Meth is an up and coming epidemic that is not getting the media attention it should be. It is becoming a part of almost every town and community in the U.S. Meth use has been on the rise for the last decade and it is not showing any signs of slowing down.
What is Meth?
Meth, or methamphetamine, is a stimulant. The kind of meth you find on the street is made illegally. It is an extremely addictive drug that affects the central nervous system. Meth can be consumed in several different ways. It can be snorted, injected, taken in pill form, and/or smoked. There are some, like teens, that consider it a “party drug”. Unfortunately some people can end up addicted after trying it for the first time or second time. Meth is man-made.
There are a lot of different chemicals that go into making this drug. Chemicals used to make meth are ephedrine/pseudoephedrine, acetone. sulfuric acid, lithium, ammonia, and other incredibly volatile chemicals. Some ingredients are found in over-the-counter cold medications. Because this drug is made by different people in different places, the dose, potency, and chemical make-up are never the same. Meth can look like a crystal-like powder or a shiny glass-like rock.
What Does Meth Do?
When ingested, there is an immediate rush. This rush lasts for a few minutes. After that initial rush, there is a high called “the shoulder”. During this part of the high a user will become extremely aggressive and argumentative. There is a delusional aspect to a meth high. This can lead a user to clean the same spot repeatedly or become fixated on something insignificant for hours.
Unlike crack cocaine which is an intense but fleeting high, a meth high can last up to 16 hours. During days long binges there are repeated attempts to get that initial rush back, but it doesn’t happen. This creates a need to upkeep the high. Users can just keep using for days at a time until their body shuts down.
During a meth binge users do not eat, sleep, or do not drink any water. Because they aren’t drinking water the mouth dries out causing “meth mouth.” Meth causes horrible damage to the teeth and mouth. The long-term use of meth can lead to serious health issues. They way meth affects the brain can lead to brain damage. Even after getting clean, some are left with memory gaps, severe mood swings, or permanent mental health illnesses. During a meth binge or when coming down, a user can fall into a psychosis. This drug can lead you far away from reality.
Meth will cause damage to the cardiovascular system. It causes the blood vessels in the heart and brain to shrink leading to possible heart attacks, strokes, even death. The kidneys, liver, and lungs can be damaged, as well. The different ways meth can be ingested can cause different types of problems. People that smoke meth can put their lungs at risk. People that inject meth can lead to abscesses and other infectious diseases, like Hepatitis C. If taken in pill form, the liver and kidneys are in the line of fire. Meth is a serious drug. No matter how you do meth, it will hurt your body. It can cause serious, and sometimes, irreversible damage.
How Serious Is This?
Meth has been and will always will be very addictive. Since it was made illegal in 1971, the use hasn’t slowed down. In 2013, it was reported that over 12 million people aged 12 and up use meth illegally at some point in their lives. In 2017, one-third of drug overdoses involved stimulants. Deaths involving stimulants have been steadily rising.
With meth on the rise, some states have begun taking a firmer stance on users and dealers. For example, if you are caught with 1-3.99 grams in Texas, you may receive a third degree felony with a sentence up to 20 years and a $10,000 fine. The combined federal drug control budget request for 2018 was $27.57 billion, up from $23.8 billion in 2013. This includes prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. There are other drugs on the market and the numbers are high with those, too. That does not make meth any less dangerous.
Treatment For Meth
There is help for meth addicts. Like any other stimulant, regular users may experience some feelings of withdrawal. Paranoia, delusions, and severe headaches, are some of those withdrawal symptoms. Usually, for the first few days people will catch up on their sleep and eat food. There are no regular sleep or eating patterns during a binge.
During detox and rehab those patterns will begin to return. They will begin to put some weight on, as well. The psychological dependence is so intense that it can keep people from seeking help. This is why a residential setting is strongly recommended. Intense therapy is an important tool for long-term sobriety.
Meth, like other drugs, takes over lives. Like any addiction, it becomes the priority and everything will fall apart. Meth addiction is a scary addiction to watch. Watching someone’s mental health deteriorate can be traumatic. There is no mold for a drug addict. It can be a mother, a brother, a life-long friend. If you or anyone you know is struggling, the sooner you call for help the better.