HEALTH and wellness of mind, body, and spirit begin at home. Breakdown of a family hurts most the children, left at a loss and needing parental stewardship, often turning to peers and friends, and sometimes, to drug use as gesture of defiance and escape from reality of abuse and neglect.
At the outset, here is someone young “with traits of novelty-seeking, reward-dependent, harm-avoidance, and anxious-impulsive. You have somebody with a history of some sort of abuse or neglect that result in one who has an antisocial disorder, ADHD symptoms leading to experimentation with methamphetamine and on to antisocial traits, full blow disorders, borderline traits of full blown borderline personality disorders, narcissistic traits or full-blown disorder and dependence.
Psychosis induced by the extremely addictive stimulant, methamphetamine, “may start off with the basic traits—abuse and neglect, symptoms of paranoia, schizoid personality, schizophrenia, and ADHD,” cites Dr. Salvador Benjamin D. Vista, fellow of the Philippine Psychiatric Association in his presentation at the organization’s forum, ‘Impact of Current Events in Philippine Psychiatry’ held July 29-31 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.
To stamp out the methamphetamine epidemic, he dares health professionals: “Can we ensure an intact family?”
Dr. Vista stresses the need for an intact family that would allow health interventions, and asserts, “Do we talk to parents before the problem starts? Do we talk to them in case parents are off to somewhere else working dollars? Do we go to schools and everywhere there are people to talk of avoidance of abuse and neglect?”
There are about 1.8 million regular users of methamphetamine in the Philippines, he cites and adds “we really need to go beyond just treatment; we need to look into why they become the way they are.”
Of the 200 patients– which might be representative of the nationwide extent of the menace– in a drug rehabilitation facility in Bicutan, it was found that two of every three—67 percent—are in the 11-20 age bracket when they first used methamphetamine; 24 percent were in the 21-30 age group; 10 percent are 31-40 years old; and 3.5 percent were above 41 years old.
Of these numbers, “99 percent were influenced by peers, 1 percent, by a partner, and 34.5 percent pointed to relational problems as perpetuating factor (in drug use). 97 percent had no history of psychological psychiatric management, only 3 percent had a benefit of talking to a counselor or psychiatrist or psychologist.”
This sampling also showed that 63 percent were either abused or neglected— three of every four were not cared for by their parents.
In laboratory tests, prolonged methamphetamine use retards an animal’s ability to detect novel stimuli. In humans, it leads to severe cognitive deterioration. “Long-term use not only resulted in psychosis, but also in the deterioration of general intelligence,” he notes.
Pointing to another study, Dr. Vista cites that female users report “escape from emotional and family problems, coping with mood, losing weight, and acquisition of more energy as reasons for using methamphetamine. Females are significantly more likely to be suicidal, with suicidal behavior reported in 35.9 percent of females.”
Both male and female users reported that “sexual thoughts, behaviors, and activities were enhanced with methamphetamine use.”
“In studying how these individuals’ minds develop, perhaps, we can find a way to enter into it and help them because I thank that is our responsibility as doctors,” he adds.
– DONG AMPIL-DELOS REYES, Medical Observer