Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal meth, chalk or ice, is a highly addictive drug. Methamphetamine is white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder, which people smoke, ingest, snort, or dissolve in liquid to inject it. When people take it, they experience a euphoric high or rush, increased activity and talkativeness, and reduced appetite.
Methamphetamine was developed from amphetamine in the early 20th century, and was used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Like many drugs, methamphetamine targets the reward center of the brain, making it flood with dopamine. This makes people feel a rush of pleasure that can last for several hours; however, after it’s over, the crash can be quite bad.
Methamphetamine is so highly addictive; so much so that someone who takes it twice can become addicted. That’s because methamphetamine changes the brain; research has shown that by the third dose, the choice to take meth is no longer a person’s own. The choice to make meth moves from the prefrontal cortex, which makes decisions, to the hindbrain, which handles involuntary actions, such as breathing.
Not only does methamphetamine affect the brain, it starts to destroy the body by the first dose. Since the drug makes people feel good, so they may push their bodies further than they’re meant to go. It also suppresses appetite, so meth users often experience extreme weight loss. Their sleep patterns may be disturbed; they may find themselves more aggressive or irritable.
Other symptoms of meth abuse include:
- Meth-induced psychosis
- “Meth mouth”
- Crank bugs – a hallucination
- Moderate to severe high blood pressure
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Overactive thyroid
- Increased activity and alertness, insomnia
- Severe anxiety, tension or agitation
- Repressed appetite
- Elevated body temperature
- Feelings of superiority and elevated confidence
Red Flags of Meth Abuse
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Skin changes: shadowy eyes, pale/grey skin, acne-type sores, dry or itchy skin, dermatitis around the mouth
- Severe nail biting, nose bleeds
- Aggressive, violent, overly energetic or rambling behavior
- Irritability and moodiness, with sudden depressive states
- Picking at skin or hair, causing sores that don’t seem to heal
- Wakefulness that lasts for days, or perhaps more than a week