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Methamphetamine Abuse and
Methamphetamine, popularly shortened to meth, is a powerful, highly
addictive stimulant drug that dramatically affects the central nervous system.
Meth has very small-scale medical uses for the treatment of attention deficit
disorders, narcolepsy, and obesity. It is also frequently used illegally
for recreational purposes. Meth comes in a variety of forms, including powder,
rocks, crystal, and pills. In the crystal form, meth as referred to as
Meth is similar to cocaine in that it is a powerful upper, although
it's effects last much longer. Meth has been referenced as the 'poor man's
cocaine,' because it is less expensive in relation to the length of the high
caused. Depending on its form, meth is commonly known on the street as speed,
ice, crystal, chalk, crank, and glass.
When used recreationally, meth can be ingested, injected, snorted,
smoked, or taken anally. The drug has slightly different effects, depending
on how it is administered. When snorted, meth produces euphoria, but not
an intense rush. The effects of snorting generally begin within 3 to 5 minutes,
whereas ingestion will usually take about 15 to 20 minutes.
When meth is smoked, it is normally the fastest method because it
allows the chemical to quickly travel to the brain. Ice is the typical form
of meth that is smoked. It is a fairly pure, clear crystal that is smoked
like crack cocaine. The smoke this produces is odorless, and leaves behind
a residue that can be resmoked. This will produce effects that could last
for 12 hours or longer. When taken this way, it is known as 'chasing the
white dragon,' or 'chuffing.' It is not proven that inhalation of meth is
more toxic then any other method of administration.
Another popular method to use meth is injection, or
'slamming,' but there are very serious risks involved. The hydrochloride
salt of meth is soluble in water, and users may use a large dose that may
be fatal to non-addicts. People who take meth this way will often develop
skin rashes, called speed bumps, and infections at the site of injection.
As with any illicit drug of injection, the needle is shared between users,
which brings a risk of transmitting HIV, hepatitis, and many other communicable
Not much study has been done on the anal insertion method, mostly
because the subject of the anus is considered taboo in many cultures. Meth
used this way is seen most frequently in the communities that use it for
sexual stimulation. It has been discussed that using this way increases sexual
pleasure, and is called a 'booty bump,' 'butt rocket,' 'plugging,' or
Short-term Effects of Meth Abuse
Regardless of the form meth is taken, it will stimulate the individual's
central nervous system and generally last somewhere between a couple hours
to as long as twenty four. Immediately after smoking or injecting the drug,
it will enter the brain and trigger a release of norepinephrine, dopamine
and serotonin. This causes the users to feel a brief yet overwhelming rush
or 'flash,' which has been described as very pleasurable. It will also affect
the users neurochemical mechanisms that regulate heart rate, blood pressure,
body temperature, appetite, attention, mood and automated responses such
as alarm and alertness. Although many people think these to be positive side
effects, they are usually followed with an alteration in irritability, paranoia,
incessant conversation, insomnia, aggression, jerky movements, convulsions
After the effects of meth begin, users may become obsessive or begin
to perform repetitive tasks such as hand washing, cleaning, or assembling
and disassembling objects. Meth has also been known to boost the user's
self-confidence, causing many users to be overcome by what is called 'superman
syndrome.' This causes the individual to ignore their physical limitations
and do things that are usually incapable of performing. A hallucination that
is commonly experienced by meth users is the so called crank bug. The user
is overcome with the sensation that insects are creeping all over their skin.
They will pick and scratch their skin, trying to get rid of the illusionary
insects. This can cause them to create open sores on their skin that could
Health Risks of Chronic Meth
The effects of chronic methamphetamine abuse are very severe and can
often be fatal. Meth abuse has adverse effects on the user that are both
physically and mentally. A person who uses meth can suffer from liver damage,
brain damage, malnutrition, kidney disorders, impaired immune system, blood
clots, and many other negative health conditions. Chronic meth use can also
cause anxiety, insomnia, confusion, irritability, fatigue, depression, headaches,
mood disturbances, violent behavior, grinding of teeth(bruxism), slurred
speech, dilated pupils, dizziness, numbness, sweats, and even
Meth abusers frequently become psychotic and suffer paranoia,
hallucinations, and delusions. When an individual experiences this type of
psychological state, they may begin to have homicidal or suicidal thoughts.
These psychotic symptoms can last for months or years after use has ceased.
Meth is also know to cause a plethora of cardiovascular problems including:
irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, inflammation of the heart
lining, rapid heart rate, and irreversible damage to blood vessels in the
brain. When a person overdoses on meth, they could suffer from hypothermia,
convulsions, and stroke. If this is not treated early enough, it will most
likely result in death.
Pregnant mothers abusing methamphetamine also is a significant problem.
Meth abuse during pregnancy can lead to prenatal complications, risk of premature
delivery, and altered neonatal behavioral patterns. The drug has also been
linked also to congenital deformities.
Another risk from meth abuse is lead poisoning. One of the more frequent
methods of producing meth uses lead acetate as an ingredient. Slight errors
in meth production could cause it to become contaminated with lead. Lead
poisoning has been documented in many users.
Another one of the many negative side effects of meth abuse is what
is called 'meth mouth.' Meth mouth is a condition, which is common among
meth abusers, where the addicts lose their teeth at an accelerated rate.
Unlike the common myth, this is not caused by any corrosive effects of meth
itself. Meth mouth is actually caused by various factors such as: dry mouth,
long periods of neglected hygiene, excess consumption of sugared beverages,
and tooth grinding. This will leave the abusers teeth in a stubby, blackened
state where they can fall out of the user's mouth.
Amphetamines are extremely addictive. Tolerance for methamphetamine
as almost instantaneous, the pleasurable effects disappear even before the
drug concentration in the blood falls significantly. This will cause people
to continue to use the drug to avoid the crash that comes when the meth's
positive effects begin to wear off. The user must take increasingly larger
doses of meth to catch the high that they first experienced. This process
takes place because when the person uses meth it suppresses the normal production
of dopamine, which creates a chemical imbalance. The person will need more
and more meth just to feel normal again.
Meth Withdrawal and
The symptoms of meth withdrawal are characterized by excessive sleeping,
depression, anxiety, and severe craving for another dose. Withdrawal is almost
always intense, although it is seldom fatal.
Addiction to methamphetamine can be a difficult disorder to treat,
and the success rate for traditional meth treatment is rather low. Statistics
show that 93% those in traditional rehabilitation return to using meth. Meth
addicts do not necessarily require specialized treatment, but they do need
more time in intensive drug rehab programs than they normally receive under
It has been show that daily administration of specific amino acids
can assist in the recovery procedure by making it easier for addicts body
to reverse the reduction of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. This
has shown some success, but it is not been proven to be consistently effective.
Although there are many differences in effects caused by meth and cocaine,
these two drugs have many similar characteristics and effects. It has recently
been discover that the treatment responses of meth and cocaine users have
very similar outcomes when exposed to the same treatments.