There are a number of clear signs of meth use that you should be aware of. Methamphetamine, referred to commonly as meth, is a potent stimulant that has significant impacts on the CNS. Meth is also referred to as ice, blue and crystal, and a host of other names. It is white, odorless and bitter tasting. Meth dissolves easily in water or alcohol.
Methamphetamine was developed from amphetamine, its parent drug, early in the 20th century. At the time, it was primarily used in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. Like its parent drug, meth's stimulant properties spike activity, talkativeness, euphoria, and a decreased appetite.
However, meth is different from amphetamine, its parent drug, in that when similar amounts of both are taken, significantly more substantial amounts of meth reach the brain. This results in meth being much more potent as a stimulant and having a more significant effect on the CNS. This property makes it a drug that has a high potential for abuse.
The DEA has classified meth as a Schedule II stimulant. This makes it available legally only via a non-refillable prescription. Meth has been proven to be effective in treating ADHD as well as weight loss. However, medical doctors will very rarely give methamphetamine prescriptions. When they do provide prescriptions of the drug, they do it at doses so low that it is impossible to misuse or abuse it.
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The misuse and abuse of meth - which is very potent and highly addictive - remains a significant problem in the US. In some areas of the United States, meth is a bigger problem than opioids. In these regions, meth is the biggest driver of violent crime.
Going by data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), at least 14.7 million persons - which is 5.4% of the US population - have dabbled in meth at least once. The NSDUH reports that nearly 1.6 million persons did meth in the year leading up to this particular survey. Methamphetamine is not only widely abused in the US - it remains one of the most misused and abused drugs in many parts of the world.
Perhaps even more worrying, is that the average age of meth users in the states keeps dropping. In the last NSDUH survey, the average age of meth users stood at 23.3 years old. Over 964,000 persons aged 12 and over had a meth disorder in the year 2017 - this is to say that they suffered some impairment or other owing to meth abuse. They suffered health problems, failure to meet obligations, poor health, and the like. In 2016, the number stood at 684,000 people. This presented quite a considerable leap in figures.
Meth has a great many consequences. Just about all of them are horrible for the user. Meth affects all aspects of your life. There will be medical effects, psychological effects, and social effects. Using and abusing the drug may lead to cardiac problems, unwarranted aggression, extensive damage to the CNS, bouts of psychotic behavior, terrible dental problems, and malnutrition. Use and abuse of meth have also been shown to hike up the contraction rates of intravenously transmitted diseases, such as Hep C and HIV/AIDS.
Beyond affecting people on a personal level, meth hits the community as a whole. It brings about waves of crime - which is violent a lot of the time - unemployment, unproductivity, child neglect and abuse, and multiple other social ills. The RAND corporation drew up a report in 2009 that showed that the US government loses approximately 23.4 billion US dollars due to meth use and abuse on an annual basis.
However, the good news is that meth use, addiction, and abuse do not have to be perpetual blights. It is possible to get off meth. It is possible to rehab effectively using multiple available therapies. Research also continues in the fight against meth use and abuse - medical practitioners are working on medications, vaccines, noninvasive stimulation techniques, Etc.
As long as you take rehab seriously and make an effort to leave the old life behind, it is possible to walk away from meth. However, dual diagnosis may be necessary, especially if you have developed mental issues due to the use and abuse of meth.
Meth comes in multiple forms. Meth can be orally ingested, smoked, snorted, and injected. The preferred method of meth administration will vary from one geographical location to the next.
Smoking and injecting meth puts it into the bloodstream very quickly. This is what causes the intense rush that immediately follows the administration of the drug. Smokers and injectors of meth will often have amplified addictions, as well as several adverse health conditions. This rush, also called a flash, will only last a few minutes and has been described as intensely pleasurable.
Taking meth through oral ingestion or snorting will not lead to a rush, but it will lead to an euphoric feeling. You will typically feel the various effects of the drug after snorting in 3 to 5 minutes. With oral ingestion, consequences will start to register 15 to 20 minutes after. These are some of the signs of meth use.
Meth, like many other stimulants, is abused in a "binge and crash" format. Since meth dissipates effects even before its concentration levels in the blood dip considerably, meth users will take more and more on the drug to sustain the high. In extreme cases, users will perform "runs', where they forego everything else, including food and sleep, and only take the drug for days straight.
In contrast to another popular stimulant, cocaine, meth stays in the body longer and has a more prolonged action duration. A large percentage of it also stays unchanged in the body. The result is meth staying in the brain longer, leading to more significant stimulant effects.
Like cocaine, meth stimulates dopamine release in the brain. In animal studies, meth was shown to lead to significantly higher dopamine levels, as the nerve cells react differently. Cocaine will work by prolonging dopamine action in the brain by blocking reuptake. Meth, on the other hand, will block reuptake but, at the same time, will trigger the release of more dopamine. The result is much higher levels of dopamine concentration. This can be toxic to nerve terminals.
