CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
UI psychiatrist notes a growing number of methamphetamine treatment
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Arrests for methamphetamine production and distribution
continue to make news headlines across Iowa and the Midwest. Not surprisingly,
the number of people seeking help for methamphetamine abuse is on the rise,
according to a University of Iowa psychiatrist who treats users of the
highly addictive drug.
At the UI Hospitals and Clinics' Chemical Dependency Service, there
has "definitely been an increase in the number of 'meth' cases over
the past couple of years," said Brian Cook, D.O., UI associate professor
of psychiatry. "Moreover, we're seeing more methamphetamine use among
18-25 age group which, along with people in their late 20s and 30s,
is the main group of methamphetamine users."
Cook estimated that more than half of the individuals under age 25 who
have received treatment at the Chemical Dependency Service since it moved
from the UI's Oakdale Research Campus to the UIHC earlier this year have
sought help for methamphetamine use.
Methamphetamine is a powerful synthetic drug made by combining a number
of substances. Its two major precursor chemicals are ephedrine and psuedoephedrine,
which are found in many common cold and asthma medications. Methamphetamine
"cooks" mix ephedrine or psuedoephedrine with other chemically-based
products such as drain cleaner, battery acid, ether, ammonia, lye,
lantern fuel or antifreeze to make the drug. A makeshift methamphetamine
lab can fit in a suitcase and literally hundreds of "recipes"
for the drug exist. As police and news reports have indicated, these labs
are being found in rural, urban and suburban settings all over Iowa and
Methamphetamine affects the body's central nervous system, stimulating
the reward center of the brain. The drug influences the levels of dopamine,
a neurotransmitter involved in producing feelings of pleasure or euphoria,
in the brain. After the initial high, methamphetamine users will "come
down," feeling depressed or irritable. Since the drug also suppresses
the regular production of dopamine, users physically demand more of the
drug to return to normal. This pleasure/tension cycle eventually can lead
"Methamphetamine is similar to cocaine in how it affects the body,"
Cook said, "but the high lasts a lot longer." Plus, methamphetamine
users quickly become tolerant of the drug's euphoric effects, as well as
its physical side effects.
"Meth users ultimately end up chasing a higher high," Cook
said. "They put themselves more at risk for the drug's serious side
effects such as increased heart and blood pressure rates, irritability,
paranoia, delusions and aggression." Cook noted that whereas a cocaine
binge could last up to three days, it's not uncommon for methamphetamine
users to go on a five to 10 day binge.
At the UI Chemical Dependency Service, a typical inpatient treatment
for methamphetamine addiction will last between 10 days and two weeks,
Cook said. The first few days of treatment involves detoxification, monitoring
blood pressure and stabilizing any physical symptoms, and watching for
depression, suicidal tendencies or other psychiatric symptoms. Next, patients
undergo counseling or group therapy sessions and discuss lifestyle changes
to help maintain abstinence.
"It's a very tough drug. People continue to crave it long after
they've undergone treatment," Cook said. "Unfortunately, relapses
To find out about treatment options for methamphetamine or other chemical
substances, contact the UI Chemical Dependency Service, 24 hours a day,
at (319) 384-8765.