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Some Basic Information on Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine or meth, as it is popularly known, is a highly addictive stimulant. It is among the most widely used illicit drugs and is the most prevalent synthetic drug manufactured in the United States. Meth can be manufactured by using raw materials that are relatively cheap and it is presented as a crystalline white powder which is soluble in water and alcohol. It is odorless and bitter tasting. The active ingredient in methamphetamine is either ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Meth can be smoked, injected, taken orally, or snorted. The other slang names for meth include chalk, ice, crystal, glass, etc.

Methamphetamine basically alters the neurotransmitters found in the brain. Meth causes extra dopamine to be released. Dopamine initially affects the parts of the brain associated with learning and memory. On consistent use, the decision to take meth is directed from the part of the brain that controls involuntary actions such as breathing. Meth has a high potential for abuse and leads to physical and psychological dependence. The medical uses of methamphetamine are very restricted.

The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meth

Many individuals start using meth for the initial rush of good feelings that it brings. Whether smoked or intravenously injected, the meth user experiences an intense sensation that is called a 'rush'. A rush lasts only for a few minutes. The rush is subsequently followed by a 'high' that lasts from six to eight hours. When meth is taken orally or nasally, the same high is experienced but not the rush. The psychological effects experienced during the high by the meth user include: euphoria, increased confidence and invulnerability, increased strength, increased sexual desire, alertness, etc.

The meth high is followed by a 'low' that depresses the individual. The depression is purportedly very unpleasant and very uncomfortable. Meth causes a lot of physical harm to the body. Meth addicts frequently experience feelings of irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue, severe paranoia that may lead to thoughts of homicide and suicide, extreme hallucinations and severe cravings for the drug.

Meth addicts are known to keep injecting the drug every 2 to 3 hours over several days to avoid the low or 'crash' and maintain the high or 'binge'. Addicts are known to go without food and sleep for long periods.

Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Meth is manufactured using many dangerous chemical that are not supposed to be ingested. Long-term use in addicts causes severe ulceration in the mouths with loss of tissues, tooth decay, dry mouth, cracked teeth, etc. Brain alterations in meth addicts make it difficult for them to recognize and respond to facial expressions.

Meth addicts exhibit actions such as psychosis, hair pulling, self biting, repetitive banging of head on the wall, skin infections, scratching the skin, jaw clenching, facial twitches, among others.
Long-term damaging effects of meth include lung, liver, and kidney damage, insomnia, tremors and convulsions, memory loss, cerebrovascular problems leading to strokes, anorexia, etc.

Meth Addiction Treatment

Meth addiction is hard to treat. Complete treatment of meth addiction involves meth detoxification followed by meth rehabilitation. Usually medications for the addiction of the stimulant are prescribed during the detoxification period. The rehabilitation sessions consist of holistic therapy that include counseling sessions that help to build the individual's self esteem and knowledge as to how to deal with the cravings and stressors without the use of drugs. A meth user's brain can take as long as two years to start functioning as before. Studies have indicated that meth addicts take longer to recover from the addiction and require many more treatment attempts.

  • Addiction Recovery