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Meth and HIV

Meth is short for the powerful stimulant drug Methamphetamine, also commonly referred to as "Crank" and speed. Crystal meth is an even more potent version of the drug, and is to meth much like what crack is to cocaine. It looks like little rocks or crystals, hence the name. Individuals who use meth and crystal meth can become dependent and addicted to these drugs very quickly, even after just one use. Meth and crystal meth are easy to obtain, are primary drugs of abuse, and the number one problem in terms of drug related crime for all areas of law enforcement. This is because individuals who are high on meth can become unpredictable and violent, one of the negative side effects of the drug, and will do anything to get more meth.

It's more pleasant effects are caused by the high releases of dopamine that are created in the brain and central nervous system when someone uses the drug. This rush of dopamine causes a high that is almost like no other, creating an intense euphoria, a shot of adrenaline, and seemingly limitless energy. An individual who is high on meth can go for days and days, just running on meth and pretty much nothing else. These day or even week long meth binges are called "tweeking" in the drug community. "Tweekers", as they are so called, will either ingest by mouth, snort, and smoke or inject meth repeatedly during these binges, and will typically forego eating and sleeping during this time. Once they finally do fall asleep, a tweeker will sleep for days only to wake up and do it all over again.

A meth high can last anywhere from 6 hours to 24 hours, depending on how the drug has been administered. For example, if someone takes a meth pill they may not experience an immediate high or rush but they will experience a more lasting high. At the other side of the spectrum, the injection method provides an intense rush almost immediately as the drug goes straight into the blood stream. The injection high will not last as long as when someone takes the drug orally, but the effects will be much more pronounced.

The dopamine that is released into the brain and central nervous system is known as the body's reward chemical. This is what causes the "feel good" feelings when someone does something they enjoy or eats something that tastes good or makes them feel good like coffee or chocolate. This chemical is also what is triggered when someone takes drugs. This also happens to be the feel good chemical that can induce sexual arousal, particularly when someone takes meth. Meth is known to create an extremely heightened sex drive and lowered sexual inhibitions. When someone takes meth they not only experience an extremely euphoric feeling, accompanied by a surge in energy and stamina, but also experience an intense desire to have sex. As one can imagine, meth use and sexual promiscuity go hand in hand. Individuals who are high on meth will have unprotected sex, sex with several partners, sex with people they don't know, sex with someone who may have a sexually transmitted disease, etc.

Studies have proven that meth users typically have a greater number of sexual partners, and are less likely to use protection. Meth users are more likely to have sex with meth users who have injected meth intravenously. Along with all of these alarming findings, these studies also found that meth users are more likely to have contracted a sexually transmitted disease at some point in their lives. All of these facts and findings add up to one thing; meth users are constantly putting themselves at risk of contracting HIV, which is a primary health problem among meth users today. These risks are compounded partly because individuals who use meth inject the drug using dirty needles. These contaminated needles are commonly used by individuals who have diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis and other blood borne viruses which can be easily transmitted in this manner.

Contracting HIV is particularly likely among individuals high on meth due to the aggressive manner in which meth users have sex. Meth actually deadens certain receptors in the brain that let someone know they are feeling pain. Therefore, meth users tend to engage in rough sex which can creates tears and abrasions which make transmission of HIV even more likely. This is especially true in the gay community, where the use of crystal meth and casual sex is a particular problem, making HIV a particular problem and the biggest health concern in the gay community. This is due to the fact that anal sex can damage the lining of the rectum, making it more likely to tear during anal sex, and increasing the risk of HIV infection.

One of the things which make the problem with meth and HIV even worse is that meth users often experience sexual impotence and erectile dysfunction as a side effect of using the drug. Because of this, men who have sex with other men and are meth users will typically choose to receive receptive anal sex, which makes the risk of contracting HIV much greater. It is not uncommon for male meth users to use the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra recreationally to produce a sustained erection, also increasing the likelihood of contracting HIV.

For meth users who have already contracted HIV, the continued use of meth can pose additional dangers. One of the obvious problems is that someone who is high on meth, yet has HIV, will typically forego taking care of themselves and will not take the proper medications to keep the disease controlled. Studies have also found that meth use may suppress the immune system, which can affect the progression of HIV. Meth has also been found to interact with HIV medications, making them less effective, causing HIV progression and an elevated viral load. As a result, research suggests that meth users who are HIV positive are more likely to develop full blown AIDS and other serious health implications.

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