Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is very similar in structure to the class of amphetamines. Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug due to its very high potential for abuse and is available only through a prescription that is unable to be refilled. Although methamphetamine rarely can be prescribed by a doctor, its medical uses are majorly limited, and the doses that are prescribed are far lower than those typically abused by users.
Most of the methamphetamine abused in this country comes from foreign and domestic labs, although it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories, where its production endangers the neighbors, people in the labs, and the environment. According to one national survey, approximately 10 million people in the United States have tried methamphetamine at least once.
How is Methamphetamine Used?
Methamphetamine comes in many forms and can be injected, snorted, smoked, or orally ingested. The preferred method of methamphetamine abuse varies by geographical region and has come to change over time. When Methamphetamine is smoked is has a different effect, which leads to very fast uptake of the drug in the brain, and has become more common in recent years, amplifying methamphetamine’s addiction potential and adverse health consequences.
The drug also alters mood in different ways, depending on how it is taken. Immediately after smoking the drug or injecting it intravenously, the user experiences an intense flash or “rush” that lasts only a couple minutes and is often described as extremely pleasurable. Snorting or oral ingestion produces euphoria – a high but not an intense rush. Snorting produces effects within 3 to 5 minutes, and oral ingestion produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes.
What does Methamphetamine look like? Meth can appear as a crystalline powder or in rock-like chunks (known as ‘ice’) that vary in color between white, yellow, brown or pink. Methamphetamine is sometimes died to entice new users with its visual appearance. More often than not a first time users is more likely to try the drug simple based off its attractive appearance.
How Methamphetamine Works
The way that Methamphetamine works inside the brain is by causing euphoria and excitement by acting directly on the brain’s reward mechanisms, which makes it highly addictive. Methamphetamine rapidly enters the brain and causes a cascading release of nor dopamine and epinephrine, as well as serotonin. Users may become obsessive or perform repetitive tasks such as hand-washing, cleaning or assembling and disassembling objects. Withdrawal is often characterized by increased sleeping and eating, as well as depression-like symptoms, often accompanied by drug craving and anxiety. The cravings for the drug can overwhelm a user, and drive them to commit crimes in order to support their habit.
The Abuse of Methamphetamine leads to devastating psychological, medical, and social consequences. Adverse health effects include aggression, memory loss, psychotic behavior, malnutrition, heart damage, and severe dental problems. Methamphetamine abuse also contributes to increased transmission of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, and can infuse whole communities with new waves of unemployment, crime, child neglect or abuse, and many other social ills.
Meth is so powerful and addictive that users easily slip into abuse. Meth abuse is known to create severe mental and physical consequences that include violent behavior, paranoia, skin sores and permanent psychological problems and disorders. The most noticeable physical consequence of meth abuse is the rapid deterioration of the user’s physical appearance. Meth users appear severely aged and develop a condition known as ‘meth mouth,’ named for the collapsed appearance caused by rotting teeth and gums. Meth use can also lead to fatal kidney and lung disorders, death and stroke.
Methamphetamine Facts and Statistics
- An estimated 10.4 million people age 12 or older have tried methamphetamine at some time in their lives. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health)
- 2.8 percent of high school seniors, 2.4 percent of tenth graders, and 2.3 percent of eighth graders have abused methamphetamine at least once. (Monitoring The Future Study, 2008)
- Emergency room visits related to methamphetamine abuse increased 50 percent between 1995 and 2002, and accounted for 4 percent of all drug-related visits in 2004. (Drug Abuse Warning Network)
- Between 1992 and 2004, the number of methamphetamine treatment admissions increased from 21,000 admissions to 150,000 admissions.
Common Side Effects
Physical effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Rapid weight loss
- Skin sores that don’t heal
- Dental deterioration, known as ‘meth mouth’
- Twitching and shaking
- Long periods of sleeplessness followed by long periods of sleep
Psychological effects include:
- Aggression or violent behavior
- Extreme moodiness
- Severe depression
- Homicidal or suicidal thoughts
- Repetitive, obsessive-compulsive behavior
- Delusions of parasites or insects crawling under the skin
Long-term effects include:
- Toxic psychosis
- Extreme paranoia
- Permanent psychological problems
- Behavior resembling paranoid schizophrenia
- Possible brain damage
Help With Meth Abuse
Even with more than 10 million people who have abused methamphetamine, help is available.
According to Narconon treatment programs, full recovery from meth abuse is completely possible with treatment that gets results.
Call 800-468-6933 for more information.
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