Meth is a very dangerous and highly addictive drug. It is used by a wide range of different types of people in the United States. However, it is typically more common among old teens or young adults, with the average age of a meth user being around 30 years old, much younger than cocaine and heroin users. This fact may be due to habitual users tending to overdose, or wind up in jail, well before becoming a middle aged adult. Although, there are still many people who are not in their 20’s or 30’s that still abuse meth as well. According to a recent survey conducted in 2017, nearly 1.6 million people reported having used meth at least once within the last year, with around 53% of them stating that they were addicted and roughly around 22% said that they had progressed far enough into their substance abuse disorder or addiction that they began injecting the drug into their veins.
What is methamphetamine, or crystal meth?
Meth, also known by many other names such as crystal meth, methamphetamines, and ice, is usually seen in the form of a clear crystal or a white rock looking substance. Meth is an illegal drug that acts as a central nervous system stimulant. What makes this drug extremely dangerous is that there is no medicinal value so it is only made in illicit, unregulated labs by untrained people who are also highly likely to be drug users themselves. Many harmful chemicals, such as battery acid, drain cleaner, antifreeze, or lantern fuel, are used in this illegal manufacturing process. Overdose with this drug is also extremely likely as the safety and strength of the product go unmonitored and untested for safe human consumption.
The truth around meth that it is highly toxic becomes even more apparent when you begin looking at some of the physical and mental side effects that are commonly seen among steady meth users. One of these side effects is that meth can cause the person's body temperature to become so high that they either pass out or die, causing what is usually considered an unintended overdose.
Common short term side effects of meth abuse include:
- Nausea, upset stomach, or vomiting
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or body temperature
- Bizarre, obsessive, erratic, and even violent behavior
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Increased anxiety, fear, panic, delusions, or psychosis
- Hallucinations, extreme excitability, and irritability
- Convulsions or seizures, even overdose
- Inability to sleep
These are just a few of the alarming short term side effects that are common among meth users. The highly toxic effects of meth do not take long to cause negative consequences to the brain and the body. With repeated use, these side effects only begin to worsen.
Meth abuse causes changes to the overall structure and function of the brain.
For instance, prolonged meth use causes damage to the dopamine circuit in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most often related to pleasure and is responsible for those feel-good emotions associated with things like eating a piece of chocolate cake, or being intimate with a loved one. Dopamine is associated with reward driven behavior, it causes those feel-good sensations to increase the likelihood that a certain action will be completed again. Over time, with repeated release of the brain chemical known as dopamine, especially in unnatural situations, (such as meth abuse) the receptors become less sensitive. When receptors become less sensitive, this makes it much harder for a person to feel pleasure from natural situations.
Not only can overuse of meth cause the dopamine receptors in the brain become less sensitive, it also decreases the natural supply of dopamine in the brain. Eventually, this may lead to a permanent dopamine deficiency and has been shown to have the same effects as a condition known as Parkinson’s disease. Abusing methamphetamine can triple the chance of developing Parkinson’s for some people, it can even increase the chance of developing Parkinson’s up to 5 times for women. This condition affects the body's ability to control its muscle movements.
Unfortunately, these are not the only changes to the brain that occur from long-term meth abuse. Research has shown damage to the areas that affect both memory and emotion. It can also lead to changes in impulse control and the decision making process, diminishing the person's ability to stop certain behaviors. Some of these changes can even be permanent, usually depending on the severity of damage.
Some other physical side effects of meth use include:
- Permanent damage to blood vessels in the heart and brain, increasing chances of stroke, heart attacks, and even death.
- Damage to kidneys and liver from highly toxic chemicals.
- Damage to lungs if inhaled. May cause many different respiratory problems.
- Extreme tooth decay. A condition also known as meth mouth, which is where a person has severe tooth decay and gum disease with teeth breaking or falling out.
- Infectious diseases and skin abscesses if injected.
- Psychosis, including auditory and visual hallucinations.
- Weight loss. May also suffer malnutrition.
- Skin lesions or scabs caused by excessive picking, usually linked to “meth mites”. Meth mites are imaginary bugs meth users believe to be crawling on or under their skin.
There are many other long-term side effects someone may experience with prolonged substance abuse. However, not all of the side effects are related to someone's physical or mental health. An addiction to meth has also been known to cause damage to other areas of people's lives.
Meth abuse can destroy your life.
Not only does meth destroy your appearance or your health, but it also destroys your life. When someone becomes addicted to meth, that is the only thing that starts to matter. Many people suffer job loss, homelessness, and problems with the law. Close relationships with family, friends, and children get ruined because of an addiction to meth. While meth abuse may destroy these aspects of your life, rehabilitation from a meth addiction is possible.
So, if you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please come get help from us today. You are not alone, many of us have been where you are before so we understand what it takes to get and stay on the road to recovery. We are here to help and we can show you the way! An addiction to meth is certainly not worth losing everything you have.