Methamphetamine, also known as "meth," is a dangerous and highly addictive substance that has potential to be very destructive to the individual abusing it. Crystal meth creates high levels of dopamine in the brain, making the user feel good temporality. This high is then followed by a heavy crash, as it does not last long and leaves the user wanting more. Such usage of this substance can lead to a vicious cycle of addiction, in addition to potential run-ins with the law and significant health risks.
What is meth?
Crystal meth is a stimulant drug. It comes in the form of a white, crystalline powder, which also gives it the name "crystal meth." The drug can be taken in several ways, including smoking, snorting or diluting it with water and injecting it. Meth abuse can lead to chronic addiction problems. It may cause the user to experiences disturbances in mood, insomnia, violent behavior and hallucinations or paranoia. Over time, repeated meth use can cause changes in the brain on the molecular level, which may lead to cognitive and emotional issues.
Effects of meth use
When meth is used habitually over an extended period of time it can have a range of effects on the user. Since the drug creates an intense high and then a crash, the user will want to get the "high" feeling back as quickly as possible. However, the body builds up a tolerance to the drug, causing the user to require greater amounts of the substance to achieve his or her high. "Chronic methamphetamine abusers may develop difficulty feeling any pleasure other than that provided by the drug, fueling further abuse. 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," writes the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
One of meth's effects is to make the user feel a decreased sense of hunger. As a result, he or she may not eat as much as is necessary and experience dramatic weight loss. Over time, meth can cause an increased heart rate and blood pressure, and damage to vital organs such as the lungs, liver and kidneys. In some cases, users who have experienced damage to the blood vessels in their brains as a result of using this drug may suffer a stroke. Additionally, some meth users may experience convulsions that cause their death.
Long-term users of meth may experience severe damage to nasal tissues, severe tooth decay, psychosis, depression and brain damage similar to that of an Alzheimer's patient. Even after recovery, the effect of long-term meth use can be lasting.
Proper diagnosis and treatment are critical to help individuals suffering from meth addiction. A dual diagnosis approach is effective in treating addiction because it pinpoints the underlying cause of addiction in order to treat it. By getting to the root of the matter, patients stand a stronger chance at lasting recovery.
Founded in 1989 by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, Fairwinds addiction treatment centers use a dual diagnosis approach to identify and treat addiction at its source. Our highly skilled team works with you or your loved one to create an individualized treatment plan including therapeutic counseling, clinical treatment and support for recovery. Contact us today to learn about our treatment programs for addiction and mental health disorders.