Some of the best central nervous system (CNS) stimulants have medical uses that somewhat make up for the fact that they are also addictive. While they run the risk of causing dependence once abused, they still have a good purpose when used responsibly.
Methamphetamine hardly justifies its addictive qualities. In fact, it is more commonly used as a recreational drug, rather than a helpful substance. It is infrequently used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD as well as obesity.
This substance, whose name is a contracted form of N-methylamphetamine, is dangerous if taken outside prescription. There’s a reason why it’s so rarely prescribed nowadays.
In lower doses, it can elevate your mood, just like any other stimulant. It can make you more alert and more energized. It can even promote initial weight loss!
But in high doses, it can cause psychosis, seizures, and it can lead to the breakdown of skeletal muscle! In the worst cases, it causes the brain to bleed, leading to death.
Still, many people use it recreationally for the energy boost it provides. It lifts their mood and increases their sexual desire. One has to weigh whether this feel-good effect is worth the high risk of addiction and dependence.
History of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine in 1893 by a Japanese chemist named Nagai Nagayoshi. In 1919, methamphetamine hydrochloride was synthesized by pharmacologist Akira Ogata.
It played a role during the World War II, during which it was sold in tablet form under the brand name Pervitin. Pervitin was produced by a pharmaceutical company in Berlin called Temmler. Its performance-enhancing effects were used by militaries to extend their wakefulness during times of combat.
However, its side effects hindered them and they had to cut back its usage in 1940. Soldiers were unable to fight properly the day after taking Pervitin. Some even attacked civilians and their own officers alike, becoming more violent as an effect of the drug.
Up until now, methamphetamine is illicitly produced and trafficked all over the world.
How is Methamphetamine Made?
Methamphetamine and its “crystal meth” variation are produced in various clandestine laboratories. Inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients are often used such as pseudophedrine—an ingredient in cold medications. It also involves a number of chemicals that are both hazardous and easy to obtain. This includes acetone, lithium, ether, and red phosphorus.
Governments are still trying to control the production of this substance, but the drug industry and the black market is big.
Why is it Abused?
The drug’s effects quickly take hold of the user, especially if injected or smoked. It reaches the bloodstream and the brain in a matter of minutes, causing a “rush” for the person taking it. This rush lasts a few minutes and provides extreme pleasure.
Any method of administration will provide this same euphoric effects—even orally ingesting the drug. But users who want faster effects often inject it, putting themselves at risk of blood-borne infections that come with sharing a needle.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Methamphetamine is often a white or light brown crystalline powder. It can also be in liquid form. If you find it in your home, then that has to be the most obvious sign that someone is abusing it. Still, most adults will try to hide their use of illicit drugs, so getting this evidence might not be so easy.
If you fear that someone you love is abusing the drug—or is already addicted to it—there are a couple of signs you can look out for. If you find small pieces of crumpled aluminum foil lying around your house, that’s another indication of drug abuse.
But meth abusers often do not sleep for long periods of time. They take meth until they run out, or until they are unable to maintain consciousness. They will rapidly and drastically lose their weight, becoming and appearing malnourished. This is an effect of methamphetamine abuse, wherein the user loses their appetite.
The drug is a stimulant, so the user will appear euphoric or active. They may also be more nervous or anxious for no reason.
Meth use also manifests physically in a number of different ways. The user may complain about feeling a sensation of having bugs crawling underneath their skin. They may also start picking at their own skin, leaving sores on the face and everywhere else.
There’s also what is called the “meth mouth”. Methamphetamine use can lead to tooth decay or tooth loss. If you see these signs, plan your next steps carefully. Find the right treatment center for the patient and intervene. Users are known to reject help even when they clearly need it.
Side Effects of Methamphetamine
Chronic abuse of methamphetamine at high doses can create various adverse effects, both short term and long term. It can cause rapid mood swings and violent behavior. Some users even experience confusion and delusions.
The questionable manufacturing process behind street methamphetamine has a lot to do with these effects. In fact, this drug is one of the most severely damaging drugs on the illicit market. It can cause irregular heartbeat, paranoia, insomnia, and a rapid deterioration of the person’s appearance and health condition.
Psychosis, hallucinations, weight loss, severe dental problems, and addiction are all long term effects of abusing the drug. What make it even more difficult to recover are the various withdrawal symptoms that come once dependence has developed.
Treatment for Addiction
You may need to intervene in order to get a meth addicted person on the path to recovery. They won’t easily be convinced to enter a rehabilitation facility. Do the research yourself: find a good facility with a professional and well-trained staff. They will formulate the treatment plan upon medically examining the patient.
Right now, there are no approved medications that can “cure” methamphetamine addiction. Instead, these treatment facilities will rely on behavioral therapy and detoxification. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, is a 16-week approach that combines multiple aspects of therapy and counseling in order to teach the patient how to live a life without drugs.
This will be done while the dosage of meth intake is gradually lowered. Withdrawal symptoms will be addressed as well.
Post detox, there will also be behavioral therapy in order to prevent relapse.
Quitting the drug abruptly is not only impossible for the person who has developed dependence, but it could also be fatal. Heavy recreational use will lead to a post-withdrawal syndrome that may persist for months—even going beyond the regular withdrawal period.
Continued medical assistance, behavioral therapy, and counseling could go a long way in preventing all this. Of course, your unconditional love and support can have a great impact as well.