Meth epidemic as a social problem
Methamphetamine (meth) is a synthetic stimulant, which affects the pleasures of the brain by making it to release dopamine (Frontline 2005). Meth has several street names, such as, “speed, chalk, ice, crystal, glass, crank, yaba, tina and tweak” (Frontline 2005). There are many ways of consuming the drug, which includes injection, swallowing, anal insertion, and smoking. The effect of the drug lasts between six and 24 hours. It is a dominating and addictive substance, which causes high rates of dependency among its users.
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The increasing abuse of the drug in the US has made it a social problem in many states. As a result, consumption has become a major concern for many states as many drug users and addicts consider meth as their top choice.
Over one million people use meth in the US, and this figure has risen steadily. Initially, many white males from the rural areas of the western sides of the US were the major users of this drug. However, today meth consumption has spread to the East Coast. Hence, users have become significantly diverse. Many consumers are people in their 20s and 30s who have white and blue collars jobs, as well as unemployed populations. Many men than women have used meth. Moreover, many whites have abused meth than other races.
As early as the 1980s, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had already recognized problems associated with the usages of meth and vital chemicals used in its production. However, drug firms that manufactured cough and cold solutions from the chemicals opposed the law to ban such chemicals. As a result, drug dealers moved to trade in the drug as it gained popularity on the West Coast in the 1990s, specifically in Oregon and California.
The effects of the meth epidemic on social institutions
The usages and abuse of meth affect social institutions just like other hard drugs.
The families have witnessed escalating cases of meth usages among parents and their children. This has made meth-related abuse to be severe in homes than imagined. Cases of meth child abuse are difficult to manage as their parent also become addicts.
There are escalating issues related to child abuse in families because of meth abuse. Family support may not be available for both children and their parents as usages of meth become widespread. This situation may erode public support in managing the condition and widespread usages within families.
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Society has blamed both the federal and state governments for failing to control the widespread use of meth. Although most states have adopted laws to stem the sale and consumption of meth, people still find ways to sell the drug beyond restriction.
Some state governments have insisted that people who want to purchase meth-related drugs must produce prescriptions from their doctors. However, these policies have not been effective because many drug cartels have found new ways of developing and selling these drugs.
Therefore, the major concern of society is that these government control policies may not be effective in handling the meth menace.
The widespread nature of use and abuse of meth has attracted the attention of politicians. Congress has enacted legislation to control the use of meth and medication related to it. Some critics claim that the government has not done enough to control the social impacts of meth. However, incumbents have defended the government position by claiming that the government has used uniform approaches in fighting drugs. In other words, it cannot focus on meth alone and neglect other dangerous drugs. These incumbents are vocal to the society about legislators’ efforts to meth production, distribution, and usages.
Former leaders have increased funding in order to control the meth epidemic. This has been good progress. However, critics have observed that the government has failed to initiate the required reforms to fight the meth epidemic. For instance, the government has failed to align its agencies that handle anti-drug issues to relevant hardest-hit areas and departments. These politicians claim that such realignment is necessary in order to enhance the coordination of anti-drug strategies. It would also allow other federal agencies to focus on areas that directly influence their duties. In some cases where incumbent governments have proposed a reduction in budget, politicians have claimed that such moves hinder the fight against meth in their local communities. Economy
Cartels have ruined the economies of many states. The last years have seen the widespread use of the drug among employed populations, as well as a general rise in the use of meth. This situation has affected many firms. The drug usages bear significant expenses in terms of medication and professional help. Many companies lose their workers, who are becoming meth addicts and require such medical interventions. Meth also has related costs, such as law enforcement costs.
Meth also releases dangerous chemicals to the environment during its production dangerous constructed and illegal labs found in homes, garages, kitchens, and motel rooms among others.
The rise in technology has facilitated the rapid production of meth. The super labs are well equipped and have standardized processes of meth production. They also have quality chemicals for their production. These labs can manufacture millions of meth in a year. However, in some cases, cartels adulterate these drugs with addictive substances before they reach the intended consumers.
There are also home labs for making meth. These are semi-structures, which can only produce a limited number of doses of meth for street sales. Home labs produce highly addictive forms of meth.
The media have the role of informing society about meth usages and widespread. However, some critics have observed that the new media have created the impression that meth usages have resulted in widespread social issues beyond control. In some cases, people have argued that the new media have portrayed situations in which addicts cannot recover while children addict is beyond repair. Moreover, this sends the idea that welfare centers and society cannot manage the meth epidemic altogether.
According to the new media, meth is the worst form of addictive drug ever for its users. As a result, meth addicts can no longer receive care from society and support institutions.
