What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects CNS (central nervous system) and is very addictive and potent.  Crystal methamphetamine is a type of drug that comes in the crystal-like form, and looks like broken glass, and has a distinct white and blue color. Crystal meth has a similar chemical structure as amphetamine, a special drug prescribed for ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder, narcolepsy, and sleep disorders.

Methamphetamine has various names used on the streets: meth, speed, crystal, ice and blue.

How is methamphetamine used?

There are several ways can be delivered into the system:

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  • smoke
  • swallow in pill form
  • snort
  • administered intravenously via dissolved powder with water or alcohol

Due to short durations of high received from using methamphetamine, people often engage in binge and crash doses method. In more severe cases, individuals abuse meth by forgoing food, drink, and sleep.  This process can take up to several days.

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How does methamphetamine affect the brain?

Methamphetamine causes dopamine chemical to flood part of the brain that called the reward system, that controls pleasure. The powerful euphoria produced by the drug makes it extremely powerful and addictive. An addiction may force a person to seek more drugs to experience the rush of pleasure, and lead to building a tolerance to it. Tolerance will require a person to use a higher dosage to achieve the same effect. Using higher dosages more often, may lead to health risks and even death.

Short-term effects of methamphetamine use:

Methamphetamine can mimic the health effects of other stimulants, like cocaine and amphetamine.

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  • insomnia
  • hyperactive behavior
  • rapid breathing
  • irregular heartbeat
  • elevated blood pressure
  • high temperature
  • loss of appetite

What are the health effects of methamphetamine?

Since most users deliver methamphetamine intravenously, there is a potential risk for contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C.  These types of infections passed via used needles. Another side effect of meth use is impaired judgment and decision making, that can result in unsafe and promiscuous behavior, which leads to STDs and other infections.

Long-term effects of methamphetamine use includes:

  • addiction
  • excessive weight loss
  • serious dental problems
  • severe skin irritations, sores
  • confusion
  • detrimental changes in brain function
  • sleep disorders
  • anxiety
  • memory loss
  • uncontrollable behaviors (often violent)
  • paranoia and hallucinations

Can someone overdose from methamphetamine use?

A person can overdose on methamphetamine. An overdose takes place when an individual abuses the drug by injecting the highest dosage within a short period and continues the cycle that leads to a toxic reaction, that results in dangerous health consequences or death.

A National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates how the methamphetamine overdoes are treated. Since the overdose often associates with stroke, heart attack, and other organ failures, the emergency doctors attempt to revive a person by tackling the following conditions:

  • Stroke-restore blood flow to the brain
  • Heart attack-restoring a blood flow to the heart
  • Treating other affected organs

What are the withdrawal symptoms of methamphetamine?

If a person stops using the drug abruptly the following withdrawal symptoms may occur:

  • severe drug cravings
  • psychosis
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • physical exhaustion

Is there a treatment for methamphetamine addiction?

Treatment for meth addiction can only be treated with behavioral therapy. There are no approved medications that can be used for meth addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, however, had been proven to be very effective and have long-term results.  Progress gained from behavioral therapy can curb addiction manifestation, and used as a preventative measure for triggers and relapse.

There are two types of behavioral therapy applied:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, helps patients identify the cause of drug use, teaches skills to cope with life’s stress without using drugs, and learn how to avoid and deal with triggers of drug use.
  • motivational therapy, based on incentives, helps patients using rewards for positive behavior of drug-free life.

If addiction is identified and recognized, the patient has a chance to recover and lead a productive life. The most important step is to seek appropriate and individualized treatment at a drug rehab center.