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Methamphetamine: an abusive stimulant to stay awake

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Methamphetamine: an abusive stimulant to stay awake

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. Due to its potent nature, many people who abuse meth develop addiction quickly. The term meth abuse refers to uses other than those recommended by a healthcare provider or, more frequently, the use of illegal drugs. 

The main symptoms of meth abuse are the need to take more meth to experience euphoria and other pleasurable effects, high blood pressure, meth mouth, and other physical and mental health problems. Since it’s a powerful drug, meth side effects can be disastrous and life-threatening.

The causes behind meth abuse can be genetic, physical, and environmental. In other words, some people are genetically predisposed to develop substance use disorder, whereas others are under the strong influence of meth’s effect on dopamine release. 

Also, a family history of meth use or socializing with people who abuse this drug can lead to dependence, addiction, and other problems. Having a mental illness also increases the risk of meth abuse.

Men are more likely to abuse methamphetamines. They might use methamphetamines for many reasons, including the drug’s stimulant effects, the euphoria and pleasure it can produce, peer pressure, social issues, and the need for an outlet in the face of emotional difficulties. 

The average age for meth abuse was between 18 and 25, with 20 years being the average age of onset of meth consumption. However, teen meth use isn’t uncommon. Many adolescents admit they’ve tried meth as early as 12 years old.   

The most common treatment options for meth abuse include therapy such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). 

The Matrix Model is a common approach to the treatment of meth abuse; it’s a 16-week behavioral treatment that combines CBT with family education on what meth is, a 12-step program, individual counseling, and drug testing. People with meth abuse also need a strong support system at home to overcome their problems.

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a powerful and highly addictive central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. The drug appears as a bitter-tasting, white, odorless, crystalline powder that is easily dissolved in alcohol or water. The powder is, then, made into a shiny rock (meth crystal) or pill.

Sometimes, doctors may prescribe methamphetamine to treat patients with ADHD. In these cases, meth functions by enhancing attention and mitigating hyperactivity in children and adults diagnosed with ADHD, a drug information on methamphetamine (oral route) from the Mayo Clinic explains. However, methamphetamine isn’t a standard medication for this condition, and healthcare professionals prescribe it rarely. However, people generally use meth drugs illegally. 

Methamphetamine was first manufactured in Japan back in 1919. A publication titled, “Methamphetamine drug profile” from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports that most meth is manufactured in the United States and the Far East.

Another drug fact sheet on methamphetamine published in April 2020 by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) explains that methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II stimulant under the Controlled Substances Act. This indicates that although the substance has a recognized medical application at this time (in FDA-approved products), it also has a significant potential for abuse. The only legally available meth product today is Desoxyn for ADHD or obesity, but this prescription can’t be refilled.

Methamphetamine abuse is common. In 2020, among U.S. people aged 12 or older, about 0.9% (or 2.5 million) reported meth use in the past year. At the same time, 0.6% or 1.6 million people from the same age group suffered from methamphetamine use disorder within the previous twelve months, according to a methamphetamine research report titled, “What is the scope of methamphetamine use in the United States?” from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

The same report also confirms that 32,537 people died in 2021 from psychostimulant-related overdoses, primarily with meth. Unfortunately, one a 2021 report from the National Institutes of Health titled, “Trends in U.S. methamphetamine use and associated deaths” showed the rates of methamphetamine use increased by 43% in the period between 2015 and 2019. The number of people who consumed cocaine and meth together increased by 60%, and the number of people with meth addiction jumped by 62%.

What is Methamphetamine

What are the other terms or common street names for Methamphetamine?

Other terms for methamphetamine are methlies, ice, hot ice, crank, speed, blade, chalk, trash, wash, gak, dunk, stovetop, yaba, and pookie. Other common street names for this drug also include Tina, Christina, cristy, cookies, no doze, rocket fuel, white cross, cotton candy, and Scooby snax. 

Meth is sometimes combined with other drugs to intensify its effect. Street names for these combinations are shabu, fire, biker coffee, twisters, hugs and kisses, and party and play. 

Various terms are used to describe getting high on methamphetamine. Some of these terms are hot rolling, tweaking, zooming, chicken flipping, and getting geared up. Additionally, getting fried or foiled and getting scattered or spun out are also slang terms for getting high on methamphetamine.