Long term meth abuse has multiple adverse effects. Addiction is just one of them. Addiction has been variously described as the chronic and relapsing ailment that is typically marked by compulsive drug seeking and use. It is usually accompanied by molecular and functional changes in the brain.
As with many drugs, the pleasurable, euphoric effects of meth use will lead to abuse. Users will take more and more of the drug to get high due to the body developing tolerance to it. They may also change their ways of drug administration. For instance, an abuser may cease to snort the drug and instead start to smoke it so he or she can get high faster and at a higher intensity.
Meth users and abusers may find it impossible to get pleasure from anything else apart from their drugs. Withdrawal symptoms come up as a result of the cessation of meth use. Symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, fatigue, depression, and a severe craving for the drug.
In addition to being hooked on the drug, meth users may exhibit long-term symptoms, including confusion, anxiety, mood disturbances, insomnia, and even violent behavior. They may also display psychotic features, with the inclusion of hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. Many meth users have had sensations of insects crawling under their skin to expound on that last one.
Psychotic symptoms may be around for months - even years - after the former meth user has ceased all intake of the drug. Stressful situations may also trigger a recurrence of meth psychosis in meth users who may have experienced psychosis in the past.
Meth use and abuse have been shown to blunt learning capacity. Meth users have been shown to have a harder time grasping concepts. They also find that it is increasingly becoming more difficult to express themselves verbally. Memory problems also arise from meth use and abuse as well as emotional impairment.
As a potent stimulant, meth, even when taken in small-sized doses, may increase wakefulness. It may spike physical activity and severely blunt your appetite. Meth may also lead to several cardiovascular issues, including a rapid heart rate, an irregular heartbeat, and elevated blood pressure.
In the case of a methamphetamine overdose, hyperthermia, which is elevated body temperature, may occur. Convulsions may also be in place. If prompt action is not taken, meth overdoses often lead to death.
Meth triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. By and by, your body comes to expect high levels of dopamine concentrations in the brain as part of normal functioning. When you go without meth for some time, withdrawal symptoms will kick in, as your body tries to cope with the new dopamine-free environment in the brain.
Some signs of meth use and addiction include but are not limited to:
The following recovery options are some of the modalities that may help you overcome your addiction if you have been displaying several of the typical signs of meth use and dependence:
Behavioral therapies are the most effective treatments when it comes to meth addiction. These include cognitive-behavioral as well as contingency management interventions. An example is the matric model. This is a sixteen-week comprehensive behavioral treatment approach. It combines behavioral therapy, individual counseling, family education, drug testing, 12-step support, and the encouragement of activities that are non-drug related. This model is very effective in treating meth misuse. In many facilities, the matrix model is a staple.
Contingency management interventions effectively provide tangible incentives in exchange for engagement in treatment and maintenance of abstinence. Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR), an incentives-based method for the promotion of cocaine and meth abstinence has demonstrated efficacy among meth users and abusers, via NIDA's National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network.
Although some medications have been effective in treating multiple substance abuse disorders, the medications landscape with regard to meth addiction treatment is pretty spare. No medications have been proved to work in counteracting the specific withdrawal effects of meth. Further, none prolong abstinence from meth or help cut the use and misuse of the drug.
Due to the lack of medications that stave off meth addiction and cravings, professionals have been forced to become more creative. They have leaned on non-pharmacological treatments that do not involve the use of medications.
These therapies are effective in instilling behavioral changes by changing up one's brain activity patterns (TMS). This helps people learn how to monitor and have control over their brain activity, which in turn, curbs addiction symptoms (neurofeedback). Further research is required as far as these approaches go, but they provide another layer of fabric for medical professionals to delve into.
Examples of these include:
i) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Also known as TMS, this is a noninvasive method that stimulates the brain via magnetic pulses for purposes of therapy. Researchers are yet to figure this option but, thus far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
ii) Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback, which is also commonly referred to as neurobiofeedback, uses real-time displays of the brain's activity. It mostly uses electroencephalography to teach former users how to keep a hold of and regulate their brain function. Neurofeedback involves the application of biofeedback in real-time displays of brain activity—most commonly electroencephalography. It can teach people how to control their brain function. This one is instrumental in cutting down on cravings and improving the overall quality of life.
iii) Vaccines and Antibodies: Methamphetamine vaccines recruit your body's immune system, keeping the drug from reaching your brain. Vaccines are still being worked on, and tests are still being run on animals. A human clinical trial is also currently running in a bid to test an immunologic agent known as a "monoclonal antibody." This binds to methamphetamine and completely neutralizes it before it can exert effects onto the brain and body. It can help deal with most of the signs of meth use and lead to recovery.