Meth, also known as crystal, chalk, and ice, is a dangerous addictive drug that can damage both your brain and your body. The drug is highly addictive, reworking your brain chemistry to crave it intensely. This dangerous substance comes with a host of signs and symptoms. While addiction is difficult to escape on your own, it is a treatable disease.
Meth, or methamphetamine, is a powerful stimulant that works on the central nervous system to produce feelings of euphoria, increased sexual desire, increased energy, and excitement in recreational use. It was first synthesized in 1893 and has since been used as a performance enhancer by German forces in World War II and as an appetite suppressant in the 1950s.
Today, it is still used for weight reduction in some countries, but it’s a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, which means it has a high risk for abuse and addiction but also has some heavily restricted medical uses.
Still, meth is illegally produced, sold, and trafficked all over the world because it is relatively easy to make with substances that are easy to obtain. Some states restrict the sale of certain nasal decongestants that contain chemicals used to make meth, like pseudoephedrine.
Meth has profound effects on the brain even as compared to other highly addictive drugs. It works on multiple receptors and inhibits the uptake of certain neurotransmitters. Prolonged use may actually leave permanent damage, affecting the user’s ability to learn or causing psychosis. Studies show that it has long-term effects on areas of the brain that control memory and emotion, which explains long-lasting cognitive and emotional disorders.
Methamphetamine addiction has potent effects on the mind and body that will quickly become apparent to the person who is using, and may even become visible to friends and family. If you recreationally use meth and your wondering if you have developed dependence, there are many signs. As with most addiction, the first telltale sign of meth addiction is a powerful craving for the drug. If you attempt to stop using or use less and fail because of overwhelming cravings or uncomfortable symptoms, it may mean that you’ve become dependant on meth. Some other symptoms may include:
You don’t need to experience all of these symptoms to be addicted; however, these coupled with cravings may mean you have a substance abuse disorder. If you are worried that someone else may have a meth addiction, there may be some observable side effects like increased physical activity, isolation, dilated pupils, bad breath, unpredictable behavior, and repetitive, compulsive behavior.
If you or someone you know is showing the signs of meth addiction, the first thing to do is to seek quality treatment at an accredited recovery facility. By contacting an addiction specialist and going through the levels of treatment that are right for you or your loved one, you can ensure the best chance at achieving lasting recovery.
Meth can be powerfully addictive both chemically and psychologically; it’s important to start treatment with safe medical detox. Quitting cold turkey, or abruptly, on your own may cause you to risk relapsing. Though other drugs pose a greater physical danger during withdrawal, like benzodiazepines and alcohol, the psychological effects of meth withdrawal can be profound. Medical detox means medical professionals can ease both your physical and mental symptoms.
Studies show that the most effective treatment for addiction involves living at the facility through residential treatment. There, you will have a safe, comfortable, and drug-free environment to tackle the root of your addiction. You will have daily access to group and individual behavioral therapy, and you may even be able to participate in holistic treatments. Residential treatment usually lasts between 30 days and 90 days. However, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan, and your combination of behavioral therapy types should be customized to fit your specific needs. The best treatment centers will be results-oriented, seeking to maximize your comfort while helping you achieve long-lasting sobriety.
Finally, recovery doesn’t end when you’ve completed residential treatment. Studies show that addiction relapse rates can be similar to other chronic diseases like asthma and type one diabetes. Meth addiction relapse rates may be even higher. To protect your sobriety, it’s important to pursue recovery continually. This is why outpatient treatment is so effective. It’s perfect for those that have completed residential but also for those that cannot put their lives on hold to live at a facility. Also, alumni programs and 12-step programs can help keep you connect to a larger community that shares your goals.
Methamphetamine is among the most dangerous drugs because of the wide range of adverse effects it has on the body and brain. It’s neurotoxic with chronic use, which means it damages the brain in long-lasting or permanent ways. Addiction is a chronic disease that primarily affects the brain, regardless of the drug, but meth can cause serious cognitive impairments that last for years. Long-term abusers can experience anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and even violent behavior. Those who develop psychosis can show symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.
Meth addiction also has profound effects on the user’s reward and pleasure centers. While many drugs rewrite the reward center to crave it like your brain craves a basic need, meth may prevent abusers from experiencing other types of pleasure. Since meth becomes the exclusive source of pleasure, people are further entrenched in addiction. When dopamine levels plummet after meth sessions, withdrawal symptoms often include depression, anxiety, and other emotional disorders.
Meth addiction can also cause several physical symptoms throughout the body. The appetite suppressing effect can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. It also contributes to extreme gum disease and tooth decay.
During an overdose, meth users can experience life-threatening symptoms including adrenergic storm, which can cause extreme hypertension and tachycardia, leading to heart failure. They may also die from brain hemorrhaging, kidney failure, and rapid muscle breakdown.
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