Methamphetamine is a highly addictive Central Nervous System stimulant. It is widely used in United States as a recreational drug. Less commonly, the drug is used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The effects produced by the drug are similar to those produced by cocaine but it costs less and is much easier to obtain, these facts make it a very popular street drug. The addiction of meth can be highly damaging but the recovery is possible. There have been cases where the addicts successfully quit the drug and managed to live a happy life.
Methamphetamine is structurally similar to amphetamine which is a compound frequently found in many OTC drugs that are used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Usually, meth is available in white powdered form or in the form of pills. Another form of this bitter tasting drug looks like transparent to bluish white crystals. The drug is given a number of street names such as:
The popularity of this drug in United States has increased and decreased over the past few decades. In 1960s, it was used for medicinal purposes that lead to a number of people ending up addicted to it. In 1971, under the Controlled Substance Act, it was categorized as schedule II substance that caused a significant decrease in the number of users and addicts. The popularity of drug increased again in 1980s and ever since it is widely being used in United States. There is a significant number of meth addicts in United States and the issue needs to be addressed.
Most of the meth consumed in United States is illegally manufactured in the country or imported from Mexico. But it is fairly easy to manufacture the drug with simple equipment in simple labs. The ingredients used in the process are obtained from easily available over-the-counter drugs, for example, pseudoephedrine, which is a chemical present in a number of medications used to treat cold. To prevent the production of meth, Congress passed Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act in 2005. According to the act, pharmacies need to keep a record of pseudoephedrine containing medications that are being bought. An individual is allowed to buy only limited amount of the medication per day. In some states, these medications can only be bought with a valid medical prescription. But manufacturers are dealing with this situation by buying the drug in large amounts from multiple sources.
The other chemicals that can be used to produce methamphetamine include acetone, anhydrous ammonia, red phosphorus, ether and even lithium.
Methamphetamine can be used in a number of ways such as:
The most common way to use the drug is swallowing it as stated by CEWG data. The quickest method to produce the effects is inhaling or injecting it since the chemicals present in the drug are quickly diffused into the bloodstream and produce intensely pleasurable feeling referred to as ‘rush’ or ‘flash’. The flash can last for a few minutes. Flash is not experienced in the case of ingesting and snorting the drug. The effects produced by meth appear and fade very quickly and this is the reason addicts keep taking the drug over and over again to maintain the high feeling and avoid coming down phase. Some people even give up on eating and sleeping and keep taking the drug in binges.
Methamphetamine works by increasing the production of dopamine which is a natural neurotransmitter present in the brain. Dopamine deals with motivation, pleasure and reward centers of the brain and when produced in high concentrations, it generates extremely pleasurable feelings by releasing an adrenaline rush in the body. The heart beat fastens, blood pressure and metabolic rate is also increased. The user gets a euphoric feeling that is highly addictive.
Methamphetamine is a very addictive drug because the brain gets used to function in the presence of higher than normal amounts of dopamine and when the dopamine is not produced in that high amounts, severe reactions are produced by the brain to force the user to take meth. Although meth is similar to cocaine but it is three times as potent. It is one of the most difficult drugs to quit after dependence is developed. It takes a number of uses to become addicted to the drug but the euphoric and ecstatic feelings produced by the drug motivate the user to take the drug one more time and the cycle continues. With prolonged use, body starts to develop tolerance and more amounts are needed to produce the same pleasurable effects. The tolerance eventually reaches to such a level that user fails to feel any rush at all after smoking or injecting the drug.
Though meth addiction and withdrawal symptoms are highly painful, the treatment is possible. Help should be sought as early as possible to make the process of recovery easier.
It is quite possible to overdose on meth. Overdose occurs when the user takes dangerously high amounts of drug. Toxic reactions are produced in the body that results into permanent damage to the health and even death. The problems that can be caused by meth overdose include:
Meth overdose is dangerous but it is treatable in most of the cases. The patient is taken to the emergency where treatment is provided to deal with heart attack, stroke and other fatal conditions.
Methamphetamine addiction is a significant problem in United States. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse: