Methamphetamine, otherwise known as Meth, falls under the category of a stimulant. After incredible popularity in the 1960s, it was later recognized under the Controlled Substance Act as a schedule II substance. This means that even though Meth can be used for medical purposes, it is also highly addictive.
Due to this, it became a common drug in the 1980s in the streets, like it is today.
Notably, the drug also comes in the form of prescription meth which is used for medical purposes. Prescription meth, also known as Desoxyn, is known to help treat Obesity or ADHD. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this drug can only be administered in small doses to avoid addiction.
Meth comes into two forms as indicated below:
- Crystal Meth: Usually in the form of crystal rocks, crystal meth can either be blue or clear in color. Due to its glass-like appearance, users often refer to this drug as glass, Tina, Ice and/or even shards.
- Powder Meth: Odorless and easily dissolves in liquid, powder meth can either be yellow, pink, brown or white. Like crystal meth, this form can be smoked as well. However, users can also inject or snort it.
Please note, this particular drug is often packed with over-the-counter medication. Since it is often “cooked” in illegal labs or people’s homes, they can be easily mixed with other substances as well. From ether, red phosphorus and talcum powder to iodine crystals.
The people that “cook” and sell do the above to increase the amount they sell while using less meth. In turn, they make more profit regardless of the safety of the buyer.
As mentioned earlier, Meth is incredibly addictive. In 2017, at least 1.6 million United Citizens were reported to have used Meth. This statistic is according to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
According to the 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment, American teenagers between the ages of 12-17 had been found to use the drug. The report continues to state that these teenagers were over 9,000 in number.
These statistics become even more alarming when one considers that one can easily overdose and die from Methamphetamine. This then brings us to the next question: why is Meth so addictive?
Why is Meth so Addictive?
It’s important to mention right away that a person can become addicted after using it just once. This is how powerfully addictive this drug is. Methamphetamine is not just a stimulant; it is also an illicit drug.
Methamphetamine specifically targets the central nervous system. Once consumed, it increases the release of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Dopamine, other than sending messages between nerve cells, is responsible for pleasure.
In other words, when we consume Meth, the body increases the release of dopamine. This, in turn, we experience a pleasurable high.
Notably, the euphoric mood experienced from the Meth is even stronger than Cocaine. According to Chief science officer at Recovery Centers of America, PhD, Deni Carise, this is because of the incredibly high levels of dopamine released.
After the high is over, the user tends to remember the high and ends up craving more of it. Hence, the user will end up taking it every time they want to experience the high again. Over time, the brain will reduce the amount of dopamine. This then causes the user to use even more meth just to experience that euphoria.
The need to use more and more Meth over time is what makes the drug addictive. Additionally, it makes it very easy for one to overdose on and die.
Symptoms and Signs of Meth Addiction
When someone starts using Meth, they often become dependent first. Addiction follows after, which falls under the long-term effect and symptoms of the drug use. Below, we first start by highlighting the short-term effects of using Methamphetamine:
Short term signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Sustained happy mood
- Delusional behavior
- Going days without sleeping
Long- Term Physical Signs and Symptoms
- Meth Mouth: Meth users often suffer from rotten decaying teeth, tooth loss and even gum disease.
- Respiratory Issues: Meth is known to damage lungs; hence users often experience breathing problems.
- Skin Problems: Rashes and acne are just some of the skin issues experienced by those that abuse the drug in question. They also experience the sensation of insects crawling on their skin which can lead to itching. This is why most of them often have open sores.
- Cardiovascular Issues: From severe chest pains and rapid heartbeat to irregular heartbeat, meth users often struggle with heart issues.
- Nasal Problems
- Weight loss
- Dilated Pupils
- Increased libido: Meth abusers often experience an increase in their sex drive. Additionally, their sexual inhibitions lower and hence, seek out unsafe sexual behavior. Such behavior could lead to individuals contracting STDs or HIV/AIDS.
Long- Term Psychological Signs and Symptoms
- Changes in appetite
- Flat affect: Flat affect is characterized by emotional numbness.
- Little to no motivation
- Increased confidence: Meth users often experience an inflated sense of self and heightened assertiveness.
- Trouble sleeping
- Suicidal thoughts
- Memory problems
- Inability to feel pleasure, otherwise known as Anhedonia
Regardless of the consequences of using Meth, it remains pleasurable to many users. Why is that? Other than the intense feeling of euphoria, what makes the drug so alluring? Below, we list the top reasons:
- As mentioned before, Meth can improve someone’s mood. However, the state of being high can last for hours or even days.
- Users tend to experience an intense burst of energy
- Meth tends to enhance body movements
- Meth, whether crystal or powder, can increase a person’s libido
- It’s cheap. This fact makes it highly available, even to teenagers
In conclusion, meth is a highly addictive illegal drug that can affect someone’s life negatively. Regardless of this, its ability to heighten someone’s mood, among other things, makes it highly alluring.