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There are some drugs that gain public notoriety from pop culture instead of news about its harmful effects. Plots in movies, TV shows, and books occasionally revolve around a particular drug, and that is where the public learns about it. While this sometimes romanticizes the drug in question, it also helps improve the public’s knowledge. One such drug that has spent several years in the public eye thanks to pop culture is meth, and it’s not always what it seems like on TV.
What is Meth?
Meth, or methamphetamine, is a central nervous system stimulant. This means that it directly affects the user’s nervous system chemically. The meth that is produced for illicit means is slightly different from the version used for medical purposes, but both have a high potential for addiction and abuse. Desoxyn is the only FDA-approved version of methamphetamine currently on the market, and it is only available via a one-time prescription with limited usages in treating ADHD and obesity.
Illicit meth is often produced in the U.S. in clandestine labs throughout the country, with some batches coming from outside the country via smuggling. Domestic meth is often manufactured in a small quantity, and its contents can vary based on the maker. This can actually help law enforcement track meth batches by analyzing the ingredients and matching them to know labs. Many of the ingredients used in meth production are available commercially with little restriction, although many retailers track certain products used in production and impose purchase requirements.
Normally, meth is in a powdered form that is whitish in color and bitter tasting. The powder can be put into a pill form in some cases, in addition to a crystalized rock form called crystal meth. Crystal meth often looks like small pieces of glass or opaque rocks that can be white or light blue. Regardless of form, the drug has been known to be referred to as crank, speed, ice, and chalk.
Effects of Use
Meth can be used in a variety of ways. It can be injected intravenously, snorted, smoked, or orally swallowed. The onset of meth’s effects on the user depends on factors such as the quantity and the method used. A high is standard regardless of method, but it lasts longer when the drug is swallowed or snorted. Injection and smoking tend to produce a short, but intense rush. The drug releases high levels of dopamine in the brain that produce the euphoria of the high, which is still rather strong per the nature of the drug. When they are high, the person may be extremely energetic or wakeful, have high heart and respiratory rates, be very warm or overheat (hyperthermia), and have little to no appetite. Meth users, when high, are also very physically active due to the burst of energy the drug gives them.
That high can be followed by a very sharp crash, even in instances of binging. This usually comes with feelings of anxiety, paranoia, confusion, and violent mood swings. Aggression is very common with users of meth, and they may lash out at others when they crash. The wakefulness of the high may continue for a little while when the person crashes, but they may experience fatigue and sleepiness. It is not unusual for a meth user to sleep for long stretches of time when they crash. They may also have psychotic episodes with hallucinations—both auditory and visual—and delusions. In some cases, a meth user may experience the sensation of something crawling on or under their skin, causing them to pick and scratch themselves until they bleed.
If you or a loved one is facing the grip of a meth addiction, get in touch today and let’s see if we can help with recovery.
With meth, users may do a “run,” a type of binge where the person takes the drug every couple of hours for a stretch of several days. During this time, they do not eat or sleep, and that can lead to significant physical and psychological damage that can last long-term. The short-term symptoms listed above can persist for some time and worsen their effect on the body. Many meth users have sleep problems and altered sleeping patterns well after they’ve stopped using. Psychological effects like paranoia and hallucinations may persist as well for some time after stopping usage.
Intense weight loss and malnourishment—often to dangerous levels—is fairly common with meth usage. A person will often need to return to a healthy weight gradually, but there may still be complications in place from the weight loss such as organ damage. There is also a unique effect associated with meth usage, dubbed meth mouth. This is characterized by severe dental damage and oral health issues. Some users who develop meth mouth lose teeth and oral tissues in their mouth, and may have abscess-like sores inside their mouth. This can also lead to infections that start in the mouth but spread throughout the body.
Methamphetamine usage tends to alter the brain’s chemistry, often posing some difficulty later on in life. Dopamine is naturally occurring in the brain, and the person may become resistant to what their brain produces. This can impede things such as verbal learning and coordination. Elements of the brain that control emotions and memory making may also be altered to varying degrees based on usage.
Toxic amounts of meth in a person’s body can cause an overdose. In most cases, this can lead to heart attacks, overheating, organ damage and failure, seizures, and strokes in addition to amplifying the above symptoms. In severe cases, death and coma are possible.
If you are having a hard time imagining life without meth, call Lionheart Recovery today. We can change that.
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