Methamphetamine (meth) is one of the biggest threats the United States is facing today. It contributes to many violent crimes and taxes the efforts of law enforcement and other authorities. The drug is widely available throughout the country, especially in Midwest and West.
Some individuals become addicted to the substance after just one use. Meth releases three times as much dopamine than cocaine does, signifying just how addictive it may be.
Abusing meth means receiving a much higher rush of dopamine compared to what is normally and naturally released by the brain. This strengthens the abusive behavior of the drug and increases the likelihood of binge using.
This drug generates feelings of alertness, euphoria, and confidence, which create strong effects on the brain’s reward system. Once this reward system is rewired, the cravings for this substance may dominate an individual’s life.
Recovering from an addiction to meth is extremely difficult, given how it hijacks the brain’s reward system and impairs a person’s healthy decision-making process. Meth withdrawal symptoms may also be life-threatening.
Thus, it is important for a person to enter a meth rehab program to help him or her break the cycle of abuse.
Meth is one of the names for methamphetamine. Other names for meth include chalk, ice, speed, crank, redneck cocaine, tina, crystal, or glass. The drug may be produced legally or illegally.
Legal methamphetamine is a prescription drug used by people with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also prescribed to treat obesity in cases where other treatments have been ineffective. Legal, prescription methamphetamine is known by the brand name Desoxyn and has the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Illicit or illegal meth generally comes in the form of white, odorless powder. It can be injected, snorted, or taken orally. The substance dissolves easily in water and tastes bitter. Crystal meth is an incredibly potent and highly addictive form of meth which consists of small, bluish-white rocks. Given its crystal-like appearance, some say that crystal meth looks like glass fragments.
Many try the drug out of curiosity, to achieve weight loss, or to achieve a feeling of being high. Some use the drug because of the euphoria and energy it gives without regard to its ill effects.
Meth Effects and Abuse
Illicit uses of meth qualify as abuse. When meth is ingested, inhaled, or smoked, it produces an adrenaline rush caused by increases in the blood pressure and heart rate as well as the activation of brain neurotransmitters that induce pleasure. This rush produces strong effects that may last for about thirty minutes.
Once the initial rush subsides, users still experience a steady high that lasts for four to twelve hours. The duration of this feeling depends upon the mode of consumption. Injecting the substance yields a more powerful high compared to snorting or smoking, but the effects of this method of consumption fade more quickly.
Among the effects of meth are:
- Loss of appetite
These effects, plus its easy availability, may encourage individuals to binge on meth. People who take the drug for several days may stay high all throughout that time. But with prolonged use, the drug does not produce the same effects. This is when users increase their dosage to get high.
Signs of Meth Abuse
There are telltale signs to determine if a person is abusing meth. In fact, sometimes the physical manifestations of someone who is meth dependent are difficult to ignore. Among the signs to watch for are:
- Body sores
- Intense acne
- Increased libido
- Massive weight loss
- Problems with the teeth and gums (meth mouth)
Increased sexual appetite coupled with the inability to recognize risks make the person vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
One of the more obvious symptoms is a condition that is known as meth mouth. This condition is characterized by rotting and failing teeth as well as diseased gums. According to the American Dental Association, more than 9 in 10 meth abusers suffer from different types of cavities, while more than 5 in 10 have untreated oral diseases.
Also, people who abuse meth may also experience massive weight loss. That is because meth is an appetite suppressant.
Dangers of Meth
Taking meth is dangerous to one’s health. This fact is widely known. Despite this knowledge, some people still experiment with the drug and eventually become hooked on it. Long-term use of the substance may create serious consequences. Some of the dangers include brain damage and heart disease.
Meth increases the user’s heart rate and blood pressure. Taking large quantities of the drug may cause seizures, overheating, loss of consciousness, or even comas. If people do not immediately receive medical attention during these instances, the effects may be fatal.
The drug also destroys the brain’s nerve terminals that release dopamine. This causes meth dependency and behavioral changes. This damage may not be a big cause of concern since it may be naturally reversed once the user quits taking meth. But it can take several months before the damage is repaired. Users may also undergo strong meth withdrawal symptoms that may be physical and psychological.
Among the potential psychological withdrawal symptoms that must treated is severe depression. Some people who suffer from this condition kill themselves. The severity of this condition indicates why people should undergo meth treatment at a drug rehabilitation center.
Immediate Side Effects of Meth Abuse
Ingesting or smoking meth produces certain effects that may last between four to twelve hours. This period is quite long compared to other substances. Within this time, people may experience side effects such as:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Decreased appetite
- Increased breathing rate
- Flushed or itchy skin
- Chest pain