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Article Summary

How Addictive is Meth?

Meth, also known as methamphetamine, is one of the most addictive of all intoxicating substances. This is because of its action in the brain, where it leads to the production of dopamine and serotonin in excess.

To this end, it is not exactly surprising that close to 5 percent of Americans above the age of 12 have reported abusing this drug at least once in their lifetimes. After all, meth is a highly addictive drug that has very limited medical uses.

When you take it, the drug will cause you to experience an intense and pleasurable effect that will come on quickly. However, this effect will also pass just about as quickly as it came. Due to this mode of action, you may find yourself taking meth in repeated doses to be able to maintain your high as well as to avoid the comedown that is associated with the drug.

Understanding Meth Addiction

The addictive potential of meth is so high that there is always a risk that you could develop a substance use disorder from the first time you try this substance. This is due to the excessive dopamine that it causes the brain to produce.

Dopamine, on the other hand, is a natural chemical that the brain produces for inducing pleasure. This chemical is also essential for reward processing, learning, memory retention, and motivation.

The experience of a rush of dopamine that occurs in the brain when you take meth is responsible for its addictive potential. This is because the drug will cause a rush that is higher than normal. As a result, you will find yourself wanting to take meth in higher doses and on a more regular basis so that you can sustain and heighten the pleasurable feelings that it causes.

For this reason, you might end up being like any other meth addict. This effectively means that you will continue taking the drug on a regular basis for several days at a time - to ensure that you are perpetually high during this period.

Over time, however, this will quickly lead to the development of tolerance. As a direct result, you will find yourself taking methamphetamine in higher doses or more frequently than you used to. Only by so doing will you be able to experience its pleasurable effects.

These stimulant effects, coupled with the fact that the drug is relatively affordable, means that you may quickly find yourself struggling with a substance use disorder or an addiction linked to meth.

Once this has happened, you will no longer be able to feel content or pleasurable unless you abuse meth. If you try stopping your drug use, on the other hand, there is a high risk that you could suffer some withdrawal symptoms - some of which might turn out to be fatal.

The painful withdrawal symptoms - including depression, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia - might cause you to continue abusing meth. It is also due to these symptoms that you will continue abusing this drug in a binge pattern.

Understanding Meth

Meth, also known by its full name of methamphetamine, is a drug that works to stimulate the central nervous system. This substance is produced using amphetamine and many other derivative chemicals.

The drug comes in the form of a crystalline powder that is quite white in color. However, there are other versions of it that are brown, pink, or yellow in color. Meth is also bitter and odorless as well as soluble.

If you are addicted to it, you may start abusing this drug through injection, snorting, or smoking. Alternatively, you may compress it into pill form for oral consumption - depending on your preferences. Crystal meth, on the other hand, is sold in a clear or blue color. It is available in the form of coarse crystals that you would typically smoke if you were addicted to it.

However, drug dealers sometimes cut meth using other substances to increase their profit margins using the same batch of the drug. In most cases, they use prescription medications including opioids and antidepressants to cut the drug.

It is important to keep in mind that cutting this substance is extremely dangerous. This is because it could increase your risk of suffering an overdose on all the substances that were used. The danger will also arise from the interactions between meth and any other drug that was used to cut it. Although these two variations of methamphetamine differ in structural makeup, both crystal meth and regular meth will have the same chemical structure.

People refer to meth through a wide variety of street names - mostly to avoid detection by law enforcement officials and other authorities. Examples of these street names include but are not limited to:

  • Chalk
  • Crank
  • Crystal
  • Glass
  • Ice
  • Redneck cocaine
  • Tweak

It was first prescribed as a weight loss aid and decongestant. During its early days on the American medical space, it was prescribed on a regular basis and was largely available in legal injectable and tablet forms of the substance all across the United States.

However, research studies eventually showed that meth was leading to substance abuse and addiction among patients who had received a prescription for it. As a direct result, the FDA - the Food and Drug Administration - started restricting and regulating the substance.

Today, the DEA - the Drug Enforcement Administration - classifies methamphetamine as a schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act that was passed by the federal government in 1970. This means that it comes with a high risk of substance abuse and addiction with very limited medical uses.

Currently, there is only 1 prescription meth-based medication that is still being sold on the American market. Known as Desoxyn, this drug is typically prescribed for the treatment of severe ADHH - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - and obesity. As a result, it is not exactly surprising that most of the people who have developed a meth use disorder take the illicit forms of the substance - crystal meth and regular meth.

Meth Effects

If you have been using meth illicitly, you could be said to be abusing it. The drug is the same as crack cocaine in the sense that it will produce a rush - especially when you inject or smoke it. This rush will be due to the increase in your blood pressure and heart rate. It will also be as a result of the rising volume of pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters that will move into your brain.

