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‘P’ trapping people in a cycle of addiction

Wellington, Wednesday 29 October 2003

Salvation Army comments on Queen Mary Hospital closure…

‘P’ trapping people in a cycle of addiction

Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive synthetic stimulant commonly used as a recreational drug. It produces euphoria and an overall feeling of wellbeing. However, this high is often followed by frighteningly inaccurate perceptions of reality and paranoid thought. Users become irritable, anxious, depressed and even suicidal, and their paranoia can cause them to react aggressively and violently.

Rates of ‘P’ addiction are high and its effects can be horrific. One of the key concerns is the unpredictability of a person’s behaviour when under its influence. One user seen by a Salvation Army social worker believed their skin was crawling with burrowing insects and that they must tear off flesh to remove them. Another addict thought his wife was sent from the devil and must be beaten to a pulp. For those who have to deal with ‘P’ users, the level of danger increases significantly.

As a person increases their use of ‘P’, higher doses are needed to produce the same euphoric effect. This becomes a vicious cycle that can produce physical and psychological dependence. Physically, the body experiences unpleasant side effects if the drug isn’t being used. Psychologically, they ‘crave’ it, just to feel ‘normal’.

What are people seeking when they choose to use any mood-altering substance, be it alcohol or other drugs? Those working in the field of addiction identify common themes of loneliness, low self worth, rejection and trauma associated with addiction. Sometimes alcohol and other drugs are taken to mask pain, which they do effectively—for a time. But there are also very dismaying trends where young people in particular indulge in substance abuse for fun or a thrill, or to experiment because ‘all’ their peer group are doing it.

The danger is that people who have otherwise normal lives are being trapped in a cycle of addiction. These are often accomplished and successful people who never believed it would happen to them.

Risk-taking behaviour such as alcohol and drug use is a fact of society today. But as the variety of drugs and opportunities to access them increase, so too will the impact on our society. Those who experience the effects of this impact will not be the people at the remote edges of our community but all of us.


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