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Article Summary


Meth is short for the illicit street drug methamphetamine, a highly addictive and powerful stimulant drug. It has other names as well, and is commonly called crank when found in its powder, pill, or liquid version, but can also be found as little rocks known as Crystal or Ice. Crystal meth is a concentrated version of the drug. Because meth is a stimulant drug similar to cocaine, individuals abuse the drug to experience the intense rush and almost instant surge of energy and alertness. Even though the effects of meth are similar to cocaine, meth is a longer acting drug and so is sometimes preferred over cocaine. For example, a cocaine high may only last 15 minutes in some cases whereas a meth high can last several hours. The high experienced while on meth is so profound and intense, that individuals often become addicted to the drug after just one use. Meth addiction has become an epidemic with approximately 13 million people over the age of 12 having used the drug in the U.S. alone.

Like any other drug of abuse, individuals don't only experience the positive feelings they wish to experience from meth use. Meth users are putting themselves at risk of serious health and social consequences each time they use, and some of these consequences can be life threatening. Meth overdose occurs all the time, and there is no telling which dose of meth will cause such an overdose from person to person. It all depends on the purity of the drug and the individual's tolerance to it, which all depends on how long the individual has been taking it and at what dose. So a certain dose of meth for a long-term user can be a fatal dose of meth for a new user. And because meth is made from so many caustic and impure substances, one never knows what is actually in a batch of meth. So users are also putting themselves at risk of putting toxic and deadly substances into their bodies which may cause a heart attack, stroke, coma or worse. Heart attack and stroke are the most common causes of meth overdose, primarily due to the drug's effects on the cardiovascular system because it is a stimulant drug.

Meth Effects

To intensify such risks, chronic meth users are obsessed with use of the drug and their lives are often completely consumed by it. Meth users will often go on a binge known as "tweaking", which is continuous use of the drug for days on end, often without rest or food. With the already present dangers of continuous meth use and the body having to sustain such a barrage of toxic substances, individuals who tweak often become paranoid and violent. A common result of this paranoia is the users being under the impression that there are bugs or insects on them, so they will pick until they have open sores. This is why a common sign of meth use is red, open sores on the user's body that they continually pick and scratch at, particularly on their face and arms. This paranoia can get so intense however that violent behavior can result which puts themselves and other in harm's way. This is a dangerous circumstance, especially when the individual runs out of meth and doesn't want their binge to end. Individuals addicted to meth in this way will do pretty much anything to get more of the drug including engaging in criminal activity etc.

The fastest way to achieve a meth high is by intravenous injection. Even though new users may start out snorting and smoking meth, most chronic meth users will wind up as IV users at some point because it produces a much more intense high, quicker. Unfortunately like any other drug which is administered in this way, intravenously injecting meth into one's body presents a myriad of problems and consequences for users. Intravenous drug users often share dirty needles, so injection of meth puts users at risk of acquiring a number of blood borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis which will leave them stricken with other ailments and life-long medical problems, not to mention risk of death. Intravenous drug use also puts users at risk of infections of the circulatory system and collapsed veins, all of which can cause serious health consequences and even death.

Unfortunately, neither short nor long term health is of any concern for the chronic meth user. Some will even develop what is known as meth mouth; another common sign of chronic meth use. Meth mouth is severe tooth decay to the point that some meth users have little black stubs where teeth used to be or will lose mouthfuls of teeth as a result of the severity of this deterioration. Meth mouth causes are 1) lack of hygiene, dental care and poor diet which is common among meth users, and 2) the toxic and caustic agents found in meth which contribute to this decay. Because meth is made from chemicals such battery acid, phosphorous etc. which can all eat away at tooth enamel, users who smoke and snort the drug are literally bathing their teeth in these corrosive substances which ultimately cause meth mouth.

Meth Addiction Treatment

Ultimately, meth users are headed straight down a path of physical and moral decay when cannot often be stopped without help. Individuals who are dependent and addicted to meth will just continue deteriorating and their condition will only worsen, some losing their lives. The come down from meth is difficult however, and no matter how bad they want to quit most meth users will not be able to do so on their own. Willpower is no longer in play, and it will take intensive therapy and treatment over a matter of months in most cases to help someone overcome this type of addiction and dependence. Because many withdrawal symptoms associated with meth are psychological, it can be a particularly difficult addiction to overcome. Treatment professional understand this however, and meth users who want to quit are far better offer leaving this in their experienced hands. Long-term inpatient and residential drug rehab facilities are a meth users best bet for rehabilitation.

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