Meth is an insidiously addictive drug, leaving the chronic abuser with difficulty in experiencing any pleasure other that obtained from the drug. The chemically-induced and transitory nature of the “pleasure” fuels its abuse. Coupled with the methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, depression and intense cravings the chronic user will experience when he or she tries to quit, there may be no more viscious trap that that of methamphetamine addiction.
Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant which affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine is also known as meth, crystal, chalk, ice and a number of other slang terms. It is a white, bitter-tasting, odorless crystalline powder, easily dissolved in alcohol or water.
Meth was developed early in the 20th century from amphetamine. It was originally used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Methamphetamine, as does amphetamine, causes increased talkativeness and activity, a decreased appetite, and a pleasurable sense of well-being and/or euphoria.
Methamphetamine, however, differs from amphetamine in that at comparable doses, much greater amounts of the meth get into the brain, thus making it a more potent stimulant. Meth also has more harmful and longer lasting effects on the user’s central nervous system.
These characteristics make meth a drug with a high potential for widespread abuse.
What Meth Does
Those who chronically abuse meth are likely to exhibit significant anxiety, mood disturbances, confusion, insomnia and violent behavior. Psychotic mental manifestations induced by chronic meth abuse include paranoia, auditory and visual hallucinations, and delusions. These psychotic-type symptoms and behaviors can last for months–or even years–after the person ceases abusing meth. With those individuals who exhibited psychotic behavior when abusing meth, stress experienced later in time has been shown to cause a spontaneous recurrence of meth psychosis.
Meth abuse has also been shown to cause significant structural and functional changes in different areas of the brain, and it is thought that these changes may account for a number of the cognitive and emotional problems chronic meth abusers exhibit.
Were that not enough damage, meth use can increase the risk of stroke, potentially causing irreversible brain damage. One recent study highlighted a higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease amongst those individuals who had used methamphetamine in the past.
There is more. Long-term meth users suffer from a number of physical effects, in addition to the behavioral and neurological problems detailed earlier. These include weight loss and skin sores, attributed to the scratching and picking of the skin to “get rid of” the imagined insects crawling under the skin, the “meth mites”.
Additionally, there is severe tooth decay and tooth loss, often referred to as “meth mouth.” The dental problems are thought to be cause by the combined factors of poor nutrition and poor dental hygiene in conjunction with meth-caused teeth grinding and dry mouth.
The Long-Term Consequences
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) details the potential long-term effects of meth use. All are a heavy price to pay, and those who have become prisoners of meth addiction face a future which does not bode well for its quality of life.
NIDA identifies the following as the long-term effects of methamphetamine use:
- Addiction. Meth is known to be one of the most highly-addictive illicit drugs.
- Psychosis which includes repetitive motor activity, hallucinations and paranoia.
- Memory loss.
- Increased distractibility.
- Changes in the structure and function of the brain.
- Deficits in motor skills.
- Deficits in thinking skills.
- Severe dental problems.
- Weight loss.
- Mood disturbances.
Drug prevention education is necessary to raise widespread awareness of the dangers and risk of methamphetamine, and the long-term and devastating consequences of its use and abuse.
For those who are struggling with methamphetamine abuse and addiction, there is help. Please call us for more information.