer and intimidator.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. It has a long half life and high toxicity levels that impact the dopamine nerve terminals in the central nervous system. People who ingest meth experience increased wakefulness with an accompanying array of physical conditions such as irregular heartbeat. Today, many individuals produce meth in private labs using a variety of toxic ingredients.
According to a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) report, 1.2 million Americans abused methamphetamine in 2009. Chronic meth use has been shown to alter brain structure and function, creating emotional, cognitive and physical impairments to motor skills, memory and learning. The greater the meth abuse, the more the symptoms appear. These may include:
- Violent behavior
- Meth mouth
- Skin eruptions
Meth Use and Risky Sexual Behavior
Research literature has demonstrated that meth addiction and use is associated with high-risk sexual behavior in homosexuals and men having sex with men (MSM), a group that also includes bisexual and heterosexual men. Risky sexual behavior is also more common among HIV-infected meth users than non-users, among MSM and homosexuals. The data on heterosexuals is not as clear. There has been a marked increase in unprotected anal intercourse and the number of sexual partners among those MSM who also have been diagnosed with HIV.
In a report issued by the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, one in three meth users reported having sex with an HIV-infected person. Half of the study’s participants also reported having unprotected sex. This study, the first to include teenagers, was published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Researchers stated that methamphetamine is a cheap street drug that lowers inhibitions and purportedly heightens sexual response. They also warned that any drug, not just meth, can increase the rate of risky sexual behavior.
Women, Meth and Sexual Behavior
Most studies conducted on meth addicted users and their sexual behaviors have focused on men. In 2004, The University of San Diego, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), examined the increasing number of meth addicted women. The women in the study ranged in age from their teens to their mid-fifties. A diversity of races was included with ninety-six percent of participants having less than a college degree.
The study found that a majority of meth users in the San Diego area were indeed women who had begun their addiction early in their teens. Researchers also found that female meth users claimed to experience heightened sexual responses under the influence of meth. However, the reasons why women were using meth differed. For example, the number of women who reported using meth to enhance sexual pleasure was only 18%. Most female meth addicts use the drug to (in order of importance):
- Get high
- Have more energy
- Cope with moods
- Lose weight
The rate of women in the study who had anonymous sex was much lower than that of meth-using men engaging in anonymous sexual behavior. Researchers also included a baseline study of heterosexual men and found that women and men did not differ in background characteristics, patterns of meth use, use of alcohol and other drugs, type and number of sexual partners or sexual risk behaviors. The two groups differed in psychiatric health, context of meth use, social and legal problems and perceived consequences of meth use.
Meth Users Defy Categorization
According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, there is no “typical” meth user. The common denominator among users is that meth is highly addictive. It harms the body, destroys families, promotes risky behaviors, and increases risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The organization also focuses its campaign on the need for crystal meth addiction treatment. They argue that many believe that meth addiction cannot be treated in a drug rehab facility. In reality, there are large numbers of people seeking drug addiction treatment for meth abuse in particular. The Partnership for a Drug Free America urges friend and family members of meth users to assist addicted individuals in getting help.
Meth Detox and Drug Rehabilitation Programs
The first step in stopping meth abuse is attending medically monitored drug detox. Medication and medical monitoring can help ease the withdrawal symptoms of meth. Hallucinations, disrupted sleep patterns, paranoia, agitation and depression can all be controlled throughout detox.
Once a meth addict has been successfully stabilized, he or she should immediately follow methamphetamine detox by entering an integrated, comprehensive and medically based drug rehab center. In a rehabilitation program, an addict’s underlying mental health issues, physical issues and addictive behaviors will be addressed. Breaking the cycle of addiction is possible with the proper tools.
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