What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant medication usually used as a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of this drug that looks like glass fragments or glistening, bluish-white stones. It’s chemically similar to amphetamine [a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder].

Other common names for methamphetamine include chalk, crank, crystal, ice, meth, and rate.|

Individuals can take methamphetamine by:

  • inhaling/smoking
  • consuming (pill)
  • snorting
  • injecting the powder that’s been dissolved in water/alcohol

Since the “high” in the medication both begins and fades quickly, we often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern. Sometimes, individuals take methamphetamine in a form of binging known as a “run,” consuming food and sleep while continuing to take the medication every couple of hours for up to several days.

How can methamphetamine affect the brain?

Methamphetamine increases the sum of the organic chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body motion, motivation, pleasure, and reward (pleasure from natural behaviours like eating). The drug’s ability to discharge high levels of dopamine quickly in reward regions of the brain generates the “hurry” (euphoria) or “flash” that many people encounter.

Short-Term Effects

Taking even smaller amounts of methamphetamine can lead to lots of the same health effects as those of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines.

These include:

  • increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • decreased appetite
  • quicker breathing
  • rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • increased blood pressure and body temperature

How Can Manufacturers Make Methamphetamine?

Producers make the majority of the methamphetamine found in america in “superlabs” here, more frequently, in Mexico. But some also produce the drug in small, secret labs with inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicines.  To curtail production, the law requires pharmacies and other retail shops to maintain a purchase list of products containing pseudoephedrine. Someone could only purchase a limited amount of these products on one day.

Long-Term Effects

Individuals who inject methamphetamine are at heightened risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. Methamphetamine use can also alter decision-making and judgment resulting in risky behaviours, such as unprotected sex, which also increases risk for disease.

Methamphetamine use may worsen the development of HIV/AIDS and its consequences. Studies indicate that HIV causes more harm to nerve cells and much more cognitive problems in people who have HIV and use methamphetamine than it does in those who have HIV and do not use the medication. Cognitive problems are those involved in thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.

long-term methamphetamine use has a number of other negative consequences such as:

  • extreme weight loss
  • severe dental problems (“meth mouth”)
  • severe itching, resulting in skin sores from scratching
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • sleeping problems
  • violent behavior
  • paranoia–intense and irrational distrust of others
  • hallucinations–senses and images that appear real though they are not

Additionally, continued methamphetamine use causes changes in the brain’s dopamine system which are associated with decreased coordination and impaired verbal learning. In studies of people who used methamphetamine within the long run, severe changes also influenced regions of the brain involved with memory and emotion.  This may explain a number of the psychological and cognitive difficulties observed in individuals who use methamphetamine.

Although some of these brain changes may reverse after being off the drug for a year or longer, other changes might not recover even after a long period of abstinence.  A recent study even suggests that individuals who used methamphetamine have an increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a disease of the nerves that affects movement. 4

Are there any health effects from exposure to secondhand methamphetamine smoke?

Researchers do not yet know whether people breathing in secondhand methamphetamine smoke may get high or have other health effects. What they do understand is that individuals may test positive for methamphetamine after exposure to secondhand smoke.  More study is needed in this field.

Can someone overdose on methamphetamine?

Yes, someone can overdose on methamphetamine. An overdose happens when the individual uses too much of a medication and contains a toxic reaction that leads to serious, harmful symptoms or death.

Methamphetamine Infection may result in stroke, heart attack, or penis problems–such as kidney failure–due to overheating. These conditions can lead to death.

How do a methamphetamine overdose be treated?

Since methamphetamine overdose often contributes to a stroke, heart attack, or penis issues, first responders and emergency room physicians attempt to treat the overdose by treating these conditions, with the purpose of:-

  • restoring blood flow into the affected region of the brain (stroke)
  • restoring blood flow into the heart (heart attack)
  • treating the organ problems

Is methamphetamine addictive? If people stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms may include:-

  • stress
  • fatigue
  • severe depression
  • psychosis
  • intense drug cravings

How do people get treatment for methamphetamine dependence?

The best treatments for methamphetamine addiction so much are behavioral treatments, such as:-

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations where they’re most likely to use drugs
  • motivational incentives, which uses vouchers or little cash rewards to encourage patients to stay drug-free

While research is under way, there are now no government-approved drugs to treat methamphetamine addiction.