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As illegal synthetic drugs, methamphetamine and amphetamines are powerful addictive stimulants that dramatically affect the central nervous system similarly to the way adrenaline does.

Methamphetamine and AmphetaminesMethamphetamine and amphetamines can be snorted, smoked, taken orally, or injected, depending on the form being used.  The drug alters moods in different ways, depending on how it is taken. Methamphetamine is commonly known as “speed“, “meth” and “chalk“. In its smoked form, it is often referred to as “ice“, “crystal meth“, “crank” and “glass“. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.

Methamphetamine’s chemical structure is similar to that of amphetamines, but it has more pronounced effects on the central nervous system. Like amphetamine, it causes increased activity, decreased appetite and a general sense of well being. The effects ofMeth methamphetamine can last 6 to 8 hours. After the initial “rush“, there is typically a state of high agitation that, in some individuals, can lead to violent behavior. There are also drug craving and withdrawal symptoms typical of drug abuse of methamphetamine.

When smoked or injected, methamphetamine and amphetamines produce an immediate intense rush or “flash” that only lasts a few minutes.  When snorted or taken orally, there is no intense rush, but the user does experience a euphoric state within a short time, usually less than 20 minutes.  Addiction to this drug is inevitable because the desired effects wear off before the drug is metabolized by the body.  Users often binge on the drug to keep the effects going.  Continued binging results in higher tolerance and the danger of overdose is increased.

Meth Side Effects

What are the immediate (short-term) meth side effects of methamphetamine abuse?

Even small doses of methamphetamine can increase physical activity and wakefulness while decreasing appetite.  When taken orally it produces a longer lasting high that can continue for as much as half a day.  This could explain the drastic weight loss addicts display.  Regardless of the method of ingestion, methamphetamine works by releasing high levels of dopamine into the area of the brain that regulates sensations of pleasure.  Repeated use causes the brain to cease producing dopamine naturally, resulting in the addict being unable to experience pleasure without the drug present in his or her system.  As tolerance increases, higher doses are needed and this can result in elevated body temperature and convulsions.

What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse?

Methamphetamine and AmphetaminesAddiction to methamphetamine is characterized by compulsive use and molecular changes in the brain.  Some of the signs of addiction to this drug include anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and violent behavior.  More pronounced psychotic symptoms displayed can include paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, mood disturbances, rages, and suicidal thoughts.  These mood changes have often resulted in physical harm being done to the addict or to someone else, even to the extent of committing homicide.

When users attempt to intensify the desired effects of methamphetamine, they take dangerously high doses or take it more frequently or change the method of ingestion.  During this time he or she might inject as much as a gram of the drug every 2 or 3 hours for several days. They will go without food or sleep during this “run” until they run out of the drug or can no longer function well enough to continue taking the doses.

Withdrawal from methamphetamine can be a challenge due to uncomfortable symptoms that manifest, especially for chronic users.  These symptoms can include fatigue, depression, anxiety, paranoia, aggression, and intense cravings.  It most cases, it is recommended that the individual seek a professional addiction treatment program to ensure a safe and effective withdrawal.

It has yet to be determined whether the damages in the brain resulting from chronic methamphetamine use is reversible.  Studies show that as much as 50% of the dopamine producing cells can be damaged after prolonged exposure to the drug.  Research also shows that nerve cells responsible for producing serotonin may be extensively damaged.  These damages could be responsible for the psychosis seen in some methamphetamine users.

Methamphetamine and Amphetamines Withdrawal and Addiction

Methamphetamine users experience an exhilarating high, but when it wears off, they experience a crash that includes depression and other meth withdrawal symptoms.  In order to avoid these symptoms, more of the drug is needed, and the cycle goes on and on until professional treatment is obtained.  The best solution is an inpatient treatment facility where the individual is secure in a controlled, caring environment away from the temptations and environment that feeds the addiction.  In this setting, clients undergo a carefully designed program that seeks to restore physical health, heal damaged emotions, and teach the individual more effective methods for dealing with life without the need for addictive drugs.

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