Abuse of methamphetamines is one of the fastest-growing drug trends in the United States.
One study released in 2008 revealed that about 13 million adolescents and adults in America have tried meth at least once, and many of these individuals have gone on to develop an addiction to the substance.
Meth is a dangerous drug, but the rush of pleasure it provides fuels addiction and keeps users coming back for more. In this post, we’ll talk about methamphetamines and discuss both the short-term and long-term physical effects caused by the drug.
What are Methamphetamines?
Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a powerful stimulant. It makes users feel awake, alert and happy—users compare it to a “cup of coffee times a thousand.” Meth is entirely man-made, unlike drugs such as heroin that are initially derived from plants.
The drug is often produced in illegal home labs where over-the-counter cold medications are used as a key ingredient. A meth manufacturer extracts certain components from these medicines and adds chemicals such as antifreeze or drain cleaner to boost the potency of the drug.
Methamphetamines usually take the form of an odorless white powder that can be smoked, snorted or injected; regardless of how the drug is taken, it produces the same physical effects and quickly pulls users into a vicious cycle of addiction.
Methamphetamines have powerful physical effects. They can increase a user’s attention span and wakefulness, curb the appetite and provide a euphoric rush. This false sense of energy and well-being often causes users to push their bodies beyond normal limits, resulting in a major “crash” when the effects of the drug wear off. The drug’s euphoric effects are thought to stem from the release of high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in the experience of pleasure.
Not all of the physical effects of methamphetamines are pleasurable. The drug can interfere with cardiovascular functions, causing rapid heart rate, heartbeat irregularities and high blood pressure. An overdose of methamphetamine can result in convulsions and elevated body temperature; without prompt medical treatment, death can occur.
Over time, methamphetamine use can take a serious toll on the body and mind.
Long-term physical effects of methamphetamine include increases in heart rate and blood pressure that can cause permanent damage to blood vessels in the brain. This damage can lead to strokes, and liver and lung damage are also significant risks.
The irregular heartbeat caused by continued meth use can lead to heart attack or heart failure. Stress to the cardiovascular system affects the skin by reducing the ability to heal and triggering acne. Long-term methamphetamine users can often be identified by the marked premature aging of their skin and presence of sores, a result of obsessive picking at the skin during hallucinations.
Many long-term meth abusers suffer permanent brain damage, experiencing memory loss and difficulty processing abstract thoughts. Some meth users experience violent mood swings and memory lapses long after they stop using the drug.
Methamphetamines are dangerous, highly addictive drugs, and they can cause irreversible damage with long-term use. If you or someone you love is struggling with meth addiction, know that help is available.