Clandestine laboratories, dynamic systems and the deep social impact of methamphetamine abuse in Oklahoma

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John Duncan


Ranking third behind California and Missouri on the total number of clandestine laborato­ries seized by law enforcement officers, Oklahoma has the highest number of illegal meth­amphetamine laboratories per capita in the United States. This paper examines the deep social impact of the recent outbreak of clandestine laboratories in Oklahoma and the cor­responding rise in methamphetamine abuse. Because methamphetamine genetically re­structures the human brain, neurophysiological morbidity associated with chronic abuse reveals damage to the limbic system, which, in turn, is associated with correlative behav­ioral problems in abusers that has been characterized as clinically indistinguishable from paranoid-schizophrenia. A useful way of describing how these structural and functional changes in the brain (as a dynamic system) can have overarching effects, both in the individual and society, is the form of analysis known as 'chaos theory'. From this perspec­tive, the behavioral changes are analogous to 'strange attractors' of a chaos theory model, which vividly illustrates the overall impact of methamphetamine abuse on both the individual's quality of life and the lasting effect on the social world.

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