Methamphetamine, a stimulant drug with some limited therapeutic use, has now become a highly addictive street drug. While it has been used to treat ADHD, most meth is illegally produced in small labs and sold on the street as a recreational drug. Alarmingly addictive with devastating consequences on the mind and body, meth is an easy drug to find on the street.
Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug that is manufactured illegally using commonly available materials. The process is highly unsafe, but it is relatively easy for some to acquire and requires little in the way of raw materials or equipment. The resulting crystal methamphetamine is highly dangerous and has a high potential for addiction and dependence.
There are a variety of delivery methods that people use to consume methamphetamine.
Oral ingestion produces a high after 15 to 20 minutes. When meth is snorted, the effects are felt in just 3 to 5 minutes. Smoking meth produces a quicker, more intense “rush.”
Injecting meth brings the effects even faster, sometimes generating a high even before the needle has left the arm. However, just as the effects come into the body quickly, they also depart in a short time span. The effects last only a few minutes, leading to repetitive use, over and over. This behavior is so common, the phrase “binging and crashing” is often used to describe it. The binging occurs with repetitive injection, while the crashing happens when the effects of the drug are no longer felt.
Once in the body, the effects of the drug are overwhelming. The brain is flooded with an unnaturally high potency of stimulating chemicals. The dopamine receptors, normally tasked with delivering pleasure in response to the normal joys of life, are awash with an incredibly powerful stimulant. Increased dopamine rapidly produces a rush of euphoria. The rapid firing of neurons then produces the immediate and intense results, which people using meth seek out over and over.
As people inject meth repeatedly, “track lines,” which are darkened veins along injection paths, puncture marks, and rashes, or “speed bumps,” form on the body and serve as tell-tale signs of abuse and addiction. Repeated injection often leads to collapsed, decaying veins. Abscesses are common to those who inject meth which, if left unattended, can lead to loss of limb. Puncturing the skin opens the way for skin infections and provides a conduit for bacteria and viruses like hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV. Sharing needles make these diseases more likely.
In addition to the consequences of injecting meth, the drug itself causes anxiety, confusion, violent behavior, “meth mouth,” persistent itching, paranoia, hallucinations, stroke, heart attack, organ damage, bleeding in the brain, impaired ability to learn and death.
The chance of overdosing while injecting is greater than that of other use methods. The large amounts of meth that are injected can lead to death. Even if the overdose is not lethal, the resulting hallucinations and paranoia can linger for years. Repeated seizures and strokes, which occur during or after an overdose, can cause permanent damage to the brain, heart and kidneys.
Ice, or crystal meth, is the purest and most potent version of methamphetamine, usually in the form of crystalline rocks. Rather than being snorted, crystal meth is commonly smoked and gives an amplified version of euphoria to users. This version can also be injected, as the “ice” turns to liquid once heated.
Because it is more pure than regular meth, ice is more addictive and creates an extended high that users can feel up to 24 hours after use. It is typically manufactured in chemical “super labs” that can preserve its potency with little to no additives.
Using methamphetamine in any form can result in a number of harmful side effects and health risks. Some of the most common symptoms of meth abuse include:
- Dilated pupils
- Teeth grinding
- Meth sores
- Meth mouth
- Kidney failure
- Bacterial infections
Methamphetamine addiction does not have to be a journey taken alone. With help from resources like The Recovery Village, you will be one step closer to a healthier life and a successful recovery. Let our team of trained medical professionals guide you to the best treatment program to address your needs. In time and with support, you too can gain the skills necessary to help overcome your addiction.
If you or a loved one live with methamphetamine addiction or are using cocaine recreationally and want to stop, it’s time to seek professional help. The Recovery Village® provides care to those struggling with methamphetamine. Reach out to one of our knowledgeable representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.