Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that affects the central nervous system. It causes euphoria and the abnormal releases of dopamine in the body. Because it is a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine gives a person a rush of energy and powerful feelings of pleasure.
World War II soldiers ingested this drug to keep awake during long nights of battle. In the 1950s, people used methamphetamine as an antidepressant and weight loss aid. However, abuse of this drug became prevalent as its physical and psychological damages. This pushed governments to make this drug illegal.
According to the World Health Organization, the abuse of methamphetamine is an increasingly growing global problem. Using meth has been proven to lead to severe drug addiction or drug dependency, and body degradation and even death.
If you have a loved one or a family member who is possibly showing signs of meth addiction, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, effects, and consequences.
What Makes Meth Addicting?
Methamphetamine is more commonly called either meth or crystal meth depending on whether it’s in its powder or rock form. Meth is a crystalline powder usually used by smoking, snorting, injecting it into one’s body, or even orally through a pill.
Methamphetamine triggers an excessive release of dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine affects body movement and reward-motivated behaviors as it releases chemicals in the brain to feel pleasure and satisfaction as part of the body’s reward system.
Meth’s ability to release abnormal amounts of dopamine stimulates the reward system of the brain, thus making the user have a strong desire to do it repeatedly. Consistent use of meth eventually alters the decision-making centers of the brain. The first few times someone uses this drug, it is a conscious decision made in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. However, as time goes on the decision moves into the hindbrain, making it an involuntary or an automatic response of the body.
Using meth can be so reinforced in a person that its use suddenly feels like a bodily necessity to feel good. Because of this, there is a tendency for people to take more and more of this drug and ignore other regular physical needs.
Stages of Meth in Your Body
Meth stimulates the central, and sympathetic nervous system and its effects are usually almost instant. There are three distinct stages of meth intoxication.
Stage 1: The Rush
This the sudden rush of dopamine in the brain upon taking meth. Effects of this stage last from 5 to 30 minutes, and they include:
- Increased pulse rate
- Dilated pupils
- Higher blood pressure
- Faster metabolism
Stage 2: The High
After the first stage, a sensational “high” will course through the body. This feeling lasts longer than the first stage and is present from 4 to 14 hours. To keep this high, people who abuse meth usually go through a period of “binging” the substance for several days to avoid “crashing.” Effects of the second stage of meth ingestion include:
- Rapid thinking patterns
- Waves of confusion
- Increased aggressiveness or violent behavior
- Obsessive focus on particular tasks
- Distracted behavior
- Extreme bursts of energy
- Feeling of euphoria
Stage 3: The Crash
This is the last and possibly the most dangerous stage when using meth. During this period, the body has reached its limit processing the drug and makes a user feel physically exhausted. In this stage, the craving for meth is stronger than ever and can make a person enter the “tweaking” phase. Effects of this last stage can include:
- Long periods of sleep
- Frustration and paranoia
- A strong craving for meth
- Psychotic state
- Disconnection from reality
- The feeling of bugs crawling under the skin
A body immediately metabolizes meth as it goes through the bloodstream. Usually, after 10-12 hours, 50% of the ingested meth will eventually be discarded through urination. Based on this, meth can still be in a person’s body for up to three days after the most recent use.
However, the method and frequency in which meth is ingested can affect how long or how short it stays in the body before it is fully eliminated. If meth is injected and/or used for a long time, it will take longer before the drug is expelled from the body. Age is also a factor, as younger people often have a faster metabolism, and can usually eliminate toxins faster.
There are many ways and tests to detect if a person has ingested methamphetamine. Many companies, employers, police enforcers, drug treatment centers, and sports administrations use these tests to determine if a person is a meth user.
These include detection in:
- Urine Tests; detection ranging from 2 hours to 5 days after last use.
- Blood Tests; detection ranging from 2 hours to 3 days after last use.
- Saliva Tests; detection ranging from 10 minutes to 4 days after last use.
- Hair Tests; detection up to 90 days after use.
How Does Meth Damage Your System?
Meth abuse can have long-lasting and sometimes irreversible effects on your body. The following are just several examples of what meth does to your body.
Because meth is a stimulant, it creates stress on the cardiovascular system that can eventually lead to:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Disruption of normal heart rhythm
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
Liver and Kidney Damage
Multiple meth toxins increase the organs’ risk of:
- Organ failure
- Muscle tissue break-down
Respiratory Tract Damage
Smoking meth is one of the usual methods of ingesting the substance thus causing:
- Damage in the lungs
- Constricted blood vessels
- Alveolar hemorrhage
Remember, these effects don’t even factor in the psychological repercussions of addiction and withdrawal that could affect the person and those around them.
Signs of Meth Use
People who abuse the substance typically show physical and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid eye movement
- Severe dental problems (meth-mouth)
- Skin sores
- Rapid heart rate
Behavioral signs of meth use include:
- Loss of appetite
- Teeth grinding
- Hair or skin picking
- Aggressive behavior
- Being strangely alert
What Are The Next Steps?
When someone becomes addicted to meth, there is a strong psychological and physical impact that comes with it. Dependency on the drug becomes a psychological problem that can be very hard to cure.
Stopping drug abuse will be a long and hard process, as there is always the potential of extreme withdrawal, especially for long-term users. But it is never too late, nor is it impossible.
If someone you know is suffering from meth abuse, the first step is an intervention and letting them realize that they are not alone in fighting this problem.
Treatment doesn’t happen overnight. Luckily, a support system lasts longer than that.
When the patient is more willing, then you can turn to rehabilitation centers to create a strong support system and a solution to stop the drug abuse. Rehabilitation and affirmation go a long way into a person’s healthy recovery.
If you or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment in Orange County, CA and don’t know where to turn, we, at Roots Through Recovery can help. Reach out today to get started. Visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or call (866) 766-8776 for immediate assistance.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that hijacks the body’s pleasure sensing system, causing the user to experience temporary euphoria at the cost of rapid, and most times permanent health degradation.
Meth abuse can ruin a person’s body and mind, as addiction and drug dependence can cloud the user’s priorities.
Although meth addiction can be difficult to cure, it is not impossible. With an excellent support system, proper treatment, and the patient’s willingness, they can overcome. To learn more about how to treat meth addiction, visit [blog link].
Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. About safe or legal services, products, and therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.