Methamphetamines are in the family of drugs called amphetamines, which are potent central nervous system stimulants. Methamphetamine is unique because it is a neurotoxin. This means that meth damages tissue alters the structure, and modifies the function of the nervous system.
Individuals who use meth experience a euphoric feeling, with increased energy and heightened alertness. Many people who use this drug binge it to keep the desired feeling from going away. This makes the drug highly addictive. It also creates a long list of side effects that can negatively affect the well-being of the individual using the substance.
“Meth” is the most common street name for Methamphetamine and is produced illegally. The production of this drug can be done in many ways. From large labs to small batches made in soda bottles, meth can be created using different processes. Due to this, controlling the methamphetamine problem in Canada has proven to be complicated. On top of this, there has been so much attention on the nation’s opioid crisis that the rise in meth use is flying under the radar.
The History of Methamphetamine
According to Drug-Free World, Methamphetamine was developed in Japan in 1919 and was widely used in World War II. Troops would use it to stay alert and high doses of it were given to Kamikaze pilots before their suicide missions.
In the 1950s, the drug became very popular and was prescribed as a diet aid and an antidepressant. During this time, Methamphetamine was not illegal, and it was used by many individuals seeking to “gain” a mental edge. Use by college students, truck drivers, and athletes were not uncommon.
In the 1960s, intravenous meth became more widely available, and with growing concern, there were severe restrictions put on the drug to reduce its availability. These restrictions led to the rise of illicit methamphetamine production.
While there is an approved prescription version of Methamphetamine in other countries, it is not approved for medical use in Canada. That being said, there are many prescription drugs, specifically those for ADD & ADHD, that mimic the effects of Methamphetamine.
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What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that appears as a white, odorless crystalline powder. The effects of meth are similar to amphetamine, yet meth is a more powerful stimulant. In addition, the effects last longer and are more harmful to the user. The drug is used in a variety of ways; for example, it can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed.
Why is methamphetamine so addictive?
It is a powerful stimulant that creates increased physical activity, wakefulness, decreased appetite, and alertness. It is the stimulating effects of the drug that make it so addictive. It causes high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine to be released in the brain. These large amounts of dopamine also contribute to it being so addictive.
Is long-term methamphetamine use dangerous?
Yes, compared to other drugs, methamphetamine produces negative long-term health effects that are irreversible. Someone who becomes addicted to the drug compulsively seeks the drug despite negative consequences. The drug creates tolerance and withdrawal, severe psychosis, affects emotion and memory, and physically affects a person.
How is methamphetamine addiction treated?
Treating meth addiction begins with detox to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The detox process can be difficult because of the physical cravings. In addition, there are psychological withdrawal symptoms. After detox, the next phase of treatment should involve long-term residential drug rehab with aftercare support. Anyone addicted to methamphetamine benefits from long-term rehabilitation.
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Effects of Methamphetamines
Methamphetamines affect the central nervous system and can cause different types of reactions. Those who abuse the drug do so because it can give a euphoric feeling and increase an individual’s alertness. The problem is some issues can arise when using such a powerful drug. The short-term effects of using methamphetamines are listed below:
- Feeling restless and anxious
- Talking non-stop
- Body overheating
- Raise in blood pressure
- Seizure or an abnormal heartbeat
Once an individual stops using the drug, there is a noticeable “crash.” This is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Feeling tired,
The symptoms mentioned above can occur after using the drug only once, but more severe consequences come with using methamphetamine long-term. The following are what one can expect if they decide to use the drug long-term:
- Memory loss
- Trouble thinking
- Problems with coordination
- Long term Paranoia under your skin
- Loss of appetite
- Damage to your teeth and gums
As you can see, the long and short-term effects of Methamphetamine can be detrimental to your health and well-being.
Medical professionals can treat meth overdoses, but unlike opioids, stimulants do not have an antidote. There is no substance like Narcan or Naloxone for meth users. The best thing to do if you suspect someone is overdosing from methamphetamines is to call 911 and get emergency assistance.
There are definitive signals that someone has taken too much meth, and if you witness the following symptoms, it is essential to reach out for help.
- racing pulse
- chest pains
- severe headaches
- aggressive behaviour
Information on Drug Rehab
While meth addiction is dangerous to one’s health, it is essential to realize that the use of meth in any circumstance is an indicator that an individual may need help. Even though drugs like alcohol and marijuana have their own set of risks, they are legal for individuals of a certain age. This means it is not uncommon for people to use these substances or experiment with them. And while DRS does not condone the use of drugs, we understand that many individuals can try these drugs without any issues. This is not the case with meth.
While there may be people who are social drinkers, there is no such thing as a social meth user. Using meth even once is an indicator that there is an issue and can lead to meth addiction.
Some have false data and believe that meth is a “low-status” drug, but it can affect all walks of life. Many individuals are addicted to meth that started out using it as a way to study during college. Some took stimulants prescribed by a doctor and moved to meth because it was more powerful and cheaper.
Regardless of how an individual comes to be addicted to meth, it is important to seek help immediately because it can rapidly take control of someone’s life.
When an individual is addicted to Methamphetamine, they will do almost anything to get their fix. It is not uncommon for individuals to lie, steal, and do other unsavory acts to get more drugs. The most effective option for individuals who decide to go to treatment for meth addiction is an inpatient facility. The reason for this is to prevent someone from giving in to cravings. It is much easier for those who do not admit themselves to surrender to their cravings and pick up their phone.
An individual’s decision to get help may only last for a couple of days and, in some cases even less than that. Knowing this, it is imperative to get someone into a facility as soon as they decide that they want help.
While at a facility, most individuals will start their treatment with a process that aids in the withdrawal from the drug. Some of the most important parts of rehabilitation from meth at this time are proper sleep and nutrition.
Due to the nature of methamphetamines, many individuals who get addiction treatment are malnourished and sleep-deprived. This can lead individuals to be paranoid, aggressive, and agitated. On top of this, many prolonged meth users experience anhedonia or an inability to feel pleasure. This is due to the effect meth has on dopamine in the brain.
When a methamphetamine user stops using the drug t, the dopamine levels in the brain go down. On top of this, when an individual uses meth for a long time, the brain’s dopamine receptors diminish. This means that there is less dopamine and fewer receptors available. These factors can cause those withdrawing from meth to be in a bleak state.
During treatment, medical professionals will work with those suffering to get them into a healthier state. After a couple of days of restful sleep and proper nutrition, there is a noticeable change in the individual. And while an adequate detox can make a significant difference, those recovering from meth addiction need help managing their behavior.
You see, those in the grips of addiction get accustomed to a particular way of behaving, and it is imperative to rehabilitate this behaviour. If not, they are at high risk of relapse.
Inpatient and long-term treatment programs in Canada take the time to address these issues after successfully detoxing someone. While programs can vary in length, the individual must be stable enough to go back to their life before being released. This time frame differs from case to case, but usually, the length of stay can be correlated to the length of time the individual was on drugs.
- From 2010-to 2015, hospitalization due to stimulants was up 800% in Alberta, 600% in Manitoba, and 500% in B.C.
- From 2010-to 2018, possession charges for Methamphetamine were up 630%.
- From 2008-to 2017, there was a 360% increase in meth detected in illicit drug overdose deaths.
- From 2010-to 2018 trafficking in Methamphetamine was up 340%.