The abuse of methamphetamine addiction – a potent and highly addictive psycho stimulant – is a very serious problem. If you think you — or a friend — may have a methamphetamine addiction, talk to Teen Challenge. We can help you get the help you need free of charge. It’s especially important for someone who is going through withdrawal from a methamphetamine addiction to speak with a professional counselor. Withdrawal can be dangerous when it’s not monitored; all our services are free for any type of drug withdrawal.
Methamphetamine addiction leads to devastating medical, psychological, and social consequences. Methamphetamine addiction causes diverse health effects include memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, heart damage, malnutrition, and severe dental problems. Methamphetamine addiction also contributes to increased transmission of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, and can infuse whole communities with new waves of crime, unemployment, child neglect or abuse, and other social ills.
The good news is that Methamphetamine addiction can be prevented and can be treated. People do recover, but only when effective treatments that address the multitude of problems resulting from methamphetamine abuse are readily available. Primary goals of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are to apply what our scientists learn from drug abuse research to develop new and enhance existing treatment approaches and to bring these effective treatments to the communities that need them.
How is methamphetamine abused?
Methamphetamine comes in many forms and can be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested. The preferred method of methamphetamine abuse varies by geographical region and has changed over time. Smoking methamphetamine, which leads to very fast uptake of the drug in the brain, has become more common in recent years, amplifying methamphetamine’s addiction potential and adverse health consequences.
The drug also alters mood in different ways, depending on how it is taken. Immediately after smoking the drug or injecting it intravenously, the user experiences an intense rush or “flash” that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Snorting or oral ingestion produces euphoria – a high but not an intense rush. Snorting produces effects within 3 to 5 minutes, and oral ingestion produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes.
As with similar stimulants, methamphetamine most often is used in a “binge and crash” pattern. Because the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine disappear even before the drug concentration in the blood falls significantly – users try to maintain the high by taking more of the drug. In some cases, abusers indulge in a form of binging known as a “run,” foregoing food and sleep while continuing abuse for up to several days.
Don’t let yourself or a loved one continue to drown in the trap of drug abuse. Free help is available at Teen Challenge.
What are the immediate (short-term) effects of methamphetamine abuse?
As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. Methamphetamine can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions may occur with methamphetamine overdose, and if not treated immediately, can result in death.
Most of the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine are believed to result from the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is involved in motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function, and is a common mechanism of action for most drugs of abuse. The elevated release of dopamine produced by methamphetamine is also thought to contribute to the drug’s deleterious effects on nerve terminals in the brain.
In the brain, dopamine plays an important role in the regulation of reward and movement. As part of the reward pathway, dopamine is manufactured in nerve cell bodies located within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and is released in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex. Its motor functions are linked to a separate pathway, with cell bodies in the substantia nigra that manufacture and release dopamine into the striatum.
What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse?
Long-term methamphetamine abuse has many negative consequences, including addiction. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, accompanied by functional and molecular changes in the brain. In addition to being addicted to methamphetamine, chronic abusers exhibit symptoms that can include anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. They also can display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping under the skin). Psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after methamphetamine abuse has ceased, and stress has been shown to precipitate spontaneous recurrence of methamphetamine psychosis in formerly psychotic methamphetamine abusers.
With chronic abuse, tolerance to methamphetamine’s pleasurable effects can develop. In an effort to intensify the desired effects, abusers may take higher doses of the drug, take it more frequently, or change their method of drug intake. Withdrawal from methamphetamine occurs when a chronic abuser stops taking the drug; symptoms of withdrawal include depression, anxiety, fatigue, and an intense craving for the drug.
Chronic methamphetamine abuse also significantly changes the brain. Specifically, brain imaging studies have demonstrated alterations in the activity of the dopamine system that are associated with reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning. Recent studies in chronic methamphetamine abusers have also revealed severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory, which may account for many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic methamphetamine abusers.
Fortunately, some of the effects of chronic methamphetamine abuse appear to be, at least partially, reversible. A recent neuro imaging study showed recovery in some brain regions following prolonged abstinence (2 years, but not 6 months). This was associated with improved performance on motor and verbal memory tests. However, function in other brain regions did not display recovery even after 2 years of abstinence, indicating that some methamphetamine-induced changes are very long-lasting. Moreover, the increased risk of stroke from the abuse of methamphetamine can lead to irreversible damage to the brain.
Short-term and long-term effects
Short-term effects may include: Increased attention and decreased fatigue, increased activity and wakefulness, decreased appetite, euphoria and rush, increased respiration, rapid or irregular heartbeat and hyperthermia.
Long-term effects may include: Addiction, psychosis, includes: paranoia, hallucinations, repetitive motor activity. Also changes in brain structure and function and memory loss, aggressive or violent behavior, mood disturbances, severe dental problems and weight loss.
Don’t wait to be free from methamphetamine, complete an online application form to get help. One of our Support Workers or Centre Manager will then contact you to arrange an interview.