Drug Class: CNS stimulant
Methamphetamine, otherwise known as “meth” or “crystal meth“, is a powerful stimulant of the amphetamine class of drugs. Its most common effects include increased alertness, concentration, energy, inducing euphoria, enhancing self-esteem, and increasing libido. Methamphetamine carries a high addictive liability. It works by activating the reward system in the brain (the mesolimbic dopamine system), triggering the release of dopamine and norepinephrine. In pharmaceutical form, methamphetamine is FDA approved for the treatment of ADHD and obesity, sold in the United States under the brand name Desoxyn™. Meth is a synthetically produced drug that has become an epidemic in American society, destroying lives and tearing families apart.
- Street terms:
- Methods of ingestion:
- oral ingestion.
- In 2002, over 12 million people in the US aged 12 and over reported trying methamphetamine at least once in their lives. Of these, over 590,000 reported having used meth in the past month.
- Common dangers include addiction, brain damage, and psychotic behavior.
- Chronic use can cause confusion, anxiety, violent behavior, delusions, paranoia, insomnia, and hallucinations.
- Damage to the brain caused by methamphetamine use is similar to that of strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and epilepsy.
- Snorting meth affects the user within 5 minutes. Oral ingestion takes about 20 minutes for the effects to take hold.
- Side effects include convulsions, high body temperature, shaking, stomach cramps and cardiac arrhythmia.
- Chronic use can also cause inflammation of the heart lining. For those injecting the drug, damaged blood vessels and skin abscesses.
- Overdose can cause hyperthermia and convulsions. If left untreated, it can result in death.
- Injection also causes a raised chance of contracting the HIV/AIDS virus from an infected needle.
Meth goes by many names including speed, crank, chalk, go-fast, and zip. The purer crystal methamphetamine is sometimes called shards, ice, crystal, glass, christy or quartz. Meth is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system and works on the brain and spinal cord by interfering with the normal neurotransmission process. Meth is illegally produced and then sold in capsules, pills, powder, and chunks. Methamphetamine was originally developed as a derivative of the parent drug amphetamine. In an earlier time, it was frequently found in nasal decongestants, bronchial inhalers and used in the treatment of narcolepsy and obesity.
Meth Addiction Ruins Lives
Methamphetamine is highly addictive. While meth users are likely to use alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, the use of meth alone is also very common. The average user is frequently a student, both college and high school or white blue collared workers or unemployed individuals in their 20s and 30s. It’s been found that athletes and students tend to begin using meth because of the physical and heightened rush they receive in the beginning of usage. The Blue collar and service workers may use meth to have the energy to work extra shifts, while young women still seem to begin using meth as a means to lose weight. Still, others take meth recreationally to stay energized at parties and other social activities. Meth also plays a big role in the homosexual scene, believed to be for heightened sexual performance. The appeal of meth also lies in its price. It’s less expensive and easier to get than cocaine and unfortunately, once meth has been abused a couple of times, addiction is most likely, and meth addiction is one of psychosis with hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, extreme fatigue, aggression, and severe mood swings.
Meth tales effects on a user in many other different ways. Common reactions to meth include pupil dilation, dizziness, tooth grinding, loss of appetite, dry, itchy skin, impaired speech, acne, sores, and numbness. However, those are just the mild side effects. In addition to those listed above, a person suffering from meth addiction over a long period of time can suffer fatal kidney and lung disorders, liver damage, blood clots, and brain damage. Psychologically, side effects include violent and aggressive behavior, depression, disturbed personality development and a condition known as methamphetamine psychosis. This disorder is similar to paranoid psychosis and is similar to schizophrenia.
It takes relatively small amounts, 50 mg of pure methamphetamine for the non-tolerant drug abuser, for an overdose to occur. There’s no such thing as a safe level of use, as strengths and ingredients of homemade meth vary from person to person and batch to batch. An overdose of meth is categorized by a high fever, convulsions and a collapse of the cardiovascular system that could lead to death. Heavy physical exertion while using meth increases its hazards.
Signs of Meth Addiction
Signs of meth addiction are generally evident when observing a meth user. They may appear anxious, nervous or talk continuously. There may be extreme moodiness as well as irritability. Repetitious behavior such as picking at their skin or nails or pulling out their own hair is also a common clue. The meth abuser will have trouble sleeping, act out in aggressive or violent ways for no apparent reason, display a false feeling of confidence and power. As with other addictions, they may have lost interest in activities they used to enjoy and can suffer from severe depression and mood swings.
Meth Addiction Treatment
Several different motivators can send a person with meth addiction to seek help. Perhaps it’s the intervention of family or friends, or it’s financial problems that send the user to rehab. For any addict, the cost associated with maintaining the addiction eventually causes financial unmanageability. The cost of buying or making the drug while not working can dwindle a person’s reserves. Another thing inherent to addiction is legal unmanageability. The degrees to which addicts will go to get meth or their drug of choice often lands them behind bars and without their freedoms. In many cases of meth addicts who have been arrested on drug charges, the sentence ends up being time spent in a drug treatment program in lieu of prison time. Most often, these drug treatment programs are state or county-funded with little resources to provide a quality program. It is drug addiction treatment programs like these that many meth addicts are forced into because they don’t have the money to pay for private treatment. Unless a meth addict is extremely determined and focused, it is very unlikely to achieve sobriety from meth addiction when surrounded by addicts in addiction treatment for no other reason than to avoid going to prison.
Meth addiction could easily be one of the hardest of addiction problems to treat. The meth addict is often extremely excitable and very resistant to addiction treatment. Meth addicts know all too well the extreme lows they feel when they are not using or high on meth. That deep feeling of depression, anxiety, angst, insomnia, fatigue, and aggression is something anyone would avoid to the best of their ability. For meth addicts who love the rush and indestructible feeling, they get while high on meth, the thought of not having it and suffering through meth withdrawals horrifying. It is not until a meth addict has essentially lost everything there is to lose before he or she will be ready to try to make a change. And even after losing everything, many meth addicts simply cannot stop using and continue to live under the thumb of meth addiction with constant arrests, homelessness, disease, hunger, and darkness.
Once a meth addict does see that it is time to make a change and stay sober from meth addiction, there are many options available for meth addiction treatment. Like any other drug addiction, meth addiction causes side effects and withdrawal when the drug is no longer present in the body. Meth addicts with experience periods of moodiness, insomnia, fatigue, high fever, sweating, and anxiety. In some cases of meth detoxification, meth addicts will be given minor tranquilizers, or benzodiazepines to slow the central nervous system and help them sleep through the detox process, which can last anywhere from 5-10 days.
After detoxification has been completed, it up to the meth addict in recovery to keep meth out of reach and stay away from negative influences. The best start is to enter into a residential drug addiction treatment center where a meth addict can be safe from negative influences in friends and familiar situations. Drug addiction treatment allows an addict time to get accustomed to living without meth addiction before entering back into the real world where in reality meth is everywhere.
Meth addiction recovery is a difficult path to follow, but there are many support mechanisms available to assist a meth addict on his/her way to sobriety from addiction. If you or someone you know is suffering from meth addiction or needs help to maintain recovery from meth addiction, please call us for immediate help and a live caring professional will take your call and help you find the resources to best assist you. We are here to help.