A new study unveils the severe, widespread impact the illegal drug methamphetamine is having on Iowans. Doctor Jim Hall, a pediatrics professor at the University of Iowa, says meth abuse admissions in Iowa are nearly four times the national average. Dr. Hall says Iowa has the nation’s second highest number of admissions for meth treatment, ranking Iowa behind only California, a state that has a much larger population. Hall’s team studied whether meth abusers should be sent into specialized treatment programs to get “clean,” much like alcoholics or cocaine addicts.Hall says the research did -not- support special treatment for meth but because of the impact of meth on the brain, the study does recommend more treatment for meth addicts in intensive outpatient or residential drug treatment than currently occurs. Most adult residential drug treatment programs — the essential first stop for breaking an addiction — have been shortened from 45 or 30 days to only ten to 14. Most state and insurance programs will not pay for treatment beyond two weeks. He says meth has a very lasting, very detrimental impact on the brain, impairing brain function for up to six months after one use.Between 1992 and ’99, a federal study finds admissions to meth abuse treatment programs more than doubled in the U.S. — from nearly 14 people per 100-thousand to 32 per 100-thousand. In Iowa, the rate was much higher, at 118 people per 100-thousand. Dr. Hall says he has a message to anyone who thinks meth might provide an escape from their problems. He says don’t use meth — it has the most negative consequences of all the drugs they’ve studied. He says meth can do greater damage to a person’s physical, behavioral and thinking functions than many other illicit drugs or alcohol.
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