Tag Archives: meth

Methamphetamine and Opioids: Drug Synergism Concerns

Methamphetamine

In 2011, 19% of opioid users said they also used methamphetamine; by 2017, that figure had risen to 34%, according to a study appearing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The researchers concluded:

“Qualitative data indicated that methamphetamine served as an opioid substitute, provided a synergistic high, and balanced out the effects of opioids so one could function “normally.” Our data suggest that, at least to some extent, efforts limiting access to prescription opioids may be associated with an increase in the use of methamphetamine.”

In 2014, 14% of heroin users entering treatment in San Francisco reported also having a meth problem. A follow up in 2017 showed that 22% of heroin users seeking treatment in San Francisco had issues with meth too.

The numbers above are not an anomaly; methamphetamine is making a comeback across the United States. Although, some experts might argue that meth use never went away but was hiding in the shadows of the opioid epidemic.

The days of clandestine methamphetamine labs in the U.S. came to an end in the 2000s. However, government crackdowns had the unintended consequence of ushering in new opportunities for Mexican cartels.

Efforts to stem the tide of homegrown meth production in America were most successful at creating a windfall for the cartels. South of the border “super labs” sprung up to feed America’s growing demand for “crystal meth.” Mexican meth, sometimes called “ice” due to its purity, is stronger and less expensive than what was found on the streets a decade ago.

Deaths involving methamphetamine are steadily rising, particularly in the West, NPR reports. The link between meth and opioids is cause for concern; the surge in meth use is believed to be tied to efforts to confront the opioid epidemic.

The Impact of Rising Opioid Prices

Making it more difficult to acquire certain drugs does little to address addiction. Instead, it forces those who live with use disorders to take more risks and seek new avenues of euphoria. Most people are aware that the U.S. government has taken many steps to decrease access to prescription opioids. New legislation and prescribing guidelines forced many addicts to turn to heroin.

While heroin is less expensive than OxyContin, a habit can be hundreds of dollars a day. Maintaining an opioid addiction is costly, regardless of the drug in question. Opioids make people feel lethargic, which makes it difficult to hold down a job. Stimulants like meth provide many addicts the extra pep in their step needed to get to work.

Amelia, a recovering addict, tells NPR that meth enabled her to keep working so she could afford her heroin habit. She said that using stimulants to help her support the opioid use disorder developed into a pattern.

The heroin was the most expensive part,” she says. “That was $200 a day at one point. And the meth was $150 a week.”

There are other reasons why people use stimulants in conjunction with opioids—drug synergism. Addicts have been mixing heroin and cocaine (e.g., “speedballing”) for a long time; one drug enhances the effects of the other and vice versa. However, cocaine is often more expensive than heroin. Now, many people are using heroin and meth simultaneously to replicate a speedball; the admixture is commonly referred to as a “goofball.”

When a person is struggling with both a stimulant and opioid use disorder, it can complicate treatment efforts. Unlike opioids, there is no medication to help people with meth withdrawal. It’s it vital that treatment professionals pay close attention to polysubstance use disorder cases to prevent relapse.

Methamphetamine and Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Mixing stimulants with opioids is a deadly combination; naloxone isn’t as effective on polysubstance overdoses. It is vital that individuals in the grips of meth and opioid addiction seek professional help immediately to avoid severe complications.

If you are an adult male who is struggling with a use disorder of any kind, please contact PACE Recovery Center today. Our gender-specific, extended care programs can help you break the cycle of addiction. We are available 24/7 to answer any of your questions about our multidimensional approach to substance use disorder treatment.

Meth Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier

meth

Mind-altering chemicals, like drugs and alcohol, do just that, they change your state of mind. Naturally, each drug has its own unique effect and how a person responds depends on the substance in question. Any individual with a history of alcohol or substance use disorder has a first-hand understanding of what such experiences are like; however, few people with such pasts know what a particular chemical "actually" does in the brain, or to the most vital organ.

Those who’ve undergone treatment may have a cursory understanding of mechanisms like the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The term is defined as a filtering mechanism of the capillaries that carry blood to the brain and spinal cord tissue, blocking the passage of certain substances. When a person uses a mind-altering substance, the particular drug makes its way into the bloodstream and onto the brain. While not everything that enters the bloodstream can pass the barrier, the materials that lead to use disorders do; and, can cause damage in the process of crossing the threshold.

In a fundamental sense, the BBB lets healthy things into your brain cells and prevents anything harmful, like toxins from entering. Researchers at the Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering say that when drugs like methamphetamine pass the barrier, the substance increases the permeability of the BBB, Motherboard reports. Meaning, other harmful toxins found in the blood may find their way across, too.

Artificial Brains On Meth

Advancements in technology allow researchers to create artificial human brains involving the integration of human cell cultures into microfluidic chip platforms, according to the article. This process may sound complicated, only understandable to scientists; however, it is possible for non-specialists to grasp the concept. The research team at Wyss are using microchips lined with living human cells which are then introduced to drugs like meth, to observe responses and stimuli. The research findings appear in Nature Biotechnology.

“Our primary reason for choosing this drug is that it is one of the most addictive drugs responsible for thousands of deaths,” writes co-lead researcher Ben Maoz. “Given this tragic statistic, it is surprising that much is still unknown. Therefore, we sought to use this novel system to unveil the metabolic effect of meth on the different parts of the [neurovascular unit].”

Please take a moment to watch a short video for a basic understanding of the process:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

“Just like in the brains of people who choose to smoke meth, the BBB chips started to leak,” Kit Parker, professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, told Digital Trends. “That’s exactly what happens when you smoke meth — and why you shouldn’t.”

Developing a more concise understanding of how narcotics interact with the human brain can have enormous implications. The research may lead to more effective methods of treating addiction, according to the article. What’s more, the findings could help scientists discover new processes of transporting beneficial pharmaceuticals to the appropriate brain targets. Lead researchers Ben Maoz, Anna Herland, and Edward Fitzgerald are developing new Organ Chip platforms applicable to neuropathology research on stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury.

We took a game-changing advance in microengineering made in our academic lab, and in just a handful of years, turned it into a technology that is now poised to have a major impact on society,” said Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., is the Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, who was not involved in the study.

Biologically inspired engineering may have near-limitless potential when it comes to studying the impact of psychostimulants on the brain, in real time. It also means that drug research – one day – may no longer require soliciting addicts and alcoholics in the grip of use disorders to participate in studies that involve using addictive substances.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Please contact PACE if you or a male loved one is battling alcohol or substance use disorder. At our treatment center, we address all components of addiction and mental health. Please call to speak to an admissions counselor who can answer any questions you have about our gender-specific, extended care alcohol and drug rehab for men.

Contact Us

...