How to use Methamphetamine

Methamphetamines can be used through various methods, including smoking, injecting, snorting, or ingesting. According to a 2019 article titled, “How is methamphetamine misused?” from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the preferred method of meth use varies from one geographical region to another. It also changes over time.

Many people smoke or inject methamphetamine. In fact, smoking is the most common method of meth misuse. It’s possible to smoke hydrochloride salt of meth by itself, without adding anything to alter its form. Some people use a “flute” or glass pipe to smoke crystal meth.

These methods allow the drug to reach the bloodstream and brain quickly. As a result, a person experiences an instant “rush.” Injecting or smoking meth amplifies the drug’s potential to cause addiction and also emphasizes its side effects. 

The rush, also called “flash,” after meth use, is short-term but described as pleasurable. This explains why people keep using meth and develop an addiction.

While people can achieve a “high” effect or euphoria by snorting or ingesting meth orally, they don’t experience the instant rush. Generally speaking, oral ingestion or swallowing meth produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes, while snorting works within three to five minutes.

People tend to abuse meth in the “binge and crash” pattern, like other stimulants. Binge and crash mean a person keeps taking the drug to maintain the effects of methamphetamine. Sometimes they use the “run” pattern, which involves meth use for several days without sleeping or eating anything.

Methamphetamine use

What are the common effects when you use Methamphetamine?

Common effects of methamphetamine use that may occur quickly after ingestion include decreased fatigue, improved attention, euphoria, and rush. People also experience increased wakefulness and become more active. 

Their appetite decreases, whereas respiration increases. Higher body temperature and rapid heartbeat are also common short-term effects that occur quickly after someone takes methamphetamine.

These effects don’t last long, which is why a person needs more meth to achieve them again. This paves the way to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. At the same time, a person who uses meth also starts experiencing some long-term side effects of meth use.

Long-term effects of methamphetamine use include weight loss, mood disturbances, and severe dental problems or meth mouth. Psychosis in the form of hallucinations, paranoia, and repetitive motor activity is also a common long-term effect of meth abuse. 

Other long-term effects of meth use include violent and aggressive behavior, memory loss, enhanced distractibility, deficits in motor and thinking skills, and changes in brain structure. 

People who keep using meth also deal with premature osteoporosis, skin sores due to constant itching and scratching, and permanent damage to the organs, according to an article titled, “Know the Risks of Meth” recently updated in September 2023 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Continuing with meth abuse also leads to sexually aggressive behavior and difficulty feeling any pleasure other than the satisfaction that comes with meth use. Some people may get seizures and pain in their chest or stomach.

Methamphetamine effects

What are the fatal side effects when you using Methamphetamine?

Fatal side effects when you use methamphetamine  include addiction, overdose, and death. These consequences often occur at the late stage of meth abuse. Since methamphetamine is highly addictive, people tend to build tolerance quickly, which can lead to accidental overdose. 

Other life-threatening adverse reactions to methamphetamine include organ failure and severe cardiovascular problems. This puts a meth user at a high risk of heart attack, stroke, and hyperthermia, all of which are life-threatening conditions.

Some people may reverse organ damage when they stop using meth. However, this may not be the case for people who take large doses of meth too frequently. They are at risk of permanent damage to their brain and heart. Also, in some people, kidneys may be so severely affected they stop functioning properly. When that happens, a kidney transplant is the only solution.

Fatal side effects of methamphetamines go beyond physical health and extend to mental wellbeing. For example, methamphetamine can worsen the side effects of depression. Severe depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies. In other words, meth use and misuse put a person’s life in danger in more ways than one.

fatal side effects of Methamphetamine

Can using Methamphetamine cause damage to your internal organs?

Yes, using methamphetamine can cause internal damage to your organs. For example, methamphetamine abuse and addiction can damage kidneys, heart, liver, brain, and other organs and systems in the body. 

A study by Baradhi et al., published in the September 2019 issue of the BMJ Case Reports also shows that methamphetamine use is an undervalued, yet preventable, cause of end-stage renal disease. Basically, end-stage renal disease is the final and permanent stage of chronic kidney disease. At this point, the function of the kidneys declines and they’re unable to work on their own. 

