Meth (Methamphetamine) is a powerful and intense synthetic stimulant that is used to reach a quick “high” (an intense euphoric reaction to a drug). It is not considered to be physically addictive, but it is exceptionally psychologically addictive and withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, severe depression, psychosis, and intense drug cravings.
When injected or smoked, the meth immediately produces a rush of dopamine (dopamine controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers), which is released in the brain and causes an intense high or “flash.” The effects are short-lived, only a few minutes, but it is considered to be tremendously pleasurable.
Because of the short-term effects, many people often abuse this drug repeatedly in a binge and crash pattern and sometimes will even give up food and sleep while continuously taking the drug every few hours.
After being a widely popular pharmaceutical drug on the market, methamphetamine became classified as a schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act in 1971 and addiction declined but in the 1980s meth addiction increased once again as meth became a popular street drug. The key ingredients in meth are the stimulants ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which is often found in over the counter cold medicines.
These ingredients are “cooked in a lab or a remote home and made into a consumable pill, powder, or glass fragment. Meth labs are notoriously dangerous and very illegal because the byproducts of the drug’s creation process are extremely toxic and combustible. Meth is very popular in remote and rural areas.
What does methamphetamine look like?
How long does methamphetamine stay in your body?
Why is meth so dangerous?
- Heightened energy
- Increased alertness
- Improved concentration
- Amplified confidence
Signs and symptoms of methamphetamine abuse
- Aggressive and violent behavior
- Severe dental problems
- Dramatic weight loss
- Dilation of pupils
- Disturbed sleep patterns
Another consequence of using meth is the onset of obsessive behaviors. People may begin to participate in repetitive activities and behaviors for prolonged periods of time as a result of meth destroying the brain’s inhibitory control.
Paranoia and aggression also often result from meth use, as does the onset of hallucinations and delusions, including feeling things such as having bugs crawling under their skin and hearing voices that are not really there.
Meth use can directly impair a person’s frontal lobe, which is the area of the brain responsible for:
- Controlling impulses
- Understanding the consequences of one’s behavior
- Governing sound judgment
As a result of the long-lasting cognitive impairment that meth users experience, their ability to learn new things becomes clouded, and performing basic verbal and motor skills can suddenly become difficult.
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What is the difference between amphetamine and methamphetamine?
Amphetamines are a group of stimulant drugs that affect the central nervous system by having psychoactive properties. Methamphetamine is a class of amphetamines that are often abused in illicit forms, commonly known as crystal meth. Structurally similar to amphetamines, methamphetamine is much more potent, last longer and results in a higher potential of abuse. Methamphetamine is also made from harmful household ingredients potentially resulting in worsening side effects compared to amphetamines.
Amphetamines are often prescribed from stimulant effects and are now used for individuals with obesity, narcolepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common brands of prescription amphetamines include Adderall, Desoxyn, Dexedrine, and DextroStat. When an individual without ADHD or a sleep disorder abuses amphetamines, the drug can produce euphoria and a highly energized state. Adderall is often abused among college and high school students as a potent study drug, enabling students to stay up all night and cram before a big exam.
Methamphetamine and other drugs
Oftentimes individuals will mix methamphetamines with other substances such as alcohol, opiates, Xanax, Suboxone, Viagra, and ecstasy.
- Methamphetamine and alcohol: The stimulant effects of methamphetamines can often mask the sedative effects of alcohol, which can lead an individual to drink more than they would typically consume.
- Methamphetamine and opioids: Individuals often mix meth and opioids for the polydrug combination known as “speedball”. Morphine is one of the most common opioids used for this combination. A speedball can have serious side effects and will often cause the user to have problems walking, as well as decreased response times, which can increase the risk of self-injury.
- Methamphetamine and Xanax: Anxiety is a well-known side effect from methamphetamine abuse and Xanax is often used to combat this feeling however when Xanax and meth are mixed, cardiac complications can often occur.
- Methamphetamine and Viagra: Viagra and methamphetamine are both associated with risky sexual behavior and this combination can increase sexual promiscuity leading to higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases especially among gay men.