Cover Story: Meth Addiction

By Jeff Atkinson - bio | email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield denying all accusations of drug use after NASCAR says Mayfield tested positive again for methamphetamine.  In our Cover Story, how additing is meth and what are the warning signs?

In the life of an admitted meth addict-- the changes are dramatic.

Witness college student Eva Piatt.. convicted several years ago of cooking up meth in her south Charlotte townhome.

She holds the dubious distinction of operating the first meth lab discovered in Mecklenburg county.

"My life was in downward spiral," Piatt says.

Like cocaine, meth comes in two forms: powder or rock.. a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system.

Meth can be made in a homemade lab.. the key ingredient found in over-the-counter cold medicines.

Flay Lee is Vice President of Clinical Services at Hope Haven.. a residential complex on North Tryon that provides addiction recovery to homeless men and women in Charlotte.

Lee has treated meth addicts and says once meth gets in the brain it becomes a higly-addictive drug.

He says, "It's just a short time of a high of a rush then it starts popping back.. like I want some more. I want some more and that's what causes all of the behavior changes in an individual and causes that addiction phase to start."

These signs and behaviors.. doctors say are associated with long term meth abuse. (Signs are extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances and violent behavior.)

Often you'll see drastic changes in an individual's eating or sleeping habits.. as well as changes in his or her mood patterns.

Lee believes it's not a drug that one can casually use.

"To me, I think I'm going to go out and do some meth tonight. No that's just no way that's going to happen."  Because of its addictive nature, he says.

Use appears to be more widespread in rural areas.. and the western United States.

This young man became addicted and got clean.. now performs a musical he wrote to try to help others.

"It will be something I struggle with the rest of my life."

A stuggle that addiction specialist Flay Lee says can spillover beyond the addict.

"I worry about the family. I worry about the children and the community as a whole. Because if you don't understand it and have a clear definition of what it can do to your body then it can be deadly."