What is Methamphetamine?
In this upcoming section, we’ll be exploring methamphetamine addiction in detail. Specifically, we’ll examine what methamphetamine is and the various forms it can take. Additionally, we’ll explore the similarities between methamphetamine and amphetamines to better understand how this drug can have such a devastating impact on individuals and communities alike.
Forms of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine has distinct chemical variations, which define the different forms the drug takes.
- Methamphetamine can take the form of crystal meth, powder, or pill.
- Crystal meth is the most common form of methamphetamine that is sought after in illicit markets.
- Powdered methamphetamine can be snorted or mixed with water and injected.
- Meth pills contain a mixture of other substances like caffeine and ephedrine.
These different forms of methamphetamine vary in purity, potency, duration, onset time, and how they are ingested. The typical route of administration for taking methamphetamine is smoking or injecting as both produce an intense and immediate effect. Consuming pills or snorting powdered doses does not have such a rush-like effect comparable to the other methods.
Methamphetamine’s purity varies depending on its source, but these variations usually don’t impact users’ decisions to use this dangerous drug. As mentioned earlier, crystal meth is cheaply manufactured using ingredients bought from local stores with a high potential for abuse. Users from all demographics are vulnerable to becoming addicted to methamphetamine and risk long-lasting effects on their mental health besides putting their lives at stake.
Effects of ‘binge and crash’ pattern
The pattern of binge and crash is associated with significant impacts on the human body when consuming Methamphetamine. Individuals using this drug often take it in a “binge” pattern – high doses taken repeatedly over several hours or days, followed by an abrupt pause or “crash.” This behavior increases the risk of overdose and can lead to various health issues.
In such instances, due to the intense stimulation provided by Methamphetamine, individuals tend to have increased blood pressure, higher heart rate, reduced appetite, and much more prolonged wakefulness. In contrast, during the crash period, the reverse happens where they feel a lack of energy and an inability to stay awake. This bouncing back and forth between both phases has immense physiological consequences on their body.
Prolonged usage of Methamphetamine leads to similar effects as other stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines. However, meth causes a faster rise in dopamine levels with an increased magnitude 10 times than in natural circumstances. Such persistence leads to reinforcing the habit-forming desire for drug consumption.
To reclaim lives from these harsh realities associated with methamphetamine addiction, behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) practices are known for treating addiction effectively. CBT aims to comprehend negative thoughts encouraging substance use while helping individuals manage those thoughts efficiently through exploring prosocial activities that create substantial meaning in life.
How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Brain?
Increase in dopamine levels
Methamphetamine causes a surge in dopamine levels in the brain, similar to other addictive substances.
This increased dopamine release reinforces drug-taking behavior and leads to addiction. The ‘binge and crash’ pattern of use of Methamphetamine causes prolonged increases in dopamine levels that can lead to neurotoxicity.
Moreover, the increase in dopamine levels caused by Methamphetamine use also affects other regions of the brain, leading to changes in mood, cognition, and reward processing. Prolonged use of Methamphetamine can cause structural and functional damage to the brain as well as negatively impact motor function.
Studies show that individuals who have sustained Methamphetamine use have lower responsiveness to natural rewards such as food or social interaction. This suggests that long-term Methamphetamine use might lead to reduced dopamine receptor availability.
Strong reinforcement of drug-taking behavior
The use of methamphetamine creates a strong reinforcement of drug-taking behavior that can lead to addiction. Methamphetamine increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, causing a feeling of pleasure and reward when using the drug. This feeling reinforces the behavior, making it harder for individuals to stop using as they associate the drug with this pleasurable experience.
The longer an individual uses methamphetamine, the more challenging it becomes to resist cravings and break free from addiction.
Moreover, this reinforcement leads to tolerance buildup, which means an individual needs higher doses to experience the same level of pleasure. Due to tolerance, individuals tend to increase their dose intake despite knowing the adverse effects associated with methamphetamine use.
Furthermore, continued use of methamphetamine can lead to changes in neural pathways affecting one’s decision-making abilities and impulse control further promoting strong reinforcement towards drug-taking behavior.
The fear of missing out on this pleasurable experience makes it even harder for individuals to seek help or quit using methamphetamine, ultimately leading to serious health concerns – including death due to overdose or other long-term effects like cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders.
Short-Term Effects of Methamphetamine
Additionally, the effects on wakefulness, appetite, breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and body temperature are extremely concerning. These short-term effects can rapidly spiral into addiction, destroying lives and communities.
Let’s dive deeper into the dark reality of methamphetamine addiction and explore the immediate physical repercussions this drug can have on the body.
Similarity to other stimulants
Methamphetamine shares similarities with other stimulants in its effects on the central nervous system. It increases wakefulness, decreases appetite, and elevates blood pressure and heart rate. However, methamphetamine has a longer-lasting effect than other stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines due to its slower breakdown in the body.
