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Addiction Facts – Meth

What is meth?

Addiction Facts – Meth

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug chemically related to amphetamine but with stronger effects on the central nervous system. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Meth is made of highly volatile, toxic substances (based on such chemical “precursors” as methylamine and amyl amine) that are melded in differing combinations, forming what some have described as a “mix of laundry detergent and lighter fluid.”

Street names for the drug include “speed,” “meth,” “crystal,” and “crank.” Crystallized methamphetamine known as “ice,” “crystal,” or “glass,” is a smokable and more powerful form of the drug.

How is meth used?

Meth can either be snorted or injected, or in its crystal form ‘ice’ smoked in a pipe, and brings on a feeling of exhilaration and a sharpening of focus. Smoking meth results in an instantaneous dose of almost pure drug to the brain, giving a huge rush followed by a feeling of euphoria for anything from two to 16 hours.

The effects of meth can last six to eight hours. After the initial “rush,” there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior.

Meth’s effects increases arousal in the central nervous system by pumping up levels of two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine. At low doses, meth boosts alertness and blocks hunger and fatigue. At higher doses, meth causes exhilaration and euphoria. At very high doses, the effects of meth can cause agitation, paranoia, and bizarre behavior.

What are the side effects of meth?

Anxiety, emotional swings, and paranoia are the most common psychological effects due to chronic use of meth. Symptoms increase with long-term use, and can involve paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Violence and self-destructive behavior are common.

Meth side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Auditory hallucinations (hearing “voices”)
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Suspiciousness, severe paranoia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Stroke
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Long periods of sleep (“crashing” for 24-48 hours or more)
  • Prolonged sluggishness, severe depression
  • Weight loss, malnutrition, anorexia
  • Itching (illusion that bugs are crawling on the skin)
  • Welts on the skin
  • Involuntary body movements

What is meth addiction?

Meth addiction has three patterns: low intensity, binge, and high intensity. Low-intensity abuse describes a user who is not psychologically addicted to the drug but uses meth on a casual basis by swallowing or snorting it.

Binge and high-intensity abusers are psychologically addicted to meth and prefer to smoke or inject the drug to achieve a faster and stronger high. Binge abusers use meth more than low-intensity abusers but less than high-intensity abusers. Researchers believe meth does not create a physical addiction in the user, but it is known to be extremely addictive psychologically.

What are the symptoms of meth withdrawal?

Meth withdrawal, length and severity of depression is related to how much and how often Meth was used. Withdrawal symptoms including, cravings, exhaustion, depression, mental confusion, restlessness, insomnia, deep or disturbed sleep, may last up to 48 hours.
Meth Withdrawal symptoms included but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Long, disturbed periods of sleep
  • Irritability
  • Intense hunger
  • Moderate to severe depression
  • Psychotic reactions
  • Anxiety

What are the symptoms of a overdose of meth?

An overdose can occur at relatively low levels (50 milligrams of pure meth for a non-tolerant user). Metabolic rates vary from person to person, and the strength of the Meth varies from batch to batch, so there is no way of stating a “safe” level of use. Because stimulants such as meth effect the body’s cardiovascular and temperature-regulating systems, physical exertion increases the hazards of Meth use. Methamphetamine kills by causing heart failure, brain damage and stroke.

Symptoms of a Meth overdose include:

  • Sudden and dangerous increase in blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • User could see spots (due to pressure on the nerves of eye)
  • High fever
  • Convulsions

How is meth produced?

Methamphetamines can be produced virtually anywhere. Motel rooms, trailer parks, and suburban homes can all be turned into clandestine “meth” labs capable of producing substantial quantities of the drug. The technical know-how needed to produce methamphetamines can easily be found on the Internet.  About the only thing that stands in the way of widespread production and distribution of methamphetamine is the limited availability of the chemicals required to make it.

What are signs of Meth addiction?

Meth works directly on the brain and spinal cord by interfering with normal neurotransmission. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances naturally produced within nerve cells used to communicate with each other and send messages to influence and regulate our thinking and all other systems throughout the body.

The main neurotransmitter affected by methamphetamine is dopamine. Dopamine is involved with our natural reward system. For example, feeling good about a job well done, getting pleasure from our family or social interactions, feeling content and that our lives are meaningful and count for something, all rely on dopamine transmission.

The signs of meth addiction include more than the destruction of a person’s ability to experience pleasure naturally. Chronic use can create a tolerance for the drug, leading a person to try to intensify the desired effects by taking increasingly higher doses, taking it more frequently or changing their method of getting high.

To support their habit, Meth users often participate in spur-of-the-moment crimes such as burglaries. Several signs of meth addiction include feelings of agitation and feeling wired. Addict’s behavior becomes unpredictable from moment to moment. They may start doing the same thing over and over, like taking apart and reassembling bits of machinery, or continuously picking at imaginary bugs under their skin.

Pure methamphetamine hydrochloride, the smokeable form of the drug (Crystal Meth,  “L.A.” , “ice”, produces pronounced signs of abuse including:

Signs of Abuse Include

  • Decreased appetite and possible weight loss
  • Rotting teeth
  • Picking at skin “Meth Bugs”
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Paranoia
  • Decreased interest in appearance

The signs of meth addiction include but are not limited to:

  • increased alertness
  • sense of well-being
  • paranoia
  • intense high
  • hallucinations
  • aggressive behavior
  • increased heart rate
  • convulsions
  • extreme rise in body temperature (as high as 108 degrees which can cause brain damage and death)
  • increased sweating/body odor
  • uncontrollable movements (twitching, jerking, etc…)
  • violent behavior
  • insomnia
  • impaired speech
  • dry, itchy skin
  • premature aging
  • rotting teeth
  • loss of appetite
  • acne, sores
  • numbness
  • disturbed sleep
  • excessive excitation
  • excessive talking
  • panic
  • anxiousness
  • nervousness
  • moodiness and irritability
  • false sense of confidence and power
  • delusions of grandeur leading to aggressive behavior
  • uninterested in friends, sex, or food
  • aggressive and violent behavior
  • severe depression
  • dilated pupils