Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. While methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor to treat certain medical conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, depression and obesity, this drug is rarely prescribed due to its high risk of addiction, serious side effects, and safer, more effective alternatives.
If you or a loved one uses methamphetamine and would like to quit, it is best to get help from a care provider with experience in methamphetamine addiction, withdrawal and recovery. Withdrawing from meth can be difficult and may lead to potential overdose if the drug is taken after a period of being clean. Although it is difficult, it is possible to stop using methamphetamine and to move forward to a life of possibilities free from the use of harmful drugs.
Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Addiction
According to the Coalition Against Drug Abuse, the signs and symptoms of methamphetamine addiction may include:
- Picking at the skin, itchy skin
- Sores and wounds on the skin
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Mood swings, sometimes violent
- Increased energy with reduced need to sleep, followed by excessive sleepiness
- Dilated pupils, eye twitches
- Repetitive behaviors
- Lack of hygiene and care for appearance
- Meth mouth, rotted teeth
How Methamphetamine Is Taken
Most forms of meth are found illegally and are synthetic, meaning man made. Meth is typically found as a white, crystalline powder that may be snorted, smoked or injected. The effects can last anywhere from 6 to 24 hours before more is needed.
Effects of Methamphetamine Use and Abuse
Methamphetamine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, improving mood, increasing energy and suppressing appetite. When first taken, users experience an extreme rush and feeling of euphoria due to an increase in dopamine production. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good during pleasurable activities, such as while eating or during sex. Taking meth makes the body produce about 12 times more dopamine than normal pleasurable activities, according to a PBS/Frontline special report, making meth extremely addictive. Users feel an increase in energy, focus and self-confidence, mostly with the first use. Those who continue to abuse meth often do so to try to get that first feeling again, which never happens.
Dangers of Methamphetamine Use
With continued use, the body drops its natural production of dopamine, causing the meth user to be unable to feel any type of pleasure without taking the drug. Meth users appear to age more rapidly, with sunken cheek bones and rotting teeth. Additionally, other symptoms begin to appear, such as weakened immune system, liver damage, increased body temperature, brain damage, seizures, stroke and even death.
Statistics of Methamphetamine Addiction
2012 statistics reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that more than 1 million people in the United States had used meth in the past year, while nearly half a million had used it in just the past month. Approximately 5 percent of people who entered treatment facilities for drug addiction did so because of addiction to methamphetamine.