In addition to these effects, methamphetamine can also cause hyperthermia, or dangerously high body temperature, which can lead to organ damage and death. It can also cause rapid heartbeat and irregular breathing patterns.
Unique to methamphetamine is its “binge and crash” pattern of use. Users often take multiple doses within a short period to prolong the euphoric effects of the drug. However, this contributes to the development of tolerance and addiction.
To combat the negative health effects of methamphetamine use, users must seek treatment through evidence-based therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy or contingency management. These focus on changing behavior patterns related to drug use and reinforcing positive behaviors. In conjunction with medication-assisted treatment and support from family or a recovery community, individuals struggling with methamphetamine addiction have better chances for long-term recovery.
Effects on wakefulness, appetite, breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and body temperature
The impact of methamphetamine on the human body can affect several functions, including wakefulness, appetite, breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and body temperature.
The following Table shows the acute physiological effects of methamphetamine:
|Methamphetamine increases alertness and energy levels in people who take it. They can stay awake for extended periods without fatigue.
|Methamphetamine suppresses one’s appetite while increasing metabolism causing severe weight loss. It causes gastrointestinal issues like constipation or irregular bowel movements.
|Methamphetamine affects respiration causing dyspnea and rapid breathing or shortness of breath symptoms in users.
|The substance stimulates the central nervous system leading to an increase in heart rate and elevated blood pressure called tachycardia and hypertension respectively making them prone to cardiovascular disease and stroke over time as well as other related health problems such as altered heart rhythms.
|Meth affects blood flow through vasoconstriction which disrupts normal thermoregulation consequently resulting in fluctuations in body temperature ranging from hyperthermia to hypothermia
It is important to note that these effects are worse when methamphetamine is used repeatedly or taken at higher doses.
Pro Tip: If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms after using methamphetamine, seek immediate medical attention to avoid severe complications or fatal outcomes due to poisoning.
Other Health Effects of Methamphetamine
While many people are aware of the immediate dangers of using meth, such as overdose and addiction, there are also a host of long-term health effects that can cause lasting harm.
In this section, we’ll explore some of the other health effects of methamphetamine use, including:
- The long-term damage it can do to the body
- The increased risk of infectious diseases such as HIV
The continued use of Methamphetamine can have severe long-term effects on an individual’s health. It can cause significant damage to the brain, including a decreased ability to regulate emotion and impaired cognition. Additionally, it can lead to anxiety and depression even after discontinuing use.
Long-term Methamphetamine use can also result in cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke. Furthermore, chronic users of the drug often experience dental issues like tooth decay or even loss due to poor dental hygiene habits.
Individuals who inject Methamphetamine are at high risk of contracting infectious diseases such as hepatitis B & C and HIV. This is because needles used for injecting the drug are often shared, increasing the likelihood of infection.
It is essential that treatment for Methamphetamine addiction includes addressing the long-term effects of its continued use. Therapy sessions like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help individuals develop coping mechanisms that prevent relapse while simultaneously repairing strained relationships affected by their addiction. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also promote healing while reducing cravings for the drug over time.
Increased risk of HIV and other infectious diseases
The usage of Methamphetamine poses an increased risk of HIV and other infectious diseases. The drug injection mode can cause transmission of bloodborne pathogens such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, through sharing contaminated needles. Similarly, those who participate in risky sexual behaviors while under drug influence are at a higher risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), leading to the spread of disease within meth-using communities.
In addition to physical health risks, methamphetamine addiction degrades one’s mental health causing delusions and paranoia with a high probability of violent outbreaks. Individuals tend to isolate themselves from family and friends furthering exposure to HIV/AIDS and STIs through their lifestyle choices.
Pro Tip: One should avoid injecting methamphetamine or participating in unprotected sexual activity while under the influence to prevent the risk of HIV/AIDS and other STI acquisition. It is important to seek professional assistance early when one exhibits signs of addiction before it turns into full addiction.
Overdose on Methamphetamine
In this part, we’ll explore the grim realities of overdose deaths associated with methamphetamine use, as well as the concerning rise in opioid overdose deaths. We’ll also dive into the treatments available for methamphetamine overdose, including emergency interventions and ongoing support for recovery. These are critical issues that must be addressed in order to combat the destructive grip of addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), methamphetamine overdose deaths have increased by over 4 times between 2011 to 2018.
Overdose Deaths and Rise in opioid deaths
The increase in overdose deaths and the surge in opioid-related fatalities have become a major public health concern associated with Methamphetamine use. The sudden rise can be attributed to the fact that Methamphetamine is increasingly being adulterated with other substances such as fentanyl, which can be even more potent and lethal when combined.
