Monday, April 30, 2018

Meth is top drug problem in West Ky.; Paducah Sun story also gives essential information about drug abuse and treatment

"In Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois, law enforcement and rehabilitators see methamphetamine as the drug of choice, responsible for a large majority of substance-related arrests," Dave Thompson reports for The Paducah Sun. "The drug is cheaper than many others on the street. It's made with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, common in some decongestants, along with other chemicals depending on the method the cook uses."

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says meth gives the brain significantly higher levels of dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure, desire and motivation, than cocaine, and remains in the body longer, Thomspon notes.

The story tracks a young man identified only as Cody, who used the drug for six years before getting treatment at Four Rivers Behavioral Health through the McCracken County Drug Court. "Alienated from his family, with no one to rely on and facing felony charges, Cody finally decided he'd had enough," Thompson reports.

"I'd been through enough to where I was ready to sober up," he told Thompson. "I was definitely going to die . . . I took anything from anybody. I've dropped out of college twice over meth. I've totaled people's cars and left them in the roads. . . . I'm 27 and I've been to jail probably 20 times."

Thompson's story includes information that helps educate readers about drug abuse and its treatment: "Drug addiction is a disease. That's the prevailing opinion among many drug treatment programs like Four Rivers. Those who work in the field call it substance use disorder. That term is both an attempt to de-stigmatize those who use drugs and to understand that the issue is more complex and requiring of deeper treatment than simply telling someone to choose not to be addicted."

"Meth doesn't have the same extended withdrawal symptoms as drugs like opiates," Thompson writes, but "a person needs to learn how to deal with the cravings that might still linger. . . . A post-meth life can include lasting mental and physical effects, including psychosis, years after a person's last dose, Fleming said."

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