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Meth

About Meth Addiction

 

What is meth?

Methamphetamine is one of the most dangerous street drugs in the world. Most often used as a party drug, it stimulates feelings of pleasure, energy, euphoria, and confidence. Although most people begin using meth for partying, or for a burst of energy to help with a difficult task, this highly addictive substance frequently sinks its teeth into the individual.

Some other names for methamphetamine are crystal meth, speed, crank, ice, and glass. In medical form, methamphetamine can be used to treat symptoms of ADHD. However, in its street drug form, crystal meth, there’s no medical purpose. Meth can be smoked, snorted, or injected.

Methamphetamine affects users by stimulating dopamine release. Dopamine is well-known as the neurotransmitter that triggers our pleasure response. Meth increases the flow of dopamine in the brain, and then sustains that high by preventing reabsorption. This process creates a high that usually lasts from six to eight hours. However, it can last for as long as 24 hours.

Health risks & long-term effects

Methamphetamine is made with dangerous chemicals that quickly take their toll on the user. Constantly elevated heart rates can lead to chronic heart conditions, and increased risk of heart attack.

Someone who is addicted to methamphetamine will begin showing physical signs. Reduced flow of saliva and malnutrition leads to tooth loss and “meth mouth.” Malnutrition also leads to weight loss and hair loss. A common side effect of meth use is skin-picking, which leads to sores and rashes all over the body.

However, some of the most alarming effects of meth are mental. Methamphetamine can trigger psychosis, memory impairment, and handicapped judgement. These effects, coupled with the obsession to obtain the next fix, can lead to very dangerous behavior, from violent, erratic stunts, to risky sexual activity, and criminal activity.

One of the most dangerous things about meth is that the mental effects are not temporary. Long-term methamphetamine abuse can lead to impaired motor skills and reduced verbal learning skills. It can increase your risk of stroke, and even Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms of psychosis, including paranoia, repetitive motor activity, and hallucinations can continue for months and even years after a patient has gotten clean.

Meth and motivation

One of the most notable things about meth addiction is that it immediately becomes THE dominant factor in a person’s life. Individuals tend to lose interest in activities that used to be enjoyable. Even worse, they can lose interest in things that are essential to survival, and even go long periods of time without sleep or food because obtaining the drug is more important than anything else.

This has a scientific basis. Neurotransmitters in the brain reroute to respond to methamphetamine, and nothing else. Therefore, things that are important to survival no longer trigger the reward center that motivates you to continue in behavior that will nourish and sustain you. Instead, it calls for more and more of the drug in order to feel good, or even normal.

Signs that someone is abusing

Because meth is so harmful to the body, and so dominant in an addict’s lifestyle, it’s full of signs that someone is using. This might include skin, hair, and mouth damage, weight loss, loss of interest in things that used to be important, paranoia, jitteriness, and intense energy followed by powerful crashes, wherein someone can’t stay awake no matter how hard they try.

Meth use is also usually accompanied by drug paraphernalia, including burned spoons, needles, lighters, and the drug itself, which appears as a crystalline powder (like rock salt) either white or some shade of pinkish or beige.

What to do if someone you love is abusing meth

Meth is a very damaging and highly addictive substance. If someone you know is using, it’s important that they know that it is a big deal. Encourage them to seek professional counseling and health care.

It’s also very important to consistently reach out to your loved one with compassion and support. Let them know that they have someone who cares about them and how they’re doing. Invite them to positive drug-free experiences as much as possible.