Methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth, is an illicit stimulant sold as both a powder and a rock form. Meth became a popular drug of choice in the early 2000s and it shows no signs of decline. Clubgoers, homeless persons, and curious teenagers alike took to the drug for the euphoric rush and energy it provided. However, these drugs can easily turn from dangerous to deadly without the help of meth addiction treatment. To help you better understand this drug, let’s look at the side effects of meth abuse over the short and long term.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant made up of a variety of chemicals. The basis of these drugs is commonly an amphetamine, mainly in the form of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. These primary ingredients can be found in common cold, cough, and allergy medicines. This base is mixed with other chemicals, ranging from battery acid, to drain cleaner, to antifreeze. These chemicals are used to isolate the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine and cook it into a powder or rock ready to be bagged and sold.
The white, odorless powder is typically snorted, smoked, eaten, or heated into a form where it can be injected directly into the user’s veins. The rock version of meth, referred to as crystal meth, can be both smoked and injected.
Short-Term Effects of Meth Abuse
Meth users begin using the drug for a multitude of reasons. Many users desire the increase of energy and feelings of euphoria to get through a long night of partying. Others are after the instantaneous high and extreme feelings of pleasure. Some even take the drug to decrease appetite so that they can lose weight. Short-term effects of meth include:
- Increased energy
- Decreased appetite
- Increased physical activity
- Increased wakefulness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Tremors or convulsions
- Increased confidence
- Severe mood swings
- Erratic behavior
- Fast breathing
Due to the intensity of the high meth produces, the user becomes addicted to meth quickly. Some users are led to the drug from another gateway drug or are frequent users of cocaine looking for a cheaper way to get their fix. However they got there, many meth users find it difficult to walk away once they’ve used the drug.
Long-Term Effects of Meth Abuse
There is no shortage of long-term side effects of meth abuse. Firstly, the prolonged use of methamphetamine quickly causes addiction. Addicted individuals choose their drug habit above all else. Things that used to bring them pleasure, like friends or hobbies, now trail far behind their need for their next hit of meth. Frequently, meth users become unable to feel pleasure from most other things besides the drug, further fueling their addiction. Other long-term side effects of meth abuse include:
- Severe weight loss
- Intense itching
- Skin sores
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Violent and aggressive behavior
- Memory loss
- Changes in brain structure and function
Long-Term Effects and the Brain
Methamphetamine has the ability to cause hallucinations or the perception of something that isn’t actually there. Some meth users will have both visual and auditory hallucinations, meaning that they will see or hear things that don’t exist outside of their own heads. These hallucinations can incite erratic and violent behavior as the meth user may believe they are responding to a threat.
Meth users commonly have delusions that others are watching, following, torturing, or victimizing them. They are unable to fully distinguish their thoughts from reality. Long-term meth abuse damages brain function, leading to these neurological disorders. Long-term users also suffer from structural damage to the brain in areas that affect cognition and emotion, which can explain why meth users experience psychosis.
Meth can even cause a stroke. A stroke is caused by diminished blood supply to the brain. Extreme alterations of blood flow, heart rhythm, or blood pressure typically occur as a result of methamphetamine use. Precipitously high blood pressure, vasculitis, and direct toxicity to the blood vessels caused by methamphetamine use can cause blood vessels to tear or leak, resulting in dangerous hemorrhagic strokes.
Long-Term Effects and the Body
Meth abuse frequently causes dramatic weight loss in users, causing them to look emaciated and sickly. Things like nutrition often fall to the wayside for meth users, causing them to lose hair and appear unclean. The addict lifestyle also ages users very quickly, with unhealthy skin and premature wrinkles clouding a once recognizable face.
One particularly well-known attribute of meth abusers is rotten teeth. Meth users experience tooth decay and gum disease as early as one year into their addiction. This synthetic, chemical-filled drug prevents the salivary glands from protecting tooth enamel by drying out the mouth. Additionally, addicts typically ignore good hygiene practices in favor of chasing their next high, so tooth brushing and dental visits become a thing of the past. Meth also increases feelings of anxiety, which can cause some users to grind or clench their teeth. Unfortunately, this tooth damage is ultimately irreversible.
Get Help With Meth Addiction Today From Apex Recovery San Diego
Apex Recovery San Diego can help you overcome your meth addiction. Our experienced and knowledgeable team of counselors and therapists offers an array of treatment options that will meet your individual needs. We understand the complexity of meth addiction and strive to provide personalized care plans that support long-term sobriety goals. With our comprehensive approach, we can help you address the underlying causes of your addiction and develop strategies for managing your cravings and triggers.
Our support team will guide you through each step of the recovery process, providing tailored treatments to help you reach your sobriety goals. With our commitment to your success, we believe in empowering you to take control of your future and create a life free from meth addiction.
If you’re ready to take the first step toward a healthier lifestyle, contact Apex Recovery San Diego today at 619.458.3435 and discover how our experienced team can help you on your journey to recovery.