Methamphetamine, What Is It?
Methamphetamine was used widely in the 1950’s to help keep truckers awake, college students more alert, and athletes on the cutting edge. That was before doctors found out how dangerous the drug was.
Street or slang names for methamphetamine include speed, meth, chalk, ice, crystal, glass and crank.
Methamphetamines are a group of substances; most of them synthetic, that have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system. Methamphetamine induces a strong feeling of euphoria and is highly psychologically addictive.
Methamphetamines can be injected, snorted, smoked or ingested orally. Pure Methamphetamine is a colorless, crystalline solid sold on the streets as “glass,” “ice,” or “crystal.” Methamphetamine is also sold as a less pure crystalline powder called “crank” or “speed” and in a rock formation termed “tweak,” “dope” or “raw.”
Methamphetamines cause an intense case of euphoria and excitement by acting directly on the brain’s reward mechanisms, making this user of meth prone to drug addiction. The drug rapidly enters the brain and causes a cascading release of norepinephrine and dopamine.
When swallowed or snorted (also called bumping), Methamphetamines give the user an intense high. Injections create a quick but strong high called a “rush” or a “flash.” Methamphetamines, similar to regular amphetamines, take away a person’s appetite. Many people initially use Methamphetamines in order to lose a great deal of weight rather quickly. Users may also become obsessed with performing repetitive tasks such as cleaning or washing their hands.
Methamphetamines also give someone the ability to stay awake for long periods of time and do continuous activity without the need for sleep. Methamphetamines pump up a person’s heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. Methamphetamines also cause sweating, headaches, blurred vision, dry mouth, hot flashes and dizziness. Most people who abuse Methamphetamines feel high and full of energy. However, this same drug can be very damaging to the body and the brain, especially with repeated or long-term abuse. When taken in high dosages, Methamphetamines can cause dangerously high body temperature, confusion, convulsions and even death. Meth addicts may also suffer from a condition referred to as “meth mouth” in which they lose their teeth abnormally quickly. This condition is brought on by a combination of drug-induced psychological and physiological changes that result in dry mouth, extended periods of poor oral hygiene, frequent consumption of high calorie, carbonated beverages and tooth grinding and clenching. Meth causes a decreased production of acid-fighting saliva and increased thirst, resulting in an increased risk for tooth decay.
Meth users may also exhibit sexually compulsive behavior and may engage in risky behavior with multiple partners.
Common side effects of Meth use include:
- Diarrhea, nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Increased libido
- Jaw clenching
Side effects associated with long-term use include:
- Drug craving
- Weight loss
- Withdrawal-related depression
- Erectile dysfunction
- Rapid tooth decay
- Acne and skin sores
- Amphetamine psychosis
Withdrawal symptoms include an increase in sleepiness and eating, anxiety, drug craving and other depression-like symptoms.
If you, or someone you love, are suffering from an addiction to Methamphetamines, help is available. Detoxification from meth and withdrawal can be difficult and very painful to watch a loved one go through. You can support a loved one during their recovery and withdrawal by helping them to get plenty of sleep, ensuring they get plenty of fluids, encouraging and supporting them in their recovery and helping them learn to live life without the drug.