What is meth?
Methamphetamine (meth) is a synthetic substance known as a neurotoxin and a powerful psychostimulant that is often used as a recreational drug. The drug is snorted, smoked, or injected by its users.
While most cases of meth addiction are due to illegal use, the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved methamphetamine for prescription use under the name Desoxyn. In the prescriptive capacity, Desoxyn is used to treat obesity and severe cases of ADHD, but it’s rarely prescribed due to the extremely addictive nature of the drug, and the severe side effects.
When used illegally, methamphetamine is known as meth, crank, ice, crystal, or speed. The drug is either pure Dextromethamphetamine or equal parts levomethamphetamine and Dextromethamphetamine. Both substances are schedule two controlled substances and are banned for production, distribution or sale in the United States.
Effects of Meth Use
In low doses, meth can create an elevated mood, increases in concentration, alertness, and energy, and a sense of euphoria amongst users. At higher doses, meth has been known to induce psychosis, rhabdomyolysis (a condition that causes muscle tissue to break down rapidly), and cerebral hemorrhage. While high, users often experience pupil dilation, flushed skin, hyperactivity, excessive sweating, increased activity levels, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, high blood pressure, diarrhea and blurred vision. Often, users experience odd behavior such as twitching or repeated scratching of specific areas while on the drug and the inability to sleep or remain sedentary for periods that sometimes last for several days.
While high on the drug, most users don’t eat and can go days at a time without ingesting anything – sometimes even water. Users report increased libido and lowered inhibitions which often lead to instances of date rape and/or increased instances of sexually transmitted infection amongst demographics that are linked to the so-called “party and play” or “PnP” scene. The term is often – but not always – used and associated with gay men where the drug is said to be an epidemic in the community.
Meth is a neurotoxin, so when the user comes down, rapid changes in mood and behavior are not uncommon. The crash following meth use is often very severe and marked by hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) and depression due to depleted serotonin and dopamine levels.
Short & Long Term Health Hazards
In the short term, meth users typically experience severe crashes after coming down from the drug, as well as serious side effects such as insomnia, confusion, anxiety, hallucination, and paranoia. In some cases, users may experience convulsions, which could lead to death. Other common side effects include weight loss, hyperactivity, nausea, delusions of invincibility, increased aggression levels, and severe irritability.
The long-term effects of meth are quite severe. It’s not uncommon for users to cause irreversible harm to the body with repeated use. Some of the most common long-term effects are increased heart rate, high blood pressure, damaged blood vessels (which lead to stroke or cardiovascular disease), brain damage, depression, memory loss, and failure of the heart, liver, kidneys or lungs.
In addition, meth has been shown to prematurely age most users due to the harmful effects of the drug on skin, teeth, and hair. “Meth mouth” is a common term used to describe the severe decay, enamel erosion, fracture and loss of teeth – as well as a host of other oral problems – stemming from the use of methamphetamine. In addition, habitual users often experience facial deformity and scarring due to repeated itching or picking at the skin.