Methamphetamine or meth elicits feelings of high that users get attached to, leading to abuse and dependence. This powerful stimulant comes in many different names – ice, crystal, blue, or speed. Over 24 million meth abusers around the world are reported annually, according to United Nations. This statistic shows how addictive meth can be that once a person tries, he or she ends up craving for more.
Effects of Meth
Meth works by increasing the levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for physical movements and motivation. It reinforces rewarding behavior and in effect, an abnormal dopamine increase in the system leads to the repeated drug-taking conduct.
Simultaneously, meth also stimulates the production of another neurotransmitter called noradrenaline (sometimes referred to as norepinephrine). This brain chemical accounts for the workings of the cardiovascular system’s sympathetic nerves. It promotes alertness, memory retrieval, focused attention, and anxiety. It is what triggers an action in fight-or-flight situations.
This addictive drug elicits both short-term and long-term effects on health. Short-term effects include the following: increased wakefulness (or energy), decreased appetite, rapid heartbeat, fast breathing, and elevated blood pressure.
The euphoric sensations of meth reinforce repeated use until the body believes it can no longer function without the stimulant. It is not surprising how a single try, out of curiosity, leads to prolonged use and abuse.
In the long term, meth contributes to significant weight loss, skin sores, anxiety, sleep problems, memory loss, paranoia, and poor oral health. To some extent, kidney and lung problems, as well as compromised immune systems, occur.
Meth abuse also increases the risk of contracting infectious diseases, such as Hepatitis B and HIV. Many addicts were found to display decreased decision-making ability and increased risky behaviors.
Types of Meth
Meth can come in pill, powder, or crystal forms. Depending on its form, people take it in by swallowing, snorting, smoking, or even injecting. There are three main types of meth, namely crystal, base, and speed.
This glass-like rock form of methamphetamine, either smoked or injected, is more potent as it is in a purer form. This distilled form is devoid of cutting agents. Such a level of purity makes crystal meth faster to absorb and longer-lasting. Therefore, it is more dangerous relative to other forms. People refer to it as shabu, glass, ice, or tina in the streets.
Long-term users of crystal meth find it hard to quit without professional help. If you know a loved one or a friend dependent on crystal meth, you are wise to call the nearest drug rehabilitation facility.
If crystal meth is translucent, the base is a thick and oil substance, ranging from white to yellow. It is known as pure, wax, or point in layman’s terms. One can either swallow it or inject it into the bloodstream once it is powdered and mixed with a liquid substance like alcohol.
Its level of potency ranges from medium to high. That said, you can expect nearly the same side effects as with crystal meth, including the severity of “the crash” or the feeling of exhaustion after the high.
Speed is the least potent of all three forms. It carries the slang names go-ey or uppers. Unlike the base, speed has a lower level of potency. It can easily be snorted, swallowed, or injected as it is already in powder form (white or off-white).
It is also the least pure form as it is often mixed with cutting agents or other chemicals. Dealers and manufacturers use other powdery substances such as baby powder, cough medicines, pain relievers, and caffeine, to increase product mass while maintaining its reduced costs. This technique allows them to reap more profits.
While it is in an adulterated form, consuming speed does not mean less harm. Polydrug use is known to elicit fatal consequences like coma. For instance, ecstasy pills, which comprise a wide-ranging combination of drugs like meth, cocaine, and yes, even dog-deworming medicine, pose greater danger. One drug can maximize the effects and risks of another.
The euphoric effects of meth last for only a few days. After which the body, in response to the abnormally elevated sensations, enters a “comedown” or “crash” phase. During this low period, the drug wears off and the person feels exhausted, depressed, loss of appetite, and sleepy. To a certain extent, the person also feels irritable.
These unpleasant withdrawal symptoms would prompt the individual to crave more meth, and the endless toxic cycle repeats.
Seeking Professional Help
The adverse impacts of meth are far-reaching. They affect not only the physical but also the mental, emotional, and social well-being of the person. Risky behaviors such as high-speed driving and fighting, are common.
Also, meth abuse involves the lives of others. At work, a person may show decreased productivity and unfounded business decisions. At home, a person can cause financial debt in the family or cause physical harm.
The drug alters the natural balance of your body. A person, therefore, falls prey to its addictive effects – be it crystal, base, or speed. A strong will to stop helps but is not sufficient to elicit long-lasting recovery. Professional help is needed.