Identifying and dealing with teenage drug use is a frightening prospect for any parent. But we live in a world where teens have so many opportunities for losing their way. They have the time and money for vices and less supervision at home. And drugs today are even more powerful and addictive than ever.
Methamphetamine (known on the street as "speed," "meth," "crank," "crystal-meth") is a central nervous system stimulant that is among the most dangerous drugs available. Like cocaine, it is a powerful "upper" that produces alertness and feelings of elation, along with a variety of adverse reactions. Methamphetamine is sometimes called the "poor man’s cocaine," because it costs nearly the same as cocaine with much longer lasting effects.
Methamphetamine can be swallowed, smoked, snorted, or injected. Under the influence of the drug, users often become agitated and "wired." Their behaviour becomes unpredictable: friendly and calm one moment, angry and terrified the next. Once users become too tired to continue using or run out of meth, they will begin to "crash." Initially, the crash is marked by agitated depression, which soon gives way to lethargy, followed by a long deep sleep. Once the user awakens, the depression returns and may last for days. This is the time when the potential for suicide is high.
With prolonged high-dose use or long binges, stimulant psychosis may develop. User may feel intensely paranoid, hear voices, and experience bizarre delusions (such as thinking that people are talking about and/or following them). Methamphetamine-induced panic and psychosis can be extremely dangerous and may result in incidents of extreme violence.
Dangers and consequences of meth use include:
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- skin ulceration and infection, the result of picking at imaginary bugs
- paranoia, anxiety, irritability
- increased blood pressure due to the constriction of blood vessels (may produce headaches, chest pain, or irregular heartbeat and lead to stroke or heart attack)
- permanent brain cell damage
- for intravenous (IV) users: AIDS, hepatitis, infections and sores at the injection site, and infection of the heart lining and valves (endocarditis)
If you are a parent concerned that your teenager may be using meth, there are symptoms you should look for. You may notice a striking degeneration of your child's attitude, school attendance and marks, dress, personal hygiene, complexion and skin condition, along with increased mood swings, weight loss, and irregular sleeping patterns such as long waking and sleeping periods (days). A change of friends, secrecy, missing monies and valuables, dropping out of extra curriculum activities, and verbal aggression and/or the threat of physical aggression are also warning signs.
If you suspect your child of drug use, contact a professional or counselor to help guide you through the process of acknowledging, confronting, and dealing with this problem. Professionals, non-profits, and faith-based organizations are available throughout Saskatchewan to help you and your family through this difficult time.
Teen Challenge Saskatchewan