Meth is a stimulant, which causes moments of psychedelic euphoria and the loss of inhibition. The effects of meth include, but are not limited to: moodiness, irritability, aggressiveness, paranoia, violent behavior, depression and suicidal tendencies. The continued use of meth can result in tooth loss, as well as kidney, lung and brain damage. Frequently, users of meth die from liver damage, stroke and heart attacks. Those who don’t die, live a life full of addiction and crime to fuel their addiction.
One of the less thought about side effects of Methamphetamine use is that it has the potential of spreading disease among users and their peers through intravenous use. The spreading of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis create a real and present danger. Often times these effects go unnoticed until the effects of the disease run rampant amongst users and their partners.
The prevalence of meth in society has grown tremendously. As an example, in 2000 there were 5,582 pounds of meth seized by federal authorities, compared to 17,489 in 2009. This has resulted in one of the highest increases in drug seizures by federal authorities. A 32% overall increase in seizures has resulted in federal and state governments becoming very concerned with the increased use and distribution of meth. State and Federal authorities have moved the problem of meth production to the front of the line.
Many times, the result of continued meth use and addiction leads to criminal behavior due to the lack of inhibitions and the need to fuel their addiction. From 1990-2008 there has been a dramatic increase in the number of incarcerations in both state and federal detention facilities. In 1990 there were 773,919 prisoners housed in state and federal facilities, compared to 1,609,606 in 2008. This is an increase of over 48% over 28 years.
Over the years, prison overpopulation has been the topic of conversation at both the federal and state levels. Funding for these institutions has been cut with prison guards and detention centers being on the chopping block. If this is going to be the new trend for years to come, something must be implemented to address the overpopulation of inmates and the cuts in funding. Drug Courts are a prime example of an alternative to incarceration. Drug courts can be defined as "special court calendars or dockets designed to achieve a reduction in recidivism and substance abuse among nonviolent, substance abusing offenders by increasing their likelihood for successful rehabilitation through early, continuous, and intense judicially supervised treatment; mandatory periodic drug testing; and the use of appropriate sanctions and other rehabilitation services." As part of the drug courts process, non-violent offenders can have the opportunity to undergo long term treatment and counseling, minimal sanctions and frequent court appearances to monitor their progress. Upon successful completion of drug court, sentences may be reduced, penalties may be less and there may be a complete dismissal of the charges. Many are under the belief that drug courts are the answer to prison overcrowding.
Overcrowding in prison and jails has become such an issue, that more attention needs to be devoted to alternative forms of punishment and rehabilitation. Drug courts are a proven example of a viable alternative to incarceration. Around the United States, drug courts are an increasing alternative that are being explored. It is comforting to know that many are open minded enough to fund and explore this form of rehabilitation. It is possible that a generational issue will keep drug courts from expanding like they should. There is still a very large population that wants and "eye for an eye." I think both sides have to come together and at least agree on the fact that something must be done because the current methods are not working.
(http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/methamph/methamph.html). (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0325.pdf). (http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/meth/meth_timeline.php(http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0344.pdf).