Generally speaking, persons who abuse meth are susceptible to kidney failure. That happens because when they binge on meth, people don’t drink enough fluids. Dehydration ensues and leads to a drastic lowering of blood pressure. Blood flow to the kidneys is also slow and weak. As a result, kidneys become vulnerable to damage and prone to failure. 

A 2020 study by Isoardi et al., published in Nephrology (Carlton) confirmed meth intoxication leads to acute kidney injury. While acute kidney injury can be mild and short-lived when treated properly, continuing with meth abuse leads to more serious problems that affect the functionality of the kidneys. 

Many drugs can also cause liver damage, and methamphetamine is not an exception. For example, a 2013 study on how methamphetamine causes hyperthermia-dependent liver damage from Pharmacology Research & Perspectives confirmed methamphetamine abuse can exhibit toxic effects on the liver. These effects persist for several hours after exposure to the drug. 

The main mechanism of action through which crank drugs contribute to hepatotoxicity is hyperthermia. Amphetamines, including meth, produce a major increase in body temperature due to changes in peripheral and brain physiology. 

Hyperthermia induces cellular damage through oxidative stress. Plus, methamphetamine is metabolized in the liver, which can also lead to the development of oxidative byproducts and cellular damage.

When discussing the effects of meth abuse on internal organs, it’s also important to mention the drug can cause scary effects on the lungs. Inhalation of meth contributes to oxidative stress due to higher levels of free radicals, which could lead to  various types of meth-induced lung injury, including  pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary edema, and eosinophilic pneumonia, a 2019 paper on methamphetamine-induced lung injury from the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine reports. 

Additionally, a study on methamphetamine-related cardiovascular diseases published in the April 2020 issue of ESC Heart Failure confirmed that cardiac complications are common causes of mortality and morbidity in people who abuse methamphetamine. 

 A growing body of evidence confirms that large doses of methamphetamine reduce several dopamine markers including the density of dopamine transporters. At the same time, meth abuse can lead to cognitive deficits. Meth abuse is associated with differences in brain structure, volume, and integrity too according to a 2012 paper by Hart et al., from Neuropsychopharmacology. However, more research is necessary to understand the different effects of methamphetamine abuse on brain function.

Finally, chronic meth use can cause memory deficits, deterioration of executive functioning, and reduced attention. These effects are attributed to the inflammatory and neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine, which can ultimately contribute to neuronal damage, according to a study by Kim et al., published in the September 2020 issue of Biomolecules & Therapeutics (Seoul).

Methamphetamine and Amphetamine difference

What is the difference between Methamphetamine and Amphetamines?

The main difference between methamphetamine and amphetamines is in the potency. Methamphetamine is a lot more potent than amphetamine. Also, amphetamine is a type of stimulant drug class to which methamphetamine belongs. 

More precisely, amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant usually prescribed for the management of ADHD, obesity, and narcolepsy. Examples of amphetamines include Adderall, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse. Amphetamine was discovered in 1887 whereas methamphetamine was first synthesized in 1919.

As a medication, amphetamine is prescribed more often than methamphetamine. However, just like methamphetamine, amphetamine is also a Schedule II controlled substance. Compared to amphetamine, methamphetamine is more often illegally produced, distributed, and consumed.

When it comes to amphetamines vs. methamphetamine, it’s also important to mention both drugs can produce short-term feelings of pleasure or happiness. However, methamphetamine is a lot stronger, works faster, and is more addictive. 

While their structure is similar, methamphetamine has a distinct structural difference that allows it to enter the brain faster and more intensely. For that reason, withdrawal from methamphetamine induces more severe symptoms. 

A study by Goodwin et al., published in the January 2009 issue of Journal of Biological Chemistry found that methamphetamine and amphetamine also affect dopamine transporters differently. 

Higher dopamine in the nucleus accumbens is crucial for addiction development. Nucleus accumbens plays a key role in reward, sexual, feeding, and drug self-administration behaviors. Methamphetamine exhibits a greater influence on dopamine. This explains why methamphetamine exhibits stronger, and more dangerous, effects on a person.