Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that has serious and dangerous consequences when used. It is becoming more and more common in certain areas of the country, as the drug is being manufactured and sold by local residents. It is made into a colorless, odorless powder that is smoked, snorted, injected, and taken orally.
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How is Meth Made?
Meth is often manufactured in clandestine labs, located in homes, barns, vehicles, and rental properties. This drug is relatively easy to make, from simple over-the-counter cold medicines. Meth manufacturers also use a variety of toxic household substances. Because the substances used to make the drug change in concentration and chemical structure, it is very difficult to predict just how a batch of meth is going to affect users. This makes meth a very dangerous and unpredictable drug.
Common Household Toxins Used to Make Methamphetamine:
- Drain cleaner
- Nail polish remover
- Hydrochloric acid
- Toilet bowl cleaner
- Paint thinner
- Brake fluid
Side Effects of Meth Use
Meth has remarkable effects on the user’s mind, body, and appearance, and it is extremely addicting. Meth significantly increases the level of the brain’s neurotransmitter, dopamine, which is a part of the brain’s reward system. Increased dopamine results in feelings of pleasure and euphoria, but it also results in cravings for the drug because of the “high” feeling. When a person withdraws from meth, they experience anxiety, fatigue, depression, and insomnia.
The dangers of meth abuse are many and varied. The most common side effects of using this drug are anxiety, confusion, and mood disturbances. Some people become violent. Many others show signs of psychosis and experience hallucinations and delusions. Meth abuse changes the chemical structure of the brain, leading to decreased coordination and ability to learn.
Chronic meth users will often experience drastic changes in their appearance. “Meth mouth” is the condition that results from toxins being taken orally, causing the teeth to rot. Many meth users feel like there are bugs crawling under their skin, which leads them to scratch and pick at their face, leaving sores and scars.
- Trouble learning
- Memory loss
- Increased activity
- Decreased appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- Weight loss
- Dental problems
- Decreased coordination
- According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): 1.2 million people (0.4 percent of the population) reported using methamphetamine in the past year, and 440,000 (0.2 percent) reported using it in the past month. In 2012, there were 133,000 new users of methamphetamine age 12 or older.
- According to the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey: 1 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders had used methamphetamine within the past year.
- According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN): In the latest statistics collected, methamphetamine accounted for about 103,000 emergency room visits in the past year.
How is Meth Addiction Treated?
Meth addiction is characterized by strong cravings for the drug. However, recovery is still possible. It just means that the recovery program must dedicate much time and energy into rehabilitating the person, teaching them how to avoid triggers, and how to manage temptations to use. Therapy models such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are effective in helping the meth addict examine and correct their negative thought patterns, and see the need to replace the harmful act of meth use with positive, healthy behaviors.
Meth use should not be taken lightly. Even someone who experiments with the drug just one time can become addicted, and those who cross over to addiction find it extremely hard to stop.
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