Methamphetamine Drug Facts - What You Need to Know

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What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine drug facts that you need to know. The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that methamphetamine is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that affects a person's central nervous system. It's often called crystal, ice, blue, speed, or meth, and it looks white and odorless and appears shiny like glass fragments. 

However, the crystalized powder is bitter and dissolves easily in alcohol or water.

Methamphetamine was initially developed during the 20th century from amphetamine. It was found in bronchial inhalers and various nasal decongestants. Like amphetamine, the methamphetamine caused increased talkativeness and activity, a pleasurable euphoric feeling, and decreased appetite.

Related article: How Does Drug Addiction Impact Your Health?

Are Methamphetamine and amphetamine the same?

Methamphetamine isn't the same as amphetamine in that, at a comparable dose, more of the drug gets into the brain. Therefore, it's more potent than other stimulants. With that, the effects are more harmful and longer-lasting. Such characteristics make methamphetamine have a high potential for misuse (abuse).

The US DEA has classified methamphetamine as a Schedule II stimulant. Therefore, it's only legally available through prescription, which cannot be refilled.

How Do People Use Methamphetamine?

Medically, meth (methamphetamine) can be indicated for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or short-term weight loss, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, most doctors do not prescribe it. With that, the prescribed dose is often lower than what people use when misusing the drug.

Methamphetamine comes in many forms, so it's abused and used in various ways. People can inject, snort, smoke, and swallow it. Generally, the geographic region determines the method of using the stimulant drug. Many times, people binge on methamphetamine, giving up sleep and food while taking the drug for several days every few hours.

Is Methamphetamine Addictive?

Yes, methamphetamine is actually highly addictive. Whenever a person stops taking it, they experience withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of anxiousness

How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Brain?

When someone uses methamphetamine, extra dopamine gets released into the brain, making the user feel high. Unlike with normal brain function, this dopamine isn't recycled and stored for later use, which over-stimulates the person's brain. The dopamine remains in the user's bodies until the person's high wears off and gets replaced with unpleasant feelings. 

To continue the dopamine high and avoid the crash, users want more and more of this drug (methamphetamine) at higher doses.

Many people use methamphetamine recreationally because it offers a long-standing high with a state of euphorbia lasting 12 hours or more. However, it provides various psychological and physical health risks. Using it for long periods can cause a decline in the person's IQ, cause irreversible damage to the body's nerve cells, and induce a psychosis-like state.

The brain has neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that send messages throughout the body. Methamphetamine affects those transmitters, but dopamine is the most effective. Dopamine is the pleasure neurotransmitter involved, and when triggered, it sends various pleasure signals to be stored.

Related article: How Does Drug Addiction Impact Your Health?

Short Term Effects

The shorter-term effects of using methamphetamine can include:

  • Hyperthermia
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Increased respiration
  • Euphoria and a rush
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased wakefulness and activity
  • Decreased fatigue and increased attention

Long Term Effects of Methamphetamine

The long-term effects of using methamphetamine abuse have various negative consequences, such as addiction. This is a relapsing and chronic disease, which is characterized by compulsive drug use to molecularly change the brain.

With that, people who use methamphetamine for the longer term can show signs of:

  • Confusion
  • Significant anxiety
  • Violent behavior
  • Mood disturbances
  • Insomnia
  • Psychotic features (paranoia, delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations)
  • Increased distractibility
  • Deficits in motor and thinking skills
  • Changes in brain function and structure
  • Severe memory loss

Long Term Effects of Methamphetamine on Your Body

long-term-effects-of-methamphetamine-on-your-health-and-life

There are many physical issues regarding the use of methamphetamine long-term, such as:

  • Severe tooth decay (meth mouth)
  • Weight Loss
  • Skin sores
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Boost in body temperature

Typically, severe dental problems (meth mouth) are caused by poor dental hygiene and nutrition. Often, meth mouth starts with dry mouth, and teeth grinding might be a concern.

Skin sores often result from using methamphetamine because of people scratching and picking their skin to remove hallucinogenic insects and other crawling things.

Though the long-term effects of using methamphetamine are significant, many people experience increased blood pressure with prolonged use. This could result in a stroke or heart attack. The body cannot keep going at such levels, which means a heart attack is likely. With that, a boost in anxiety and violent behavior might make people more susceptible.

A few studies have shown that there's a link between Parkinson's Disease and methamphetamine addiction. With that, it could cause a premature onset of PD to happen.

Related article: Alcohol Rehab Center Florida | What Are The Harmful Effects of Alcohol?

What Are Other Health Effects of Methamphetamine?

