- Mental Health»
What are the Dangers of Crystal Meth Addiction?
Methamphetamine, more commonly known by various street names as crystal meth or meth, speed, crystal, ice, chalk, crank, etc., is being abused more widely now than ever before and across all age groups. From being a preserve of teens early on, it has now crossed over to the general population. The main attraction of this drug is its ability to maintain wakefulness, help with weight loss, etc. I recently saw a report of this drug being used by certain Asian workers in Asia to be more productive in their work by staying awake and being alert more than they normally would, without using methamphetamine. So, it seems more people are embracing this drug and view it as a good thing, when in fact this drug can do immense damage and spoil the lives of its users, like many other drugs. Admissions to substance abuse centers of meth addicts have been reported to be increasing constantly, and it seems as if this drug has managed to find acceptance amongst all social/age groups. This poses huge health concerns to the individuals concerned as well as the public health system. Along with the damage that comes with usage of the drug, there are also transmissible diseases to contend with like hepatitis and HIV. I think perhaps a lot of folks start using meth because they don't know the damaging effects of the drug beforehand. So, perhaps, this article would help in revealing what meth or crystal meth is all about.
What Exactly is Methamphetamine / Crystal Meth?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that can be very addictive and its main action is on the central nervous system. It is a drug that can be easily manufactured from chemicals that can be found quite easily and this is one of the reasons it is made clandestinely by users. It is also quite inexpensive to make. Because of its addictive nature, methamphetamine has been categorized as a schedule II drug and one needs a prescription to obtain it. Of course, because of the reasons mentioned above, including its ease of manufacture and inexpensive aspect, it continues to be made clandestinely and abused. Ironically, it has its medical uses too, specifically in the treatment of narcolepsy, which is a sleep disorder, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). However, for treatment of these conditions, the dosages are much, much lower than what an abuser would take. Meth users typically develop tolerance to the drug easily and develop a requirement for higher doses to achieve the same level of stimulation that they are used to. It is this addictive nature of the drug that makes it so dangerous for its users.
What Are the Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse?
Since it is a stimulant that directly affects the central nervous system, the effects of meth abuse are similar to those of other drugs. The effects include:
- Feeling of euphoria.
- Increase in the alertness level.
- Being awake more than usual.
- Increase in the stamina level/physical activity.
- Increased aggression.
- Decreased fatigue.
- A loss of appetite.
- Increased sexual arousal.
Since meth, once ingested, is released into the blood stream quite steadily and gradually, its effects can last up to 12 hours or so. Users of meth feel a sense of euphoria and general well being because of increased levels of dopamine. However, as the effect wears off, users can crash and feel agitated and fall asleep for more than a day. To prevent this, users could resort to excessively binging on the drug to prolong its effects. Since meth can also cause potentially deadly effects such as increased blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, convulsions, high body temperature, etc., an overdose could prove fatal. It doesn't take much - as little as 50 mg can cause a negative reaction from the body and could prove deadly.
How Can You Identify An Abuser - What Are the Signs?
Some of the telltale signs of a meth user can be:
- Increased weight loss.
- Being nervy.
- Constant talking.
- Not showing an interest in normal activities.
- Skin or hair pulling.
- Dizzy feeling.
- Severe bout of depression.
- Dilation of pupils.
- Grinding of teeth.
- Some users (younger ones in particular) can exhibit teeth that are black or have eroded down to the gum line.
The Deadly Effects Of Meth On Its Users:
Some of the extremely damaging effects meth usage brings about include:
- Hallucinations, both visual and auditory.
- Increased tendency to be violent and aggressive.
- Anxiety/prone to be depressed.
- Long-term usage can lead to interference with brain function, including problems with learning skills and memory loss.
- There could also be motor damage in the form of tremors and other features that are similar to Parkinson sufferers.
- Long-term usage can also lead to cardiovascular damage due to effects such as irregular heartbeat, stress, etc. Also, users can become more prone to strokes due to the damage on the blood vessels because of high blood pressure and stresses that users go through.
- Users are also susceptible to suicides due to the rapid crash effect that comes after the euphoric state.
What Are the Treatment Options & Can Effects Be Reversed?
Treatment can include programs such as 12-step programs and other measures that can prevent relapse. Abstaining from the drug for a prolonged period can reverse many of the effects that meth brings about. Meth abusers need support and help as quickly as possible to limit the damage they end up doing to themselves. Treatment for young abusers (especially those below 17) is especially challenging since some of the effects of meth abuse may not be able to be reversed in them, especially those related to brain function and behavioral changes. Since the brain of youngsters develops through those crucial years till they are young adults, the negative effects of meth abuse can perhaps impair their brain function and behavior.
© 2009 Shil1978