Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal, chalk, speed, crank, or ice is an extremely addictive psychostimulant drug. Meth affects the central nervous system by elevating mood, alertness, and energy levels. Classified as a schedule II drug, methamphetamine is illegal. On rare occasions, meth is prescribed for treating certain conditions such as obesity and ADHD (Attention-deficit hypersensitivity disorder). So, what is Meth, why does it exist, and why is it so addictive?
What Is Meth?
Methamphetamine is an easy-to-make synthetic drug. It exists as two enantiomers, levo-methamphetamine, and dextro-methamphetamine (a more effective stimulant than the former). Methamphetamine is a mixture of both these enantiomers in an equal ratio.
Levomethamphetamine is sold as an over-the-counter medication in the US owing to its nasal decongesting properties. In fact, methamphetamine was first used as a nasal decongestant and a respiratory stimulator when it was discovered in the late 19th century.
How Does Meth Work & Why Is It So Addictive?
Being a very potent stimulant, methamphetamine potentiates the effects of certain neurotransmitters (chemical substances in the brain required for impulse transmission) like dopamine, serotonin (widely known as the happy molecule), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). These neurotransmitters cause increased liveliness, heightened senses, and euphoria. The person also seems to become more confident and thoughtless and appears to make poor choices. All of these can have risky consequences for both the user and others around them.
Therefore, methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug. Dopamine, the hormone associated with pleasure stays in the synapses (space between two neurons where impulses are transferred) for longer periods than normal and provides the person with intense pleasure. When the user does not take the drug, the body is no more capable to produce the hormone naturally and this compels the person to take the drug again and again so that they can feel up to the mark. This makes them addicted eventually.
The Effects of Meth Use
Methamphetamine is a highly euphoric drug. It also has aphrodisiac properties (this means that it increases the user’s sexual desire, sexual behavior, or sexual pleasure). In low to moderate doses, it can make you feel better, it makes you over-talkative, and makes you feel more energetic. However, in high doses, it can cause rhabdomyolysis (the breakdown of skeletal muscle), seizures, bleeding in the brain, and psychosis, particularly paranoid psychosis (this condition is similar to the paranoid form of schizophrenia with the patient experiencing visual or auditory hallucinations, having persecutory delusions and violent behavior). Persistent use of high doses of this illicit drug can cause rapid mood changes, psychosis, and depression.
Finding Treatment for Meth Addiction
Here, the general criteria for treating any substance abuse apply. Education and targeted treatments at high-risk groups should be undertaken. Inpatient rehab programs are frequently preferred and are associated with a good remission rate. Pros of being inpatient include being under the surveillance of the professional health care worker 24/7. Also, withdrawal symptoms can be adequately treated. All of this can be an icing on the cake if the person is actually motivated to change and start a better and new life. To get started today, give us a call.
Below are some quick answers to frequently asked questions about meth.
A methamphetamine overdose is a life-threatening condition.
Factors that increase the likelihood of an overdose include mixing meth with other drugs like alcohol, using larger and larger amounts of drugs, injecting the drug, and if the person has other co-morbidities like high blood pressure or diabetes.
Symptoms range from hyperpyrexia, arrhythmias, painful urination(dysuria), overactive reflexes, muscle aches, rapid breathing for moderate doses to an adrenergic storm, severe psychosis, cardiogenic shock, kidney failure, pulmonary hypertension, serotonin syndrome (syndrome resulting from too much serotonin in your body) for very high doses.
Overdose with meth also results in brain damage due to its toxic effects on the dopaminergic and serotoninergic neurons.
Acute methamphetamine toxicity is managed by giving palliative treatment (treating the symptoms) and administration of activated charcoal.
Methamphetamine is usually:
- Snorted and smoked: these are the most common methods
- And orally ingested: rarely used methods
- Vaginal or rectal insertion
Going to a detox center is not always necessary for meth. Unlike heroin, xanax, or alcohol, meth withdrawals are typically not deadly. However, going to a detox can provide 24/7 structure to make sure you are actually separated from the drug. Also, you will have a chance to check other vital health conditions.