Many tell-tale signs indicate someone is using methamphetamine. Typically, those suffering from this highly addictive drug have physical symptoms involving the person's skin. Methamphetamine abuse can destroy a person's blood vessels, so the body can't heal itself. With that, it constricts blood flow, so the skin can lose elasticity and color. Other health problems can include:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Disorientation
  • Abusing other drugs and alcohol
  • Destroyed blood vessels
  • Cognitive problems (those involved with learning, remembering, understanding, and thinking)

It is dangerous to use methamphetamine in the form of powder or anything else. With that, severe changes may also affect the areas of a person's brain involved with emotions. However, some brain changes may end up reversing after a year or so after stopping the use of methamphetamine.

Are There Health Effects from Exposure to Secondhand Methamphetamine Smoke?

Researchers aren't yet sure if people breathing methamphetamine smoke secondhand could get high or have health issues. However, being exposed to second hand methamphetamine smoke can make that person test positive for the drug. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people worry about secondhand smoke.

It is fully known that methamphetamine is dangerous. It's nearly impossible to recover and requires specific and specialized treatment. Therefore, those involved with people using methamphetamine should not be around them during usage.

Can a Person Overdose on Methamphetamine?

Yes, people can overdose while using methamphetamine. The overdose happens when a person uses too much of the drug and has an extensive and toxic reaction that results in harmful problems or even death.

In some cases, cheap and dangerous synthetic products are added to methamphetamine without anyone knowing. In 2017, roughly 15 percent of drug overdose deaths involved methamphetamine.

Related article: The Impact Drug or Alcohol Overdose Has On The Body

How Can a Methamphetamine Overdose be Treated?

how-can-methamphetamine-overdose-be-treated

Since a methamphetamine overdose often leads to organ problems, heart attack, or a stroke, first responders and ER doctors must try to treat the condition relating to the overdose. The intent here is to:

  • Treat organ problems
  • Restore blood flow to the person's heart
  • Restore blood flow

How Is Methamphetamine Addiction Treated?

Though researchers are involved in ways to better treat the effects of methamphetamine addiction, there aren't any government-approved medications available. The good news here is methamphetamine misuse is preventable, and drug addiction can be treated using behavioral therapies. The most effective and best treatments for methamphetamine addiction include:

Intense cognitive behavioral therapy

Patients recognize, cope with, and avoid the situations most likely to trigger the drug abuse

Motivational incentives

Small cash rewards and vouchers can encourage people to remain drug-free.

Research also continues to develop new treatments and medications for methamphetamine use, such as noninvasive brain stimulation through magnetic fields, vaccines, and more. People can recover from their methamphetamine addiction if they've got appropriate access to effective treatments to address the various personal and medical problems resulting from long-term usage.

Since recovery is possible, people need to get the right resources and avoid an overdose. Their health is at stake, though many people start using methamphetamines for various reasons.

Related article: The Different Types of Treatment Programs in Rehab

Withdrawal Symptoms of Methamphetamine

methamphetamine-withdrawal-symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from stopping methamphetamine use include depression, fatigue, anxiety, and intense cravings for more of the drug.

Points to Remember

  • It's important to understand that methamphetamine is addictive in any form. Here are a few things to remember:
  • Methamphetamine is often a white powder or pill that tastes bitter. Crystal methamphetamine looks similar to glass fragments or bluish-white, shiny rocks.
  • Methamphetamine is a stimulating drug, chemically similar to amphetamine (a particular drug used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD).
  • People may use methamphetamine by swallowing, smoking, injecting, and snorting the drug.
  • Methamphetamine increases how much dopamine is in the person's brain, which is involved with motivation, movement, and reinforcing rewarding behaviors.
  • Short-term health effects of using methamphetamine can include decreased appetite, more wakefulness, more physical activity, and an increase in the body's temperature and pressure.
  • Long-term health effects of using methamphetamine can include addiction, contracting hepatitis or HIV, dental problems, violent behaviors, paranoia, intense skin itching (leading to sores on the skin from scratching).
  • People could get addicted to methamphetamine. Whenever someone stops taking it, they experience withdrawal symptoms, which can include intense cravings, psychosis, severe depression, fatigue, and many more.
  • Researchers aren't yet sure if second hand methamphetamine smoke can cause the nonuser to get high or suffer from other health effects.
  • An overdose of methamphetamine is likely. Since an overdose leads to various health issues, ER doctors and first responders focus on treating heart attacks, strokes, and organ problems when an overdose is present.
  • The best treatments for methamphetamine addiction focus more on behavioral therapies. Right now, there aren't any government-approved medications available to treat the addiction of methamphetamine.

Research is ongoing to find other treatment options to reduce addictions and promote better health for those who may be in geographic locations that are known for methamphetamine distribution. With that, educational tools are essential in schools and workplaces.

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Related Resources

How Does Drug Addiction Impact Your Health?
How Does Drug Addiction Impact Your Health?
Alcohol Rehab Center Florida | What Are The Harmful Effects of Alcohol?
The Impact Drug or Alcohol Overdose Has On The Body
The Different Types of Treatment Programs in Rehab

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