Overdose deaths involving methamphetamine have increased significantly over the years, especially among middle-aged adults. The rise in these cases has also been linked to an increase in opioid use as many people tend to mix these drugs with other substances unknowingly. Moreover, a significant percentage of heroin users also use Methamphetamine alongside it leading to higher chances of overdosing.
It is important to note that most overdoses occur not due to intentional harm but rather due to a lack of knowledge and awareness. Therefore, educating and raising awareness among those who use or are at risk of using methamphetamine is crucial.
Without adequate intervention measures in place focusing on prevention and treatment, the methamphetamine crisis continues to dominate headlines with devastating consequences particularly for communities already grappling with socioeconomic challenges brought on by inequality and limited access to healthcare.
Treatment for Methamphetamine Overdose
Methamphetamine overdose demands immediate medical attention. In such cases, a combination of medical treatments is necessary, including stabilizing the heart rate and blood pressure, providing oxygen therapy, and ensuring adequate hydration throughout the treatment process. Quick administration of medication for high blood pressure or seizure control may be necessary to prevent permanent damage. Treatment for methamphetamine overdose should only be administered by trained medical professionals.
The risk of overdose is increased when people use binging and crashing patterns or mix methamphetamine with other drugs. It’s important to know that preventing drug misuse initiation and intentional abstinence from drug use altogether are still the best strategies to avoid accidental overdoses.
With rising incidence rates, understanding the risks and treatment options associated with methamphetamine overdose is more critical than ever before. If you or someone you know has fallen victim to an overdose, it’s essential to seek immediate medical help and intervention from appropriate healthcare providers trained in treating individuals struggling with addiction.
After discontinuing prolonged use of methamphetamine, a person may experience an array of negative physiological and psychological withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are highly uncomfortable, but they’re not lethal in general cases.
Withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, depression, agitation, increased appetite, excessive sleeping, vivid dreams or nightmares, and aches and pains. In some extreme cases, the individual can also experience suicidal thoughts or intense drug cravings. The symptoms can last for several days up to weeks depending on how long the drug was abused and how much was used.
It’s essential to note that there is no specific treatment dedicated to withdrawal from Methamphetamine addiction. However, people can seek professional help by attending rehabilitation centers that offer treatment for methamphetamine addiction including cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions or other counseling therapies tailored to suit their needs best.
Missing out on seeking help for Methamphetamine addiction only increases the risk of developing severe adverse health effects from Methamphetamine abuse. It’s important for individuals addicted to this substance to consult professionals when faced with withdrawal symptoms during their journey of recovery.
The Effectiveness of behavioral therapies in Treating Methamphetamine Addiction
Behavioral therapies have proven to be effective in treating methamphetamine addiction. Individuals with methamphetamine addiction are encouraged to participate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Contingency Management (CM), and Motivational Interviewing (MI) programs. CBT focuses on changing the patient’s negative beliefs and distorted thinking patterns, while CM provides tangible rewards for abstinence from drug use. MI fosters long-term motivation for recovery by addressing the patient’s ambivalence towards change. These therapies can produce long-lasting behavioral changes in people with methamphetamine addiction, thereby aiding in the recovery process.
Studies have shown that the use of these behavioral therapies has not only reduced drug use but has also improved one’s social functioning, and mental health, and reduced risky behaviors that lead to disease spread among others. By addressing comorbid disorders such as depression and anxiety, CBT can improve overall well-being post-treatment.
Furthermore, research shows that combining behavioral therapy with medication-assisted treatment produces better outcomes overall, resulting in higher rates of abstinence and a decreased risk of relapse. The combination approach provides relief from cravings, reduces withdrawal symptoms, and helps manage co-existing conditions while altering behavior tendencies positively.
FAQs Methamphetamine Addiction
What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It’s chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
How does methamphetamine affect the brain?
Methamphetamine increases the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. The drug’s ability to rapidly release high levels of dopamine in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug-taking behavior, making the user want to repeat the experience.
What are the short-term effects of methamphetamine use?
Short-term effects of methamphetamine use include increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, faster breathing, rapid and/or irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure and body temperature. Even small amounts of the drug can result in these health effects, similar to those of other stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines.
What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine use?
Long-term methamphetamine use has many negative consequences. These include extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, intense itching leading to skin sores from scratching, anxiety, changes in brain structure and function, confusion, memory loss, sleeping problems, violent behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, and cognitive problems (those involving with thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering). Studies indicate that HIV causes more injury to nerve cells and more cognitive problems in people who use methamphetamine than in people who have HIV and don’t use the drug.
What are the health effects of exposure to secondhand methamphetamine smoke?
Researchers don’t yet know whether people breathing in secondhand methamphetamine smoke can get high or have other health effects. What they do know is that people can test positive for methamphetamine after exposure to secondhand smoke. More research is needed in this area.
Is methamphetamine addictive?
Yes, methamphetamine is highly addictive. When people stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, fatigue, severe depression, psychosis, and intense drug cravings.