Meth is known in the medical circles as methamphetamine, and it is a strong stimulant that targets the nervous system. Specifically, it affects the nerve cells involved in regulating body temperature, heart rate, mood, appetite, attention, and alertness.
The drug is artificial, and it was first made in 1893 in Japan. Today, it is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means it has a number of legitimate medical applications. However, its stimulant properties made the substance prone to abuse.
Meth is one of the most addictive drugs in the United States. Because of its popularity, meth goes by a lot of street names, such as beannies, brown, chalk, crank, cinnamon, crystal, ice, fast, tweak, wash, and most commonly, speed.
To learn more about what meth is and why it’s harmful, read on for a few facts about it.
1. Meth has both solid and liquid forms
As a solid, it can be either a fine powder or a coarse one called crystal meth. The drug is also made into pills and tablets.
In pure form, this drug is a crystalline powder. It is actually colorless, but it appears white or off-white. It tastes bitter and is odorless. Other times, the powder may be pink, green, or yellow, indicating impurities or other ingredients mixed with the drug. In these cases, the powder may smell like urine or rotten eggs.
The drug is often snorted directly, but some users prefer to dissolve it in water and inject it into their veins.
Crystal meth, on the other hand, looks like tiny shards of glass or rock salt. Because of its appearance, it is known in the streets as blade, glass, or ice. This form is made by dissolving the powder until crystals develop. The crystals appear translucent, but they can also look bluish. Users who take this form often smoke or inject it.
The drug is also in tablet form, which are commonly called yaba. The tablets are green or red, smaller than aspirin tablets, and have the letters R or WY on them. They contain a mixture of caffeine and 30% methamphetamine.
Yet another form of the drug is liquid, which looks like a dark yellow syrup. This form is rarely sold on the streets, though. Drug makers often convert it into crystal or powder form before they sell it.
2. Meth has legitimate medical applications
There is an FDA-approved form of methamphetamine under the brand name Desoxyn. The drug is effective in improving alertness, which makes it useful for people with severe attention deficit disorder (ADD). Also, it is used as a treatment for obesity when other treatments have had no effect. Furthermore, Desoxyn is sometimes used for treating mucosal swelling in the nose triggered by colds.
The drug was also used during the world wars to enhance focus in soldiers and pilots. Also, it minimized feelings of cold, hunger, and fatigue. For a time in Germany, it was also used as a fatigue medication. The drug was named Pervitin, but it was discontinued in 1988.
3. Meth produces a range of pleasurable feelings
The drug causes the release of a brain chemical called dopamine, which is dubbed the happy hormone. It is called such because its release triggers feelings of pleasure. With this, users feel a euphoric rush after taking the drug.
The drug also enhances the release of other brain chemicals involved in mood, social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, blood pressure, and heart rate. Consequently, these aspects would also affect users.
The drug’s most pronounced effect, however, is on the happy hormone dopamine. It has been found that the drug can raise dopamine levels by ten times more than any activity that does not involve drugs. This is why meth is a highly addictive substance.
As a powerful stimulant, it has a range of other results in users, such as:
- Improved self-confidence
- Better focus and alertness
- Suppression of hunger
- Suppression of fatigue
- Being more talkative
- Reduced appetite
4. Prolonged use of meth can produce fatigue
Because of the intense high that users get from the drug, they tend to take more of it to get high. However, nerve cells have a limited supply of dopamine. If all of it is released, taking more of the drug will not produce more of the high. It may take from two to ten days before the stores of dopamine are replenished. As the user keeps taking speed in this period of time, the opposite effect happens, which is fatigue.
Other negative side effects include irritability, restlessness, and being moody. Users may also become more forgetful.
5. Long-term use of meth has fatal consequences
If users persist in using the drug, it can cause a variety of damaging effects, including:
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Brain damage
- Liver and kidney damage
- Heart attack
- Lung damage
If they do not seek immediate medical attention, these symptoms may lead to death.
6. Some people use meth to help them stay awake or for weight loss
Two of the side effects of the drug are increased alertness and decreased appetite. Thus, some people take advantage of these and use the drug either for staying awake or losing weight.
However, they are not exempted from the negative consequences of the drug. Worse is that these people may also become addicted, especially if they are not aware of the dangers. According to Jim Peck, a clinical psychologist from UCLA, some users have become addicted after just one or two doses.
7. Meth addiction can be cured
Although considered as one of the hardest substance addictions to treat, it is still quite possible to recover from this addiction. Meth rehab involves weaning users out of the drug and helping them through the withdrawal symptoms, some of which cause depression and suicidal tendencies. By the third week of abstinence, recovering users should feel much better as their mood and energy improve.
Do you know someone struggling with this addiction? Talk to a professional today and help them get their lives back.