Addiction has come out as a global issue that is quickly consuming many healthy individuals across the globe. Many substances are constantly abused by young adults and even teenagers these days, where the substances used are either prescription medicines such as opiates, painkillers, etc., or illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, and marijuana. Although both prescription drugs and illegal substances are equally dangerous to health, the latter has much more negative effects on a healthy body. Since illegal drugs are produced using harmful chemicals, they have a more severe risk of addiction and health issues that come with them.
Meth, or methamphetamine, is an illegal drug that is highly addictive and can pose many problems to a healthy individual. Not only physical, but the psychological effects of meth are what makes it a very dangerous drug in the market. The drug can alter a healthy brain’s chemistry which also affects the way a normal brain functions. This hampers decision-making, mind-body coordination, and other mental health issues.
What is Meth?
Commonly known as crystal, ice, blue, speed, and popularly meth, this stimulant has highly addictive properties that target the central nervous system. The drug has a blueish-white rock structure, with fragments shining like glasses. The chemical composition of methamphetamine is similar to amphetamine, which is a medical drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and sleep disorder.
Meth has no medical use and is banned across the globe. The drug is pretty popular at parties, and users usually smoke crystal meth with a glass pipe. However, addicts can even snort, swallow, or even directly inject into their veins. Users admit that meth produces a euphoric experience quickly after consuming it. The high, although, as users admit is pretty good and provides a calming effect, the aftereffects of consuming this drug can be dangerous to one’s health.
How is Meth Consumed?
Meth comes in two forms – blueish-white crystal and white powder. Drug users can intake meth by:
- Swallowing the pill
- Snorting the white powder or breaking blueish-white fragments to snort the rest.
- Injecting powder dissolved in water or alcohol.
Since the high from meth elevates and settles down quickly, this encourages users to use more doses and result in the frequency of binge and crash patterns. Constant drug abusers also follow a common form of binge using known as a run, where the users neglect food and sleep to continue using the drug every few hours.
Effects of Meth on the Brain
Dopamine is one crucial chemical that our brain produces, and it is involved in various processes such as motivation, body movement, and rewarding behaviors. Meth elevates the production of this naturally produced chemical and releases high levels of dopamine. This encourages the addict’s brain to adapt drug-taking behavior that causes the uncontrollable urge to consume meth.
Short Term Effects of Using Meth
Meth is a stimulant that induces negative effects on the body even after consuming in smaller proportions. The drug can impact someone the same way as other stimulants such as amphetamine and cocaine do. Also, short-term consumption may lead to the following symptoms:
- Decreased appetite, a symptom that keeps elevating as the dose is increased.
- A sudden increase in physical activity and wakefulness. This often results in making the individual feel more energetic and confident.
- Can make the user feel they are invincible. This symptom can cause the intaker to be prone to fall in dangerous situations.
- Breathing issues which results in extremely fast breathing.
- Irregular and rapid heartbeat.
- A sudden increase in body temperature and blood pressure.
Long Term Effects of Using Meth
Frequent consumption of meth can lead to various health problems some of which can even get engraved deep within a healthy mind. These psychological issues can further lead to numerous other problems that can further degrade the health of an individual. When meth is abused for a longer period, the brain develops a dependence on the drug and pushes the user to use it more. This dependence turns into an addiction and may stick with a person for a lifetime.
Long-term use of meth also has several physical and psychological effects such as:
- Heart-related issues
- Problems related to the respiratory system.
- High chance of liver failure.
- Black teeth or also known as meth teeth where the user’s teeth decay to a level where they are blackened and are almost destroyed.
- Kidney issues and possibly failure.
- The aging process can be accelerated and may result in premature aging.
- Problems associated with reproduction
- Skin infection and decaying.
- High blood pressure and high body temperatures.
- Degrading physical health and sudden weight loss.
- A cardiac arrest that may lead to death.
- Altered brain chemistry which results in high production of dopamine.
- Impaired cognition
- Memory loss and the lack of concentration
- Clinical depression
- Delusions and paranoia.
- The inability to feel pleasure in anything else like sex, games, outdoor activities, etc., except consuming methamphetamine.
- Aggressive behavior.
Signs of Meth Addiction
The addiction for meth develops quickly and can make a person depend on the drug even after one or two times of use. The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders suggests that an individual can be classified as having a meth addiction if he or she meets any of the two criteria within one year.
The criteria are:
- Using meth in conditions where they or other people can be at risk such as driving under the influence of meth or overdosing.
- Neglecting any other responsibility like academic, professional, and personal, and choosing meth use over and above everything.
- Personal or social issues sourcing because of an individual’s habit of consuming meth.
- Abusing larger amounts of methamphetamine for long periods.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after leaving meth even for a day.
- Developing a tolerance for the drug, meaning requiring more and more meth to get the same high.
- Spending large amounts of money and time on meth.
- Failed attempts to control or completely quit the meth abuse.
- Heightened drug cravings.
If up to three of the above criteria are met, the methamphetamine abuse disorder is considered mild. Four or five symptoms account for a moderate disorder, while six and more are considered a sign for a severe meth abuse disorder.