Methamphetamine is a stimulant that is abused by many people across the world, especially in the Western, Midwestern and Southwestern United States. Meth can be found in many forms such as a white powder, a chunky crystalline substance or fitted into pills. It is often referred to as crystal meth, crank, ice, glass, and the poor man’s cocaine. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or ingested. The majority of meth that exists in the United States is produced in black market laboratories using cold medicines and other ingredients.
Methamphetamine releases large amounts (600 times the normal amount) of dopamine into the brain, which sparks feelings of intense pleasure. It gives the user a sense of well-being that can last between eight and twelve hours. This phenomenon begins within minutes of taking the drug, so people who feel they need a quick fix may turn to it. Meth is also easy to make with allergy medicines, ammonia, iodine, rubbing alcohol, starter fluid and drain cleaner. Therefore, meth is also cheap and sells for much less than cocaine or heroin. Teens may also be tempted to try meth as they are most inclined to try new experiences. It is estimated that 4% of the U.S. population has tried methamphetamine at least once in their life.
Methamphetamine causes brain damage and symptoms can include extended short-term memory loss, poor judgement and disorganization. A meth addict may be recognized by their dilated pupils, sickly body weight, skin sores and abhorring teeth. The sores are caused by the users themselves, who will scratch and pick at their skin uncontrollably. Perhaps the most noticeable effect of meth use is seen on the teeth. Methamphetamine addicts often have what is called “Meth Mouth,” which includes cracked, yellow and brown teeth, gum disease and lesions on the lip. It also weakens the immune system making it harder to fight off disease and can damage the liver. It can even cause the user to have a stroke.
Traces of methamphetamine can stay in the body for many days or even weeks after a person has stopped using. After this detox period has run its course, symptoms of withdrawal begin. During meth withdrawal, addicts will become sad and depressed. There is even a chance they will experience suicidal thoughts. When someone is going through the withdrawal stage, they need to be monitored at all times. The withdrawal stage can last up to eight months, so be sure to find a number of trustworthy people to keep tabs on the recovering user.
If a recovering addict contemplates suicide, is a threat to others or if they cannot swallow or stomach food, they need to go to a medical facility. There are a number of medications that can assist with the process of withdrawal, but none are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. When recovering from a meth addiction, it is important to stay away from other drug users and meth itself. Some positive interactions can be found in 12 Step programs and around non drug users. The brains of meth addicts may become more normal within two years after they quit using, but for some, permanent damage remains.
Meth abuse is a serious problem in the United States and in other parts of the world. Even though the addict began using of their own volition, they are incapable of stopping. They need the support of doctors, 12 step programs, counselors, court, and friends and family members to guide them away from the drug and help them through the stages of withdrawal. If someone does not seek help, they are at risk of destroying their body or overdosing. If you suspect someone you know is using methamphetamine, consider the symptoms and help them face their addiction before it is too late.