Methamphetamine (meth) is one of the most addictive drugs available today. It often comes in a crystallized form with a bluish tint, and is similar in appearance to glass. Meth is also available as tiny white rocks and colorless crystals. On the street, meth goes by many different names including speed, crank, ice, tic-tac, chalk, and crypto. Whatever the name, meth remains one of the most dangerous drugs to abuse.
What Is Methamphetamine?
A combination of very lethal drugs are used when producing meth. All of the nicknames given to meth are nothing more than a marketing strategy: if the real ingredients were listed as they are on legal products, people would be absolutely astonished. These are just a few of the ingredients found in methamphetamine:
- Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine
This is an ingredient used in cold medication. If abused in large quantities, it can affect the respiratory system, brain, and heart.
You’ve probably heard of acetone, as it’s the main ingredient found in nail polish removers and paint thinners.
- Hydrochloric Acid
This is an extremely corrosive acid, capable of removing rust from steel and burning human flesh.
- Anhydrous Ammonia
This colorless gas is used in industrial cleaners and fertilizers. When mixed with other chemicals (such as hydrochloric acid listed above), toxic fumes are produced.
This is a highly explosive chemical found in batteries. If it can power a car, think of what it does to your body.
How Meth Works
The dangers of meth, in part, depend on how much is consumed. Meth users inject the substance into their veins, snort it, smoke it, or swallow the drug. For hardcore users, the urge to feel the effects as quickly as possible pushes them to use more than one method at the same time, resulting in an instant high.
Meth affects the brain, spinal cord, and overall nervous system by changing how the body’s neurotransmitters react to certain chemicals. Dopamine is released in large quantities, and when the drug reaches the brain, the user begins to feel the high within a few minutes or less. This high can last for four to eight hours, depending on how much is consumed and your body’s ability to process the drug.
Meth’s Impact on the Brain
If you or someone you know is experimenting with or is addicted to meth, you need to educate yourself on its severe side effects. Meth is highly addictive, and the she sooner treatment is sought out, the sooner the following consequences can be avoided:
- Meth Destroys Dopamine
One of the dangers of meth is that it can completely reprogram your brain. The drug causes a high by triggering the brain to release dopamine and serotonin. These are the chemicals that control your emotions, moods, body weight, focus, and sleep. The more you use meth, the more your neurotransmitters forget how to function normally. Meth and dopamine have the same chemical formula, and when the brain encounters meth, it overproduces dopamine. The dopamine that is released is not recycled, so the brain is overstimulated and this results in the high felt from meth use. As it wears off, this high is replaced by a come-down, characterized by low moods and depressive thoughts. This intense low creates a cycle of dependency.
- Meth Affects Your Memory
Imagine trying to think about the most important day of your life, and nothing comes to mind. It could be your graduation, a promotion at work, or even the birth of your child. You try to think of the emotions that defined those moments and the people involved, but you recall absolutely nothing. Meth abuse can lead to corrosion of the lining of the brain. This severs the hippocampus (the part of the brain that controls memory) making it difficult to remember even the most basic things.
- Meth Causes Depression
Depression has been listed as a serious danger of meth. Using meth creates a feeling of euphoria that lasts a few hours. Once withdrawal sets in, users find themselves in a very depressive state. Another fix is needed to bring them back to that euphoric feeling, and this is how the emotional addiction begins. Before they know it, users become depressed, because the body no longer knows how to create its own “feel good” hormones. Moreover, the destruction of serotonin and dopamine that controls mood can lead to permanent depression.
- Meth Causes Sleep Disorders
Never underestimate the power of good sleep. It determines your mood, your energy levels, and general health. For meth users, the toxicity of the drug ruins the receptors of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls wakefulness and sleep. Think of it as a mental prison: you’re exhausted and all you want to do is sleep, but your body refuses to shut down. You remain in a perpetually dazed, yet awake state. For some, the brain completely switches off and they cannot get out of bed at all. In this case, you wish you would wake up and interact with people around you, but you’re perpetually sleepy. It comes to a point where you physically cannot move.
Meth’s Impact on the Body
Some mental symptoms of meth use can be disguised by a user. But eventually, meth will start to show physical signs that cannot be concealed. Meth addiction treatment can help prevent bodily damage, but most effects cannot be reversed.
- Meth Changes Skin Color and Elasticity
When you become addicted to meth, you’re saying goodbye to youthful skin. The fumes, toxins, and the way it binds itself in your bloodstream affects your blood vessels. When blood flow is interrupted, your skin becomes saggy and flakey. It is easy to recognize long-time users because of their paleness and their skin’s saggy appearance.
- Meth Causes Sores and Wounds
Scars from injections and burns from smoking meth can cause wounds on the body. Formication, which is a tingling sensation inside the skin, is also common among people who use meth. It feels as though you have been attacked by many insects and they are running around all over your skin. You scratch and scratch, but get no relief. Before you know it, your body is covered in sores and wounds. Since your skin does not have the elasticity to heal itself quickly, users spend a lot of time covered in wounds.
- Meth Destroys Mouth and Teeth Issues
Meth dries up the salivary glands, making your mouth extremely dry. The harsh ingredients also corrode the gums, tongue lining, and the enamel on teeth. This creates a series of dental problems that can be very expensive to treat, but sometimes this damage is permanent.
- Meth Causes Seizures
Meth’s severity can be summed up in a single word: death. As scary as it may be to hear, seizures are one of the common side effects of using meth. Sadly, some of them are so intense they can lead to permanent brain damage and death. Some people have also been known to develop strokes, heart complications, and respiratory issues.
- Meth Causes Severe Weight Loss
Some of the ingredients used to cook meth are found in diet pills. This is because of their ability to suppress appetite. However, prolonged use results in severe malnourishment which is why most users are extremely thin and frail.
Seeking Help for Meth Addiction
The effects of meth abuse go far beyond mental and physical deterioration. Use impacts the user, their family, and their friends. If you or someone you know is experimenting with meth, seek help immediately. This addiction is too severe to be left unnoticed. For more information about meth addiction treatment, or to learn more about how you can get help for yourself or a loved one, contact Arizona Addiction Recovery Center today.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888-512-1705.
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