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There are many symptoms and warning signs common among those struggling from methamphetamine abuse. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following, it may be necessary to seek treatment for meth addiction:
Methamphetamine, commonly shortened to “meth,” is a highly addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. Also known as crystal, glass, ice and speed, it can cause an increase in an individual’s mood, concentration and energy. Although meth shares similarities with the legal stimulant amphetamine, which is commonly used in the treatment of ADHD, it is much more potent and causes more harm to the central nervous system.
Meth is manmade and typically comes in either powder or rock form. The powder is white and bitter-tasting, and can be snorted, smoked, ingested or injected. The rock form appears as white or clear “crystals,” and is referred to as crystal meth. It is the purer form of the drug and is usually smoked or injected.
The use of meth causes a release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, causing the user to experience an intense “rush” of extreme pleasure. This surge depletes the brain’s supply of dopamine, which can lead to depression once the effects of the drug have worn off.
Crystal meth has many negative side effects. Excessive or chronic use of meth can lead to a number of very serious health complications or even death.
Regular use of meth causes molecular and chemical changes in the brain. When not high on meth, an individual can have problems feeling pleasure and happiness. Instead, they experience increased feelings of sadness, anger, nervousness and anxiety. This causes the user to want to continually use meth, further depleting their supply of dopamine in the brain and increasing their tolerance to the drug. This quickly leads to addiction.
As the brain’s supply of dopamine depletes over time from chronic use of meth, the wiring of the dopamine receptors deteriorates which can cause permanent brain damage. This leads to the decline of a person’s motor skills, reasoning and thinking capacity, among other things. Higher doses of meth can induce seizures and bleeding in the brain. High doses among long-time users can lead to the development of psychosis, which may include hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
Methamphetamine causes several negative physical effects as well. Long-time users tend to suffer from severe tooth decay and tooth loss, known as “meth mouth.” They also have an increased risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. In addition, meth causes blood vessels to constrict and the heart to beat faster which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or death.