What is Methamphetamine

What is Methamphetamine
What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a dangerous synthetic drug that is highly addictive, often after just one use. This drug is illegal in most forms, such as powder and crystal, and is only legal in tablet or capsule when authorized by use of a prescription for certain medical conditions. Meth use changes a person, both physically and mentally, and often causes permanent damage to many of the body’s systems.

What Is Methamphetamine?

This is a synthetic substance, meaning man made, that has stimulant effects on the central nervous system. It is often referred to as a super charged stimulant. Similar in properties to amphetamine, it works on the centers of the brain that affect pleasure and movement. This drug is highly addictive, often from the first use, though the initial feeling of euphoria can never be obtained as it was the first time due to chemical changes in the brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 5 percent of the population have used this drug at some point in their lives.

Meth AKA: Street Names for This Drug

This drug is known by many names, such as chalk, crank, speed, redneck cocaine, dust, cotton candy, trash, junk, and scooby snax. Crystal meth, the crystallized form of this drug is often referred to as ice, glass, crystal, chunky love, quartz, ice cream, and cookies.

What Does this Drug Look Like?

Crystal meth looks like chunks of ice, glass, or crystal. In the powdered form, it is generally white or off-white, but it can range to various shades of yellow, orange, tan brown, pink, and red as well. The powdered form will have a crystallized look to it. It may also be pressed into tablets or put into capsules.

How Is this Drug Used?

While crystal meth is nearly always smoked, it may also be cut into powder and even dissolved into liquid. In these other forms, meth may be snorted, smoked, injected, or ingested orally.

What Are the Risks of Using this Drug?

There are many risks to using this drug. There is the risk of legal trouble, not only from the drug use, but because it causes many users to behave violently. It will destroy physical appearance as hygiene becomes less important and the immune system is weakened. Body tissues deteriorate causing damage to organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Brain damage may occur resulting in loss of cognitive abilities and possibly permanent mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. This drug can cause seizures and coma. No matter how long a person has been using this drug, any use might be the last as this drug can cause instant death.

How Does this Drug Affect the Mind?

Methamphetamine affects the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that send messages to different parts of the brain and affect the body and mood. According to studies done by Montana State University, this drug affects the neurotransmitters in different ways. Those affected include:

  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine
  • Serotonin

Depending on the neurotransmitter affected, this drug can either stimulate or halt production of the chemical, cause an overabundance by preventing the re-uptake of the chemical, and cause damage to the receptors and death of nerve and brain cells. This can lead to:

  • Increased drug-seeking behavior
  • Behaviors that mimic schizophrenia
  • Dulled emotions
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Memory loss

If the nerve receptors are permanently damaged or destroyed from use of this drug, the person may suffer from these effects for the rest of his or her life.

How Does this Drug Affect the Body?

Meth users first experience a sense of euphoria, quickly followed by:

  • Increase in energy
  • Heightened alertness and awareness
  • Increased stamina
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Decrease in appetite

However, negative physical effects also occur that include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Itching of the scalp
  • Skin crawling

Higher doses can also lead to elevated body temperature, seizures, heart attack, and stroke.

What Are the Overdose Effects of this Drug?

Overdose on this dangerous drug can happen very easily, as the user may not even realize too much drug was taken due to the sense of euphoria that is being experienced. Overdose may include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Rapid breathing

However, these signs may also be present just from using the drug, so it is often difficult to distinguish between regular use and overdose. Death often occurs quickly with a heart attack or stroke with no prefacing symptoms.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Using this Drug?

A short term user may be able to hide the use, especially if taking lower doses of this drug and taking the drug infrequently. There are, however, short-term effects that may not be so physically noticeable. These include:

  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Tremors
  • Itching
  • Convulsions

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Using this Drug?

It may be easier to spot a long time user of this drug due to a gaunt and haggard appearance. The skin loses elasticity and begins to sag, aging the user by many years. Cheeks and jawline will become sunken in appearance. The teeth will become broken and rotted, resulting in what is known as “meth mouth.” Blood vessels will collapse preventing vital nutrients to reach different parts of the body. The immune system stops working properly. Acne and sores develop. The user will develop scabs from picking at the imaginary bugs that are felt crawling under the skin. The heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys become damaged, which may lead to disease or death.

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