Methamphetamine is possibly one of the most physically addictive and mentally damaging substances available on the streets today. Classified as a stimulant, studies show that it causes a chemical reaction in the brain that tricks the body into thinking that it has an unlimited supply of energy, which then drains the actual energy reserves needed for all other parts of the body.
Addicts of crystal meth have been found to stay awake for extremely long periods of time, usually until the body shuts down from extreme exhaustion. Crystal meth also drastically increases the amount of dopamine produced by the brain, which is the neurotransmitter primarily responsible for addiction. So much so that when drug users cease using the substance, the brain is incapable of functioning normally for a period of days, weeks, months, or in extreme cases years.
Methamphetamine makes people feel alert and energetic, confident and talkative. They feel little need for food or sleep. On the other hand, users are also likely to feel the many unwanted effects of the drug, including racing of the heart, chest pain, dryness of the mouth, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and physical tension. Many report an anxious “wired” feeling of restlessness and irritability. The negative effects of methamphetamine can be extreme and alarming, including paranoid delusions, hallucinations, aggressive behaviour and impulsive violence.
Tolerance to the effects of methamphetamine builds up quickly in regular users, meaning they need more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effect. When addicted users stop taking methamphetamine, they have strong cravings for the drug, and within a few days will experience withdrawal symptoms, including stomach pain, hunger, headaches, shortness of breath, tiredness and depression.
Methamphetamine causes the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise. Since what is sold as methamphetamine varies widely in terms of content and purity, users can’t know how much they are taking. An overdose of methamphetamine can result in seizures, high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke and death. The risk of overdose is highest when the drug is injected.
When methamphetamine is used regularly over a long period of time, people can develop amphetamine psychosis. The symptoms of amphetamine psychosis include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and bizarre and violent behaviour.
Regular use of methamphetamine can also result in severe tooth decay (meth mouth), meth “bugs,” or the feeling of bugs under the skin, leading to skin-picking and sores. Also, users experience a loss of appetite and weight loss, along with difficulty sleeping and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Research in animals and humans suggests that methamphetamine may cause long-term damage to cells in those areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory and movement. Further research is needed to determine if these effects are permanent.
If this sounds familiar to you and your behaviours, or those of a loved one you are concerned about, and you would like to make some changes in your use of methamphetamines, take a look at the information contained in our website and the external resources for methamphetamine addiction that we offer here at The Liberation Place. If it's time to make a change and reach out for the support, recovery is a journey that starts with just one step, and only you alone can choose to take that step but remember you are not destined to be alone when you choose to take that step with The Liberation Place.