Crystal Meth Addiction and Abuse
Methamphetamine, also referred to as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive stimulant that provides users with a rush of energy and euphoria. Meth increases levels of dopamine along with adrenaline to create a pleasurable feeling and increase in mental and physical energy.
Methamphetamines produce a strong effect on the dopamine reward circuitry in the brain. For this reason, meth has a high potential for abuse. Addiction can develop quickly, and users may find themselves seeking or craving the drug and find it very difficult to quit.
Methamphetamine use often occurs over a prolonged period of time as people can use the drug for days on end often without sleeping. This type of binge use is followed by a crash that involves a period of extreme fatigue and exhaustion. Additionally, users who are experiencing a crash may experience anxiety, agitation, and depression.
Due to the intense stimulation caused by meth on the brain, body, and nervous system, prolonged meth use can produce many negative consequences that affect both psychical and mental health.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine (N-Methylamphetamine) is better known by its street names crystal meth or glass. It was first developed in the late 19th century in hopes that it could be used to treat asthma. In more recent years, N-methylamphetamine has been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity.
Still, even with its potential medical uses, methamphetamine remains a Schedule II controlled substance in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Not to mention, most of the meth sold on the streets isn’t the same as the one being used for medical treatment.
Methamphetamine is usually developed in private laboratories using a combination of other chemicals, including over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. Most of the time, the amphetamine chemicals found within these medicines are extracted through a chemical process that uses phosphorus, lithium, and/or gasoline.
Due to the nature of methamphetamine’s production, many of the products sold on the street are dangerous and contain chemicals not made for consumption.
Meth Addiction and Abuse
Methamphetamine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) by releasing excitatory neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine. Though these effects don’t last long, they are powerful and followed by a rapid drop in these brain chemicals, commonly known as a “crash.” The reduction in neurotransmitter levels can lead to a burned-out feeling, including feelings of depression and intense irritability.
Though the effects vary from person to person, users commonly feel the following:
- Empowerment, invincibility, and euphoria.
- Increased energy.
- Increased heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature.
- Increased restlessness, irritability, aggressiveness, and psychotic conduct (i.e. hallucinations and delusions).
- Reduced appetite.
It’s important to note that people struggling with meth addiction are also prone to a fatal overdose, which can occur if a user takes a large dosage that the body can’t handle. If you or someone you love is experiencing agitation, chest pain, psychosis, rapid or slow heartbeat, or seizures following meth use, you must call 911 as soon as possible.