As a complement to our June newsletter which focuses on methamphetamines in the workplace, our latest article gives a more detailed and in-depth look at methamphetamines, their use in Australia, chemical composition, dangers and effects – all of which has the potential to adversely impact your industry and business and undermine systemically developed health and safety strategies.
Methamphetamine or D-N-methylamphetamine has risen to prominence over the past decade or so in Australia and is known to have infiltrated a number of industries – particularly where shift work and added alertness or long hours is a component of the job. Like its precursor – amphetamines – it costs far less than heroin or cocaine and is also easier to get. It is also relatively easy to synthesise, which would undoubtedly contribute to its prevalence and widespread use. Statistically, almost one-in-ten Australians have tried it at least once and around half a million Australians have tried it in the past year.
In 2005, the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s PM Program announced the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre’s latest study into drugs and their usage. The study revealed that there has been an alarming spike in methamphetamine usage in the past ten years and that the numbers revealed almost twice as many people were hooked on the stimulant than the number on heroin. The report author, Doctor Rebecca McKetin stated that one of the prime concerns about methamphetamines was its pervasiveness. “It’s prevalent across the entire country, much more so than what we have seen of heroin in the past.”
The effects can be both physiological and psychological:
- Increased libido, energy and alertness
- Increased heart rate, breathing rate and temperature
- Irregular heartbeat
- Reduced appetite including malnutrition
- Abdominal cramps
- Sweating, nervousness
- Paranoia, hallucinations
- Chronic use can lead to meth induced psychosis – paranoia, hallucinations, aggressive, violent and erratic behaviour.
In view of psychosis, “it has been estimated that the prevalence of psychosis is 11 times higher among regular methamphetamine users than among the general population, and that 23% of regular uses of the drug will experience symptoms of psychosis within a given year.”
One of the dangers for workplaces is the event of psychosis around other employees on-site. The segregation and isolation of users experiencing psychosis is so extreme, St. Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department in Sydney’s Darlinghurst has installed a padded isolation cell for patients either coming down from the drug or dangerously “high.”
Signs of methamphetamine use in the workplace may include:
- Discarded syringes
- Discarded burnt foil sheets
- Glass pipes for smoking
- Small plastic stamp packets
Signs of psychosis in the workplace may include:
- Highly aggressive behaviour
- Extreme threat to another employee
- Skin picking and scratching
- Unable to focus
- Verbal outbursts
- Oppositionally defiant behaviour towards managers or supervisor
- Hallucinatory ravings or references to objects or people “not there.”
CMM Technology is able to offer testing technologies that adequately screen for amphetamines and methamphetamines. If you have a concern about this substance in your workplace environment and require help in the selection of appropriate and suitable testing kits and equipment suited to your specific requirements, please call CMM Technology.
CMM Technology 618 9204 2500
 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: Detailed Findings (2005a) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra. AIHW cat. no. PHE 66. http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467715
 Methamphetamines Position Paper. http://www.ancd.org.au/images/PDF/Positionpapers/pp_methamphetamines.pdf