Wednesday, April 9, 2008
This weekend we generously provided entertainment for our ER guests in the form of Meth Heads.
Meth users (Tweakers) are a whole different type of patient than the usual gomers that clog my beds. Meth users are usually brought in by police after their paranoid behavior has scared your Average Joe and they called 911 to get them dealt with. Or by families that are in fear of losing their loved one from the extreme weight loss, physical deterioration,depression or during one of their crimes sprees that support their habit.
Tweakers are not easy patients to take care of. Almost 100% end up in restraints for their own safety and ours. They are extremely paranoid, psychotic, have gone days without sleep, are aggressive and confused. They are convinced that everyone is out to get them, including the patients next to them. They hide behind the curtains and doors to their rooms and skittish when you make a movement towards them. They hear voices and see the boogy man around every corner.
There is nothing I can give a tweaker to reverse their symptoms except time. Don't get me wrong I can always sedate them,but by the time they cross my ER threshold they are in the advanced stages of addiction and the damage they have done to their brains is permanent, not to mention what they have done to their appearance..meth mouth, mite-bites all over their skin, and the dramatic weight loss.
Even if I were to sedate them, when it wore off they would still be in the same condition. It can take months to years for their dopamine and other neurotransmitters to start working again. They will spend that time in severe depression,have parkinson's like symptom, at high risk for suicide and relapse.
What makes this drug so hideous is that people get hooked from the first hit because of the huge rush/high they get. But what is used to make this drug destroys the pleasure center in the brain. Plummenting these addicts into deep despair, causing them to use more and more Meth more often to try and achieve that first high and pull themselves out of the hell they find themselves in. A viscious cycle that goes round and round.
It is during this cycle that they come to our ER, and sadly entertain my other patients. I wish during these shows I could gather together the communities youth so they can see how glamorous and cool this drug is. Line up the chairs and hand out the popcorn.. I guarantee the drug use would go down.
Lye-Ether-Iodine-Draino-Ephedrine-Battery Acid-Paint Thinner-Brake/Lighter Fluid-Acetone-Amnonia-Red Phosphorous(road flares)-Lithium Batteries-Cold Medicine