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The Dangers of Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, crystal meth, crystal, glass, Tina, speed, chalk, crank, ice, is rapidly becoming a highly abused drug. Meth, in its simplest form, is a combination of amphetamine-based products and over-the-counter drugs. One major concern is that the base chemicals used to make meth include over-the-counter drugs like Sudafed which increases the ease of access to the drug. Users of meth like the drug for its ability to help in weight loss and in maintaining wakefulness. After taking meth, a person feels a sudden "rush" of pleasure or a lingering sense of euphoria. They have increased focus, energy, confidence, feelings of desirability, and sexual prowess. After trying meth for the first time, an individual will want more of the drug so as to experience those feelings again. After continuous use, the drug takes a toll on the person's mind and body, and robs him of his good looks, cognitive abilities, physical health, libido, and his ability to feel pleasure.

Meth is highly addictive and quite easy to obtain. It is commonly sold in form of crystals or a white powder but is sometimes sold as a pill. The drug can be injected, snorted, swallowed, or smoked. When crystal meth is injected, it instantly gives a person an intense euphoric rush that goes on for several minutes. When taken in other ways, meth gives the person a gradual high that produces a heightened sense of alertness, activity, well-being and a lack of appetite. This feeling lasts for twelve hours. Often, the effects of crystal meth are compared to those of cocaine. Addiction to meth takes a terrible toll on the user, his family, friends, community, health care and law enforcement.

Meth works by filling a person's brain with large amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is an organic chemical usually released by the body in small amounts as a response to something pleasurable. Meth also raises a person's heart rate, respiration, body temperature and blood pressure. The high meth gives a person comes at a cost. After the drug wears off, the amounts of dopamine in the brain get depleted and the meth user is left feeling fatigued, irritable, and depressed. When heavily used, meth causes an individual to become paranoid, psychotic, and unable to feel any pleasure (a condition known as anhedonia). This makes the person crave for the drug. The dangers of meth addiction far outweigh the "benefits" that are felt by meth addicts. Some dangers of meth addiction include:

Psychosis

A meth addict can experience psychosis that causes feelings of hallucinations and paranoia. This may make the addict to become overly suspicious of others, see or hear things that aren't there, and have implausible beliefs. The symptoms of psychosis usually last for more than three hours. According to the University of South Wales, almost one-quarter of all meth addicts suffer from psychosis symptoms in a given year.

Increased Risk for Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS

Meth addicts who administer the drug intravenously have an enhanced risk of contracting hepatitis B and C, and HIV/AIDS. This is because the addicts often use syringes and needles that are unsterilized, or share syringes and needles with other addicts. In addition, users under the drug's influence have a high chance of engaging in unsafe sexual behavior and other risky behavior. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that using meth aggravates the progression of HIV/AIDS.

Dental Problems

Most meth addicts experience extreme tooth decay (commonly referred to as meth mouth). This condition is identified by rotting or stained teeth. When a meth addict is under the drug's influence, he gets an enhanced craving for sugary substances. The user also suffers from teeth grinding, poor dental hygiene, and a dry mouth. When meth is administered orally, it can harm the teeth because it is an acidic drug. Meth mouth can also cause additional problems such as stroke due to the damage done to the blood vessels.

Damage to the Brain

Meth destroys dopamine receptors over time and makes it impossible for the addict to feel pleasure. While the pleasure centers may heal with time, the effects of meth on the addict's cognitive abilities can be permanent. Chronic abuse of meth can cause psychotic behavior that may result in death.

If you or a person you know is addicted to meth, seek medical help at once. Withdrawal can be tough but with support from your family and friends, you can become free from addiction. To avoid relapsing, join a support group with people who share the same goal as you.

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