The Doctor Is In: The addictive dangers of methamphetamine

Wausau, Wis. (WSAW) Methamphetamine (crystal meth) abuse is a major problem in several communities in the Midwestern United States including Wausau.

As part of "The Doctor Is In" Dr. Borra Dileep with North Central Heath Care spoke about what makes the drug so addictive.

Methamphetamine is a sister compound of amphetamine. These drugs belong to the category of stimulants. Also called "uppers". Other stimulants in this category include cocaine and PCP and caffeine. They are typically used to increase performance and to induce a euphoric feeling.

According to Dr. Borra reasons people take 'uppers' include - students studying for examinations, long- distance truck drivers on trips, business people with important deadlines, athletes in competition, and soldiers during wartime.

Amphetamines and methamphetamines are the second most commonly abused drugs in united states, cannabis being the first.

Methamphetamine causes releases of what are called reward chemicals in the brain such as dopamine in an area of the brain called the reward pathway or reward circuitry.

Dr. Borra says, activation of the reward pathway is probably the major addicting mechanism for the methamphetamines. Other reasons include the ability to be used via several routes of administration such as smoking, inhalation and intravenous injection, and more importantly the availability – unlike cocaine which has to be imported, Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug that can be manufactured domestically in illicit laboratories which makes it cheap.

According to the National Association of Counties, nearly half (48 percent) of 500 county law enforcement agencies in the United States name methamphetamine as the primary drug problem, more than cocaine (22%), marijuana (22 %), and heroin (2%) combined.