However, one must note that the new media have tendencies to make information newsworthy by creating the ‘hype’ in the meth epidemic. Hence, responsible reporting by relying on data can present the reality of the meth epidemic to society.
Medical firms have a noble idea to treat cold and cough from pseudoephedrine or ephedrine. These chemicals for meth production have similar structures and formulas. They are mainly suitable for decongestant agents by restricting the blood vessels to allow people with coughs, flu, and cold to breathe freely. These drugs help in lessening the swelling of tissues in the nostril. Specifically, pseudoephedrine is effective in controlling allergic and sinus conditions while ephedrine is popular among firms that manufacture asthma drugs.
However, most of these two substances have ended up with illegal manufacturers of meth. Moreover, meth cookers have invented ways of extracting pseudoephedrine or ephedrine from meth drugs. As a way of promoting healthy meth drugs, some firms have responded by manufacturing meth doses that present challenges to meth cookers who want to extract pseudoephedrine or ephedrine.
Today, meth is among the biggest drug issues in the US. It has become easy to get, cheap, make, and sell. As a result, many Americans have experimented with meth in the lifetime.
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Many users of meth believe that the drug produces desirable goals in society. The drug has become a major social problem because users have linked it to outcomes they would like to get after consumption. For instance, meth users believe that meth produces seemingly endless possibilities related to improved sex, happiness, weight loss, work productivity, and feelings of self-confidence. The modern culture promotes sexual prowess, slim bodies, hard work, and high rates of productivity among others. These beliefs attract people into using meth.
As users become addicts, they are likely to increase the consumption of meth in order to experience related advantages and pleasure. One major observation with meth is that it cuts across all social barriers. In other words, street kids consume it, lawyers, musicians, movie stars, homemakers, and office workers among others.
Meth has long-term effects on society. Among all illegal drugs, meth is relatively available and cheap for many people. This leads to widespread abuse of the drug. Meth has the ability to evoke strong aspects of aggression among its users. This contributes to violence, rage, and suicidal tendencies among its user. Moreover, people who have abused the drug over a long period have serious health problems associated with heart, depression, and stroke.
Any drug addiction leads to serious destruction in society. Meth will lead people to crime, burglary, domestic violence, neglect, and child abuse among other vices. Meth addiction has serious challenges beyond any user can bear. The use of meth has destroyed many families. Broken homes have led to neglected and abused children, which have increased pressure on welfare homes and society. Such effects have stifled social developments in society.
Some studies have indicated that majorities who use meth prefer injection to administer the drug. These drug addicts share needles. As a result, there are high rates of HIV and hepatitis C. These conditions have progressed among meth addicts to chronic stages.
It is simple to start a meth lab at home. However, these simple labs are sources of serious environmental concerns. Many substances used in the preparation of meth are hazardous and volatile. Moreover, manufacturers of meth also dump their used apparatus anywhere without considering environmental impacts.
There are huge long-term financial costs to society related to meth addiction. It is imperative to mention that the actual cost may be difficult to quantity. However, one must note that the government spends a large number of resources on the war against drugs. For instance, there are medical costs, incarceration costs, and costs of running prisons among others. Financial losses may extend to companies, which have employees who become addicted to meth.
On the other hand, it is difficult to quantify long-term losses to families, which may lose one of them to meth. Long-term losses to families have severe impacts, such as human suffering and disruption of individuals’ lives.
There are several initiatives to end the meth epidemic in the US. However, the approaches have not been effective in ending the meth epidemic. Controlling the meth epidemic requires the inputs of all stakeholders. The family must protect its members from drug abuse by avoiding home labs in the kitchens and washrooms. A family member who becomes a drug addict must get social support and professional treatment.
Many critics believe that the government has lost the war against drugs. Hence, the government requires new policies to control the meth epidemic and changes in agencies that fight drugs. Similar to this, politicians can also play their part by supporting reforms and policies, which will help people to fight the meth epidemic. Meth has affected the economy of various states. Hence, economic institutions may join in the war against the meth epidemic by supporting workers who have drug issues. Firms can also support projects that aim to fight the meth epidemic in their local areas through funding.
Technologically, drug manufacturers must continue to research and manufacture drugs, which make it impossible for illegal home labs to extract pseudoephedrine or ephedrine from meth drugs. The new media should engage in responsible reporting. They need to link reporting with scientific facts in order to present accurate challenges of the meth epidemic, rather than an exaggerated version of the problem. Finally, medicine manufacturing should develop effective remedies for helping meth addicts.
The Meth Epidemic. Dir. Carl Byker. Perf. Frontline. PBS, 2005. Film.