Elmore County, AL– Shortly before Halloween there was a drug bust in Deatsville. The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) arrested James Dewayne Nix, 50 after a traffic stop.
According to the Wetumpka Herald, Nix had over 100 grams of crystal meth (methamphetamine) with an estimated street value of $20,000. ESCO says that this is the first arrest of the drug operation.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines methamphetamine (meth) as a stimulant that has a similar chemical structure to amphetamine. Regular methamphetamine is a pill or powder, while crystal methamphetamine takes the form of glass fragments or shiny blue-white “rocks” of different sizes. In addition, Meth is taken orally, smoked, injected, or snorted. To increase its effect, users smoke or inject it, or take higher doses of the drug more frequently.
Using meth affects the body physically, emotionally, and psychologically. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that long-term effects of meth may include: addiction, psychosis (i.e. paranoia hallucinations, and repetitive motor activity), changes in brain structure and function, and deficits in thinking and motor skills.
Other long-term effects include increased distractibility, memory loss, aggressive or violent behavior, mood disturbances, severe dental problems, and weight loss.
According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 1.2 million people (0.4 percent of the population) reported using methamphetamine in the past year, and 440,000 (0.2 percent) reported using it in the past month. This represents a decrease from previous years: In 2006 731,000 (0.3 percent) reported past-month use. In 2012, there were 133,000 new users of methamphetamine age 12 or older—the same as the previous year but continuing a general downward trend across the past decade. The average age of new methamphetamine users in 2012 was 19.7 years old.
The correlation between substance abuse and mental health is very prevalent. According to SAMHSA, substance abuse becomes a disorder when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.
In 2014, SAMHSA reported that about 21.5 million Americans ages 12 and older (8.1%) were classified with a substance use disorder in the past year. Of those, 2.6 million had problems with both alcohol and drugs, 4.5 million had problems with drugs but not alcohol, and 14.4 million had problems with alcohol only.
Sometimes a person can have a mental health issue and a substance abuse problem at the same time. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) refers to this as dual diagnosis; a term for when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance abuse problem simultaneously.
NAMI suggests that either substance abuse or mental illness can develop first. A person experiencing a mental health condition may turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication to improve the troubling mental health symptoms they experience. Research shows though that drugs and alcohol only make the symptoms of mental health conditions worse.
A dual diagnosis can also be referred to as a co-occuring disorder, which is the coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder. According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 7.9 million adults had co-occurring disorders in 2014. During the past year, for those adults surveyed who experienced substance use disorders and any mental illness, rates were highest among adults ages 26 to 49 (42.7%). For adults with past-year serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders, rates were highest among those ages 18 to 25 (35.3%) in 2014.
The symptoms of a dual diagnosis can vary because of the different combinations of disorders that can occur. According to NAMI, symptoms of a substance abuse disorder may include withdrawal from friends and family, sudden changes in behavior, using substances under dangerous conditions, engaging in risky behaviors when drunk or high, loss of control over use of substances, doing things you wouldn’t normally do to maintain your habit, developing tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, and feeling like you need the drug to be able to function.
NAMI suggests keeping in mind some of the warning signs of a mental health disorder. They include such extreme mood changes, confused thinking or problems concentrating, avoiding friends and social activities and thoughts of suicide, can help identify if there is a reason to seek help.
To learn more about the effects of substance abuse and mental illness visit www.nami.org