Methamphetamine is a powerful and addictive stimulant. It is a man-made drug that speeds up the body’s nervous system. People who use meth may feel a false sense of happiness and well-being, increased energy, and decreased appetite. The drug goes by many names, including:
It can be a white, yellowish-white, or pale blue powder. It can also be a pill, tablet, or clear or cloudy chunky crystals. One form of meth, called crystal meth, is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny blue-white rocks.
People who take methamphetamines generally smoke, swallow, snort, or inject a powdered form of the drug that has been dissolved in water or alcohol. Due to how the high from this drug fades rapidly, users will often follow a dangerous binge-crash-and-repeat pattern. The use of this drug can even cause a person to prioritize it over food, water, and sleep. This is a part of why treatment for meth addiction is so important.
Methamphetamine, similar to other amphetamines, is highly addictive. In fact, Methamphetamines are more addictive than other amphetamines and produce effects that users consider high desirable, such as:
- Induced feelings of a sense of well-being and pleasure
- Enhanced talkativeness and sociability
- Decreased appetite
- Increased activity
Methamphetamines are considered to be more addictive than amphetamines. When a person takes meth, their dopamine levels increase. This is what produces the meth high. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure center.
A meth user will experience an intense rush of euphoria followed by a prolonged sense of well-being. However, these effects are short-lived, typically lasting only 3-5 minutes. As the meth high begins to fade, the user will experience an intense crash. This is when meth withdrawal symptoms set in and the user begins to feel agitated, anxious, and paranoid, causing them to take more of the drug to feel relief.
Methamphetamine addiction comes with many different symptoms. If you are concerned that someone close to you is abusing meth, the following signs and symptoms can help confirm your suspicions:
- Decreased appetite
- Increased wakefulness and obsessive activity
- Psychosis/psychotic episodes
- Euphoria, depression, or anxiety
- Increased sensitivity to noise
- Nervous activity, like scratching or picking at the skin
- Irritability, dizziness, or confusion
- Tremors, twitching, or convulsions
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and risk of stroke
- Mood swings, including aggression and violent behavior
- Dilated pupils and rapid eye movement
If you or someone you love is displaying any of the above signs and symptoms, meth addiction may be to blame.
The Effects of Meth Addiction on the Brain and Body
The effects of meth on the human brain and body are far-reaching. In the short term, meth can cause increased alertness, decreased appetite, and euphoria. However, meth also decreases the user’s ability to think clearly, remember correctly, and make decisions. In fact, meth users often become so addicted to the drug that they forgo food and sleep for days or even weeks at a time in order to keep meth’s effects going.
As there are different forms of anxiety, there are also a number of different signs and symptoms associated with the different forms. Most of the symptoms have the commonality of being unusual and of being unique specifically to the person with the anxiety. This is why when someone is having an anxiety attack, others have a difficult time trying to understand what they are going through.
Effects of Meth on the Brain
As previously mentioned, methamphetamines increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. This neurotransmitter is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward, which is why meth users feel euphoric when they use the drug. However, meth also affects other neurotransmitters, including serotonin and norepinephrine.
These two transmitters are responsible for regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. That’s why meth users often experience drastic mood swings, insomnia, and decreased appetite.
Concerningly, long-term meth use can cause serious damage to the brain, including memory loss, mood swings, and psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations. Meth also damages the heart, liver, and kidneys. In some cases, meth use can lead to death.
Effects of Meth on the Body
The effects of meth go beyond the brain to affect different parts of the body as well. In long-term meth users, damage to the heart and other organs had been observed. The effects of meth on the body include:
- Heart damage: Methamphetamine use can cause an irregular heartbeat, which in turn can lead to an increased risk of a heart attack. Further, heart disease is the second leading cause of death for users of meth.
- Liver damage: Methamphetamine can damage the liver, especially when used in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
- Kidney damage: Due to the body’s difficulty in breaking down toxins in meth, methamphetamine use can lead to kidney damage and failure.
- Impaired immune defense: Meth use damages the body’s immune system, making it more difficult to fight off infection and disease.
- Lung damage: Methamphetamine use can lead to difficulty breathing, lung infections, and collapsed lungs.
- Tooth decay: Meth use leads to a condition called “meth mouth,” due to how it accelerates tooth decay. Symptoms of this gum disease include trouble eating, jaw pain, headaches, and a clenched jaw.
To avoid long-term damage, it is important to seek meth drug rehab as soon as possible. Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to manage on your own, and an addiction treatment program will give you the necessary tools to detox and recover from meth use.
Meth Withdrawal and Overdose
Withdrawal symptoms from meth can include fatigue, depression, anxiety, and intense cravings. These symptoms can make it difficult to stop using meth without professional help. Overdose from meth is also a serious concern. Symptoms of meth overdose include stroke, heart attack, seizure, and death.
Fortunately, detox services help individuals stop using meth safely. Here at Achieve Wellness and Recovery, we can refer you to a detox program that will help you remove meth from your body. After detox, you can start one of our comprehensive addiction treatment programs.
At Achieve Wellness, we treat the whole person and not just the addiction. We understand that addiction is a disease and we are here to help you on your journey to recovery. This is accomplished with a host of evidence-based therapies such as group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy.
If you or someone you love is struggling with meth addiction, we can help. Contact us today to get started on the road to recovery.