Methamphetamine is also known as ‘ice’. Meth is a white odorless white powder that easily turns cold in alcohol or water. Users may also call it crystal, white sugar, crack, meth, crack cocaine, go fast, Speed, rock, snow, ice cream, speed, or glass. In terms of physical effects, Methamphetamine closely resembles amphetamine but is only much more highly toxic. It is highly addictive and is highly likely to cause many health problems, especially heart and blood pressure problems. Methamphetamine abuse can also cause anxiety, depression, psychosis, mania, delusions, psychosis, hallucinations, agitation, hype, and depression (1).
Methamphetamine functions by blocking the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, two essential brain chemicals. In short, they are used as tranquilizers. This type of drug is highly effective in controlling mood swings and produces an immediate, intense “high”. Some of its side effects include memory loss, paranoia, violent behavior, heart damage, and respiratory failure (2).
Although methamphetamine can produce both euphoric feelings and disturbing thoughts, it is important to remember that this drug is a stimulant. Stimulants, such as cocaine, are only used occasionally as a form of personal pleasure. They are not habit-forming and do not damage the heart or blood pressure. As with most stimulants, however, crystal meth can produce some serious side effects, particularly if used over a long period of time (3).
Issues associated with overuse of methamphetamine
Over usage of crystal meth is now linked to a variety of medical problems including heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. As noted, the primary driving force behind meth use is that it produces a rush of energy through the central nervous system. This energy, which is called epinephrine, surges through the blood vessels and into the brain. The surge of energy can cause people to feel alert, and as a result, they may experience a sensation of euphoria. Unfortunately, this feeling lasts only for a short time. Within a matter of a few minutes, the energy surge and the associated feelings of euphoria fade, leaving users tired, irritable, and unable to concentrate (4).
Effects of excessive release of dopamine.
The excessive release of dopamine, however, does not produce the “high” people are used to. Instead, it produces a state of paranoia, anxiety, and depression. Methamphetamine addicts find themselves experiencing symptoms such as nausea, and delusions. Their brains basically “turn off” and do not respond to stimuli the way that normal people’s brains react. Methamphetamine addiction destroys the brain’s ability to regulate mood, appetite, sex drive, and normal brain functions.
When an individual is afflicted with methamphetamine addiction, there are certain risk factors that make them more likely to experience depression and psychosis. First, individuals who abuse methamphetamine are more likely than the average person to suffer from depression and other mood disorders. People who abuse this drug are more likely to experience severe anxiety, especially when stress and traumatic events occur. People who abuse amphetamine are also more likely to experience hyperactivity disorder in children. The presence of a hyperactive child or adult immediately raises a red flag for medical professionals and should be treated for that reason.
The toxic nature of methamphetamine
Methamphetamine and cocaine are both highly toxic. Methamphetamine, in particular, has extremely high toxicity levels, with death occurring in less than one percent of cases. Cocaine has a half-life of about four to five hours, while methamphetamine has a half-life of approximately three to four hours. Both amphetamine products have been proven to cause heart attacks and respiratory arrest, and liver failure, kidney failure, and coma. Furthermore, users of cocaine are more likely to commit suicide. Methamphetamine, in particular, has been linked to all of these problems at least in preliminary research.
Meth addiction and its devastating consequences have prompted various groups to lobby for stricter regulations and better treatment methods. Several states have made changes to their laws pertaining to prescription drug abuse and have reported decreases in their meth use and addiction rates. However, the nation as a whole continues to struggle with the complex issue of methamphetamine addiction and its accompanying issues. Effective treatment methods for those struggling with substance addictions are still relatively uncommon and underdeveloped, although they desperately need our help.