On the other hand, if you snort the drug it will cause you to experience an euphoric sensation - and not the rush that comes from smoking and injecting meth. However, you will soon find yourself increasingly taking the substance intravenously. This is because injections produce the strongest meth effects - and these effects can last as long as 30 minutes or even more.

Once you have had the initial rush, you will typically experience a steady high - which might last anywhere between 8 and 24 hours. This high will largely depend on the route of admiration.

For instance, injecting meth will lead to a stronger and longer lasting high than snorting or smoking it. However, the effects that you derive in this way will most likely also end up wearing off rather quickly.

That said, the following are some of the effects of meth abuse and addiction:

  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Alertness
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic nosebleeds
  • Confusion
  • Damaged sinus cavities
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Edginess
  • Elation
  • Elevated body temperature (or overheating)
  • Euphoria (or extreme happiness)
  • Excitement
  • Headache
  • Heart attack
  • Heightened sense of happiness and well-being
  • High blood pressure
  • High risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis and HIV
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased physical activity
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Infections from picking your skin
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Meth mouth
  • Nausea
  • Overdose, that could turn out to be fatal
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid breathing rate
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Damaged nerve terminals inside the brain
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Homicidal thoughts
  • Increased risk of contracting such blood borne infections as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Lung disease
  • Memory loss
  • Meth mouth, characterized by severe dental problems
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Sensation of insects that are crawling on or under your skin
  • Significant weight loss
  • Skin sores due to scratching
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Symptoms that are similar to Parkinson's or Alzheimer's due to the amount of brain damage caused by the drug
  • Violence
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Ruined nasal passages
  • Seizures
  • Skin sores
  • Stroke
  • Sweating
  • Talkativeness
  • Tooth decay
  • Tremors
  • Twitching
  • Uncontrollable jaw clenching
  • Unpredictable behavior
  • Urges to engage in repetitive tasks, some of which might even be meaningless
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

On the other hand, if you mix meth with other substances - including alcohol and cocaine - you will undoubtedly increase your risk of suffering adverse reactions like drug overdoses. Similarly, taking this drug in the long term could significantly damage your brain, as well as the cells that it uses to produce dopamine and those that contain serotonin.

Methamphetamine Overdose

Although there are so many effects of meth abuse - and most of them are negative - you still need to understand that one of the most significant risks that you run when you continue taking this drug is related to an overdose.

If you overdose on meth, you might display some of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Convulsions
  • Dangerously elevated body temperatures
  • Death
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Since a meth overdose could lead to death - and most of the other adverse symptoms of overdose are not pleasant either - it is recommended that you call 911 or your local poisons control center as soon as you realize that you might be overdosing.

Meth Addiction Risk

Although meth addiction tends to set in rather fast, it is a bit different from simply abusing the drug. When you have been abusing meth, it means that you have been doing so due to the pleasurable effects that it causes.

Addiction, on the other hand, is a serious medical condition that can only be treated in a controlled environment. This condition is characterized by compulsive and continuous use of the drug in spite of the fact that you have realized that it has been causing negative effects in your life.

The speed at which you will get addicted to meth will depend on a wide variety of factors. These factors include:

  • Environmental influences
  • Genetic influences
  • Other social, interpersonal, and psychological factors
  • The existence (if any) of other co-occurring medical and mental health disorders
  • The route of administration or mode of ingestion

Getting Help

Although it is normally quite difficult to overcome a meth use disorder, it is possible to deal with this condition. What might have started as a pleasurable experience for you could soon turn out to be the worst nightmare of your life.

This is because addiction of any kind - especially that involving hard drugs like meth - often leads to a lifestyle filled with anxiety, despair, depression, illness, and loss: and in various aspects of our life.

To be able to overcome your growing addiction, you would have to check into an inpatient or an outpatient drug rehab program. In many cases involving meth addiction, inpatient treatment is recommended.

This is because you would have to go through a medically managed detox program - to help you overcome your physical dependence on meth as well as manage any symptoms of withdrawal and drug cravings that arise during the early stages of your recovery.

After that, the drug rehab program will provide you with a wide variety of other recovery services, including aftercare programming and planning, individual and group therapy, and even dual diagnosis treatment if you have a co-occurring disorder over and above your addiction.

The important thing is to ensure that you check into an addiction treatment and rehabilitation program as soon as you realize that you have been taking meth more often or in higher doses than you used to.

CITATIONS

http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/meth.asp

https://medlineplus.gov/methamphetamine.html

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/methamphetamine/how-methamphetamine-misused

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/methamphetamine/overview

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/methamphetamine/what-are-immediate-short-term-effects-methamphetamine-misuse

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/how-methamphetamine-different-other-stimulants-such-cocaine

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