Meth's Insidious Appeal: Sex
Officials Battle Market for Methamphetamine by Focusing on Misery
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - At a recent task force meeting on the epidemic of methamphetamine use in Appalachia, Gov. Phil Bredesen winced when a federal prosecutor described the illegal drug as an aphrodisiac.
Doctors and government officials don't like to talk much about it, but there is an obvious reason people get hooked on methamphetamine: sex.
Meth boosts sexual appetite and performance more powerfully than drugs such as cocaine before it eventually destroys the sex drive entirely, doctors say. "Who wouldn't want to use it? You lose weight and you have great sex," Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Laymon said sarcastically at the meeting of the Tennessee task force. Government officials want to focus on the misery meth causes.
Using the drug can cause brain damage, violent behavior and hallucinations, and exposure to the potentially explosive vapors while making meth can cause respiratory problems, headaches and nausea. Dr.
Mary Holley, an obstetrician who runs a Mothers Against Methamphetamine ministry in Albertville, Ala., and has interviewed male and female meth addicts, said sex is the No. 1 reason people use it. "The effect of an IV hit of methamphetamine is the equivalent of 10 orgasms all on top of each other lasting for 30 minutes to an hour, with a feeling of arousal that lasts for another day and a half," she said. The effect doesn't last long. "After you have been using it about six months or so, you can't have sex unless you are high,"
Holley said. "After you have been using it a little bit longer, you can't have sex even when you're high. Nothing happens.
It doesn't work." Dr. John Standridge, an addiction specialist with the Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services in Chattanooga, said meth and other stimulants initially "rev up the dopamine nervous system in the brain.
They rev it up and burn it out." A 2002 National Institute on Drug Abuse survey on drug use and health found that 12.4 million Americans at least 12 years old had tried meth at least once -- about 5 percent of the population. A total of 1,083 clandestine methamphetamine labs were cleaned up in Tennessee in 2003, more than in any other state.
A meth task force Bredesen appointed is urging tougher penalties and expanded treatment.