Methamphetamine. It speeds you up. It makes you feel more productive. The first time you use it, you feel smarter, and more charming. You feel invincible. You have more courage, more energy. Anything seems possible. Meth is the most powerful stimulant out there. And it’s one of the most popular, too. The effects that you get from meth use can be very appealing at first. It can seem like a miracle drug. But it doesn’t take long for the chemical to take hold and start destroying your body. It’s a dangerous substance and one of the most addictive out there.
The Effects of Methamphetamine
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says meth can take over brain chemistry. Dopamine levels shoot up, and you feel an intense euphoria. You feel happier than you’ve ever felt before. Those feelings start immediately, and they can last for 12 hours or more, per the National Drug Intelligence Center. The problem, however, is that these feelings aren’t real. They’re artificial, and they come with a cost.
The body and brain are becoming damaged, even if you can’t feel the damage just yet. A man interviewed for Vice magazine talks about what life was like early in his love affair with meth. He was using it at work because while he was high he felt more efficient. He felt more focused. The meth made it all seem easier. There was no fatigue, and no boredom. With drugs, he felt like a better employee. And he couldn’t feel the brain damage or the changes, even though his addiction was beginning to pick up speed, and his body and brain were paying the price.
What makes meth appealing is the very same thing that makes it dangerous. The intensity and duration of the burst of energy may make you feel like you can push yourself harder and longer, but your body is often not up to the challenge. You may not feel hungry or tired, but you still may be suffering from malnutrition and exhaustion. You just don’t feel it. Chemicals are making your brain believe you’re super human. But your body is being run into the ground.
And then there’s the matter of tolerance. In the beginning, the sensation may feel amazing; but each time you try meth, you get less and less of a rush. So you use more. You find yourself using more and more to achieve the same result. Until eventually you’re merely chasing the high. You can’t ever seem to feel as amazing as you once did from using, but now you need the drug just to feel normal. It’s not about finding artificial joy anymore; it’s finding your next fix. Doing anything to not feel the crash that inevitably comes after a binge.
The Consequences of Using Meth
Meth is downright toxic to a number of vital tissues. Every time you use meth, the brain is flooded with dopamine. Dopamine is usually a good thing, but too much of a good thing is exhausting for your brain. And in time, it stops responding to normal levels of dopamine. Prolonged meth use can mean an inability to feel happiness without continued drug use. When you get to this stage, the things that may have once brought you joy now leave you with no feeling at all. Honest and natural happiness has become elusive.
Brain cells involved with behavior can also be damaged by meth use. And when that happens, per PBS, a person’s actions and reactions can become really strange.
People who take meth often can develop:
- Violent Behavior
Meth addicts might seem crazy. They talk to people who aren’t there. They worry about issues that don’t exist. And they yell and scream at nothingness. Unable to stop the emptiness and the craving, they lose their sense of identity. Psychosis can set in, making a meth user act differently. In a psychotic state, they exist in their own world. They’re seeing and hearing things that exist only in their mind. The fear or anger that they experience in this state may seem crazy to us, but to them it’s very real. Someone you know and love can become violent and dangerous in this state. And they don’t realize that what they’re doing is wrong. The drug wreaks havoc.
Meth is also very hard on blood flow. The drug causes tiny little vessels that deliver blood to shrink. Tissues require nutrients, and when blood vessels are constricted, parts of the body don’t get what they need to function properly. People abusing meth seem to age right before your eyes, and this is why. Teeth fall out. The skin develops sores. The body looks emaciated. A once vibrant loved one has become unrecognizable.
An addict may not remember what things were like before their drug use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says meth can ruin parts of the brain that deal with reward, motivation and pleasure. Meth addicts may have trouble learning. They may not be able to regulate their emotions. Thoughts may not be clear. They may not even know what they’re fighting for. Sobriety seems pointless.
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What is “Crystal Meth”?
Methamphetamine is sold in two forms: one is powdered, and one is crystalline. The solid form is often known as crystal meth, and it tends to be a bit purer than the powdered form, according to Medical News Today. But that makes the drug even more potent. Even more addictive. And even more dangerous.
Multiple Meth Problems
A meth addiction can destroy finances. In South Carolina, for example, a pound of meth was worth an estimated $50,000 in 2015. That’s a lot of money. For someone not hooked on a deadly drug, that kind of money would go to a mortgage, or an education, or saved for a rainy day. But to a person with an addiction, crystal meth is the only thing worth buying. Meth comes before an addict’s health. It comes before obligations. It comes before friendship. And it comes before family. Children of meth addicts often go without because to a parent with a meth addiction, the drug comes first. Let that sink in. This addiction is so strong that it hijacks parental instinct. Meth has become more important than caring for a child. The drug is the only thing that matter to an addict. Finding it. Keeping it. Protecting it. And finding more of it.
Batches of meth you buy on the street aren’t made in pristine laboratories. There’s no quality control. No cleaning. No sterilizing. Instead, the drugs are made fast, and they’re made dirty. As an expert quoted by the Washington Post puts it, dirtier drugs make dealers more money. Dirty drugs don’t work as well. So the addict buys more, and someone hooked on meth will pay every time. So the dealers make more. Why would they make meth cleaner? They’d lose money.
So dealers often put additives in meth. These are products you normally wouldn’t ingest:
- Talcum powder
- Nail polish
- Drain cleaner
- Lighter fluid
- Other drugs
- Dirty water
Even if meth is considered “pure,” it’s far from safe. With chronic use, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, people can develop serious forms of brain damage. And it can be hard to find the bottom of that addiction. The changes caused by this addiction are knitted into the fabric of the brain. Meth hardwired you to want more meth. And that’s a hard cycle to break.
A man interviewed for the New York Daily News is a good example. This man tried to make meth in his car. He wasn’t a chemist. He just wanted to get high. But then everything caught fire. The man was irreparably burned. He was badly scarred. His life was ruined. And yet, he continued using the drug for another year before trying to get clean. He couldn’t stop. This life changing fire and disfiguring accident wasn’t his bottom.
If someone in your life is showing signs of meth abuse, you might feel like nothing you’re saying or doing is helping. You might feel hopeless and helpless. But according to Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA), they suggest you learn more about what crystal meth is and why people take it. Learning about the addiction is a good first step in understand what’s happening to your loved one. From there, you can decide what kind of treatment your loved one may need.
We’d like to help. At Northbound, we offer oneEighty, our residential sub-acute detox to help with the immediate withdrawal and transition gently away from the using lifestyle. From there, we offer a full continuum of care for the meth addict. From residential treatment, we walk with our clients as they fight their addiction. With our In Vivo treatment, we slowly introduce them back into the real world, and teach them how to live without any mind-altering chemicals. We even offer Collegebound, a program for those who want to pursue an education while in treatment. And then there’s Careerbound, for those who want to find a job and build a career while in treatment. We walk with our clients as they put down the pipe and pick up new life skills.
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Meth Addiction doesn’t have to be the end. Recovery is a beautiful new beginning. Call us today to find out more. We’d love to help.