Tue. May 17th, 2022

Crystal Meth Addiction

Meth is an all-too-accessible, highly addictive drug made from a variety of ingredients. As a central nervous system stimulant, it produces a rush, followed by a state of agitation. The relative ease of creating the drug, which is also known as methamphetamine, is the reason why it is one of the most popular illicit substances in the United States. In some areas of the country, meth addiction outpaces the rates for both heroin and cocaine addiction. Meth addiction is a debilitating disease, but there is hope for recovery. Many people successfully quit using the drug, and there is evidence that the brain can return to a normal state after a significant period of sobriety.

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant made from various forms of amphetamine — a common element in various over-the-counter medications. Methamphetamine is listed in the same drug class as cocaine, operating as both a stimulant and anorectic, which is an appetite suppressant. Originally prescribed as a decongestant, antidepressant and weight loss aid, methamphetamine was once widely and legally available in tablet and injectable forms.
A large population abused these products for their stimulant effects. After wide popularity as a pharmaceutical in the 1960s, meth became classified as a schedule II substance under the Controlled Substance Act in 1971 and addiction to the drug significantly decreased. Resurging in the 1980s, meth became popular again as a street drug. Methamphetamine remained popular in these same circumstances up to this day.
Currently, there is only one prescription methamphetamine drug on the market known as Desoxyn. It is used to treat obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The vast majority of methamphetamine distribution comes from illegal laboratories and imports. The key ingredient in meth is typically the stimulant ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which is found in some common medications. The product is “cooked” in a “laboratory” — commonly trailers or remotely located residential homes — and made into a consumable form. Meth labs are notoriously dangerous because the byproducts of the drug’s creation process (gas and spillage) are toxic and combustible.
The two most common names for methamphetamine — meth and crystal meth — correspond respectively with its two popular forms: powder and rock. Meth is a crystalline powder. It is most commonly white, though it can also be yellow, pink, or brown. It is odorless, bitter and can be dissolved in liquid. It’s most commonly consumed via smoking, snorting or injection. In some cases, it is compressed into a pill. Crystal meth is clear or blue and takes the shape of coarse crystals. These crystals are commonly said to resemble ice. The rock form of methamphetamine is usually smoked.
Many drug dealers “cut” methamphetamine with other substances to sell less of the actual drug for the same price and fetch a greater profit margin. These additional substances are often common household substances such as salt, sugar and talcum powder. In some cases, methamphetamine is cut with prescription medications, ranging from antidepressants to laxatives. These additives can enhance or alter the effect of the drug in a user’s system. After the excessive use of meth enters the body on countless occasions, the body becomes accustomed to the effects of the drug and it becomes the new normal.
Meth is three times as powerful as cocaine and is among the most difficult drugs to permanently quit. It triggers dependency faster than a majority of other illicit substances. Methamphetamine forces the brain to release an unnatural amount of dopamine at a given time, as well as norepinephrine, also known as adrenaline. The result is a rush, followed by a high. This chemical combination deeply affects the brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for emotion and memory. Any consistent use of the drug begins to rewire the decision-making centers of the brain.
The first few times a person gets high, the decision is a conscious choice made in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. After that, the decision moves to the hindbrain — the area responsible for non-voluntary action such as blinking and breathing. Methamphetamine use becomes something that the brain believes it must do to stay alive. It becomes a survival mechanism.
It is possible for the brain to return to a normal state when methamphetamine use feels voluntary, but this often takes several years of sobriety to achieve. While you may not become addicted to meth after one use, the drug does serve as an enormous temptation after just a single dose. The powerful euphoria of a methamphetamine high will often draw people back to the drug. After this, the brain’s wiring is likely to change and dosing becomes something that no longer feels voluntary. The human brain becomes dependent on meth in an extremely short amount of time.
People who use meth will often spiral into something called a binge, in which they become hyperactive and repeatedly dose with methamphetamine in hopes of maintaining the initial, euphoric high. This uncontrolled drug use will often decrease its potency, however, making achieving the high impossible. Eventually, a user will stop experiencing a high and “tweaking” begins. While tweaking, a user feels emptiness and unease. Many people testify to feeling a loss of identity during this time. It is also common for users to experience hallucinations and extreme itchiness. Addicts at this stage are at high risk for self-harm.
Eventually, if a person continues to use methamphetamine, the dopamine receptors in their brain are destroyed. This makes it impossible for them to experience a high, or even to perceive regular levels of pleasure. If a person has used meth more than once and want to use it again, they may be well on their way to developing a meth addiction. Meth addiction is a treatable condition. If you or someone you love is addicted to meth or crystal meth, your best shot at overcoming this disease is meth addiction rehabilitation. Over time, those who are addicted are likely to experience a variety of side effects. The following is a list of some of the short-term dangers of meth addiction:

  •   Brief surge of energy (euphoria)
  •   Increased blood pressure and respiration rate
  •   Insomnia
  •   Paranoia
  •   Seizures
  •   Irritability

Some of the long-term dangers of meth addiction include:

  •   Psychosis
  •   Prolonged anxiety
  •   Weakened immune system
  •   Brain damage
  •   Skin infections
  •   Heart infections

Another danger of addiction and perhaps the most well-known side effect is “meth mouth.” Meth mouth involves severe tooth decay, tooth loss, tooth fracture, acid erosion and a number of other problems of the teeth and gums. Meth addiction can certainly take a toll on the body and mind. The best way to treat it is to prevent it from developing, and the best way to prevent it from developing is to simply never start using the drug. Is meth addictive? It is, but the good news is, hundreds of rehab centers all over the country offer programs to treat addictions.

Meth is quite popular in rural areas. Some people believe that this is because many of its ingredients can be found in agricultural products such as fertilizer. In general, research shows rural areas are more prone to drug abuse and addiction overall. For example, these areas typically have the highest rates of binge drinking and driving under the influence. Some experts suggest that these areas are predisposed to substance abuse. Methamphetamine is also quite popular in suburban areas.
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