Table of Contents
- What is Meth
- What Meth does
- Meth Addiction
- Dangers of Meth Addiction
- Symptoms of Meth Addiction
- Meth Withdrawal
- Meth Addiction Treatment at Avenues Recovery of New England (RAW)
In 2019, health care providers in Boston warned that methamphetamine use was presenting a new emerging threat across New England. This was due to the steady increase in the number of people getting addicted to meth across the region. Fast forward a couple of years later, and nothing has changed; if anything, it got worse.
Now, we have lost more than 600,000 people in the US alone to one killer of a virus. But there’s another killer, one that is far more difficult to challenge head-on, moving in the shadows, in the creeks of the streets, between walkways, under cover of darkness, one that answers to the name – meth.
Today, we will walk you through methamphetamine, its use and effects, and addiction. Eradicating this nuisance starts with proper education.
What is Meth?
What Meth is called on the street?
Meth, which is just the short form of methamphetamine, is a highly addictive and psychoactive drug with similar effects to amphetamine. Aside from meth, methamphetamine is commonly referred to as glass, crank, chalk, shards, and ice on the street.
Meth is a central nervous system stimulant that can give the user a rush of energy and pleasure. It does this by raising the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
How does it work?
Dopamine, particularly, is widely known as the “feel-good” hormone. This is because it is one of the key neurotransmitters in generating and maintaining happy and positive feelings in the body. While the specific way meth acts isn’t all that clear, it is widely believed in the science world that it dysregulates the transmission and reuptake of dopamine.
The implication of this is dopamine spends longer in the synapse, and its effects in the body are, thereby, prolonged. Studies have even shown that it can also stimulate the release of dopamine. All of these are testaments of how effective a psychostimulant dopamine really is.
As you would expect, this drug is illegal in the United States and virtually everywhere else in the world, but that has not stopped its illicit use across New England and the country in general.
How does it look?
Meth usually appears as a white crystalline powder, but it can also be blue, depending on the manufacturer. Did we mention that meth has to be manufactured, as it does not appear naturally?
Meth is a Schedule II stimulant, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration. This means it is only available legally through a non-refillable prescription.
What Meth Does
There are several reasons the illegal use of meth is heavily discouraged, some of which you will find out later in this article. However, meth does have some medical use. People with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a type of mental condition, can be placed on methamphetamine. Meth can also function as a short-term component of weight-loss treatment. It is worth noting, though, that the medical doses of meth are usually lower than is used illegally.
Below are some of the effects of meth when taken recreationally:
- Increased activity
- Reduced appetite
- A rush of energy and pleasure
- Increased breathing
- Raised blood pressure
- Increased attentiveness
Addiction is essentially the uncontrolled use of a substance and the inability to stop engaging in a certain practice despite harmful physical and mental consequences. So, from this definition, it is easy to infer what meth addiction is.
Meth has a very high potential for addiction, one of the highest of all psychoactive substances. Tolerance can develop very rapidly, which means the abuser will need a higher dose to elicit the same effect, and before long, the user will be borderline overdosing on meth. It’s all a vicious cycle that typically starts after the very first use of meth.
Why Is Meth So Addictive?
Meth is a very addictive psychostimulant. This is because of its ability to influence the release and reuptake of dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Dopamine, hence, remains in the synapses for far longer than it should. This ultimately results in euphoria and intense pleasure for the user.
Its euphoric effects are stronger than cocaine, which correlates to a very strong desire to keep using the drug.
Dangers of Meth Addiction
Perhaps the most significant danger of meth addiction is the tolerance the body develops for meth after continued use. The body also produces its own dopamine and will therefore try to counter the increased dopamine levels in the brain.
One way it does this is by downregulating the production of dopamine. This means users have to depend more on the action of meth to meet their dopamine needs, and with time, the user will need more and more doses of meth to keep up.
The thing about tolerance is it keeps getting worse, and before long, the meth user will have to take toxic doses to satisfy their dopamine needs. The exact problems all of these lead to include:
- Cardiovascular issues, such as stroke, heart attacks, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, and more.
- Severe weight loss typically sets in after a while. This may be due to the reduced appetite dopamine causes.
- Strained relationships with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Addicts often end up getting fired from their places of work, which means less financial support.
- Parkinson’s disease. It only makes sense that a drug that influences the nervous system can cause nervous system disorders, like Parkinson’s, characterized by movement problems.
- Meth mouth, which is one of the distinguishing features of meth users. Meth mouth involves severe dental issues like tooth decay, tooth fracture, tooth loss, teeth clenching and grinding, dry mouth, acid erosion, and bad breath.
Symptoms of Meth Addiction
It is always tricky knowing which kind of drug an individual is addicted to, particularly if they all fall under the same family. But below are symptoms to look out for in meth addicts.
- Meth mouth – bad breath, decaying teeth, tooth loss, teeth clenching and grinding
- Sudden and severe weight loss
- Low self-confidence
- Rapid skin aging
- Memory problems
- Movement problems
- Constant itching
- Hallucinations and paranoia
- Breathing disorders
Remember, one cannot make any definitive claims from just one or two of these symptoms. In addition, many of these symptoms are present in addiction to any psychoactive substance, not necessarily meth. So, one should still move close to the user to confirm that the drug abused is, in fact, meth.
Perhaps the worst advice you can give a meth addict is, “just stop.” They can’t “just stop,” especially if the use of meth has been for a long time. And if you try to take them off it forcefully, you are actually doing more harm than good. This is because of what is known as withdrawal syndrome.
We established already that the body becomes dependent on meth for its dopamine needs upon continued use. Therefore, the sudden withdrawal will mess with the nervous system. Withdrawal syndrome can occur as soon as 24 hours after the last meth dose.
Some of the symptoms observed include:
- Sleep disorders
- General weakness
- decreased movement and concentration
Depending on the level of dependence, a withdrawal syndrome may actually be fatal to the addict. This isn’t to say the addict will be on meth for the rest of their life. Professionals will combat addiction by gradually tapering the dose the user takes. This way, there is no sudden stoppage in drug use and withdrawal syndrome can be avoided.
Treatment of Meth Addiction at Avenues Recovery at New England (RAW)
The bad news is there is no available medication that can treat meth addiction right now. The good news is that a rehab center, like Avenues Recovery in New England, can help the addict avoid the consequences of meth addiction.
If your loved one or relative is a meth addict, don’t forcefully get them off the drug. You will only harm them more.
Reac out to our highly skilled team of addiction professionals. At Avenues you will find a warm community setting, a beautiful modern facility, and a personalized treatment plan made just for you.
All through therapy, we ensure the meth addict is not isolated or feels ostracized. We support and love them all the way through. The rehab process takes time, and positive reinforcement and patience is the way to make change stick.
Meth addiction is definitely a menace in the New England region and the rest of the country, too. One would expect a drug as addictive as meth and with so many negative effects to be hard to get, but far from it. Producing crystal meth is relatively simple, and it can also be found all around us. Therefore, we need to educate the public on the dangers and consequences of meth use. The best treatment of addiction is not to start at all.