Meth or methamphetamine is a stimulant drug like cocaine, affecting the central nervous system (CNS). While the parent drug for meth is amphetamine, there are some unique differences.
For example, methamphetamine is longer-lasting and more powerful. If you were to take amphetamine and meth at similar doses, more meth would get into the brain.
Also, the elimination half-life of methamphetamine is 12 hours. This means that your system would need at least this amount of time to eliminate 50% of the drug.
There are also similarities between amphetamine and methamphetamine.
For example, both types of drugs can cause the following changes:
Additionally, both are available in prescription form. A weaker form of methamphetamine can help treat conditions like narcolepsy (a brain condition that causes a person to fall asleep at inappropriate moments) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Finally, both are habit-forming. A person who misuses or abuses methamphetamine runs a high risk of addiction, overdose, or, in extreme cases, death.
Currently, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies methamphetamine as a Schedule II substance. This means that people could abuse the drug and develop severe psychological and physical dependence. Some forms of meth (e.g., crystal meth) are so addictive that first-time users may even get hooked to the drug.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug. Because it builds dependence, you can also become tolerant of the substance’s effect. The danger here is that you may need to take higher doses more frequently through other administration routes (like injecting) to get high. This, in turn, can raise the risk of serious health complications and an overdose.
This a list of side effects that can occur shortly after taking methamphetamine:
This a list of side effects that can appear after chronic methamphetamine use:
The most common street names for methamphetamine are meth, blue, ice, crystal, bikers coffee, tweak, yaba, shabu, and chalk.
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Meth use often happens among adolescents and young adults within social settings. It is a preferred drug because it can give a stronger sense of confidence and boost energy.
However, meth use of this kind is not common (happening monthly or less). It also does not usually involve injecting.
Yet, as more time passes and dependence builds, people use meth more frequently within less social settings. The drug use pattern shifts from the occasional high to a repetitive, sleep-deprived “binge and crash” pattern.
The following physical signs may indicate meth use:
The following psychological signs may indicate meth use:
The risk of methamphetamine-induced psychosis is higher for people who began taking methamphetamine at a younger age, use the drug more frequently, or have a higher concentration of the substance in the blood.
The following behavioral signs may indicate meth use:
In 2017, approximately 964,000 people (12 years old and older) in the United States were living with a methamphetamine use disorder.
The “crash phase” represents the first stage of meth withdrawal. It often takes place within the initial 1 to 3 days after a person stops taking the drug.
In this phase, symptoms can include:
Once a week has passed, additional symptoms can arise, such as:
Then, in the final part of this particular phase, a person can develop symptoms like:
Overall, a person may go through this phase for up to 10 weeks.
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine tripled from 2011 to 2016. -Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Methamphetamine can pose many dangers to a person’s health.
Short-term health effects of meth use include:
Long-term health effects of meth use include:
There are many negative consequences of methamphetamine use, and the list continues. It is important to remember that methamphetamine affects the body heavily, especially during an overdose.
In the most severe cases, a person can die or become strongly handicapped because of the damage caused by meth.
A person who has an addiction to this dangerous drug may have these symptoms and signs (although not limited to):
Withdrawal from methamphetamine can cause symptoms similar to those in withdrawal from other drugs, such as:
A primary concern of the withdrawal phase is the pseudo depressive state that occurs. At this point, the person may experience suicidal thoughts or have suicidal tendencies.
Because the sensation of hopelessness and negative emotions are intense, the risk of relapse is high. Medical attention must be given to a person who reports suicidal thoughts.
Additionally, there is a subacute phase of meth withdrawal. In this stage, a person’s cravings fade, and symptoms start improving. This means that sleep patterns are returning to normal, as well as their mood.
While the risk of relapse is still present, there is a higher chance of recovery if the person makes it this far. This particular phase lasts an estimated two weeks after the initial 7 to 10 days of recovery.
If you or a loved one have issues with methamphetamine abuse or addiction, do not wait to seek help. There are various treatment programs available, such as:
At the moment, no drugs are available to fight the effects of methamphetamines or those caused by long-term abstinence. There is, however, a promising method called MIEDAR (Motivation Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery). It comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and uses incentives to promote cocaine and methamphetamine abstinence.
You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.
McKetin, Rebecca, et al. “Methamphetamine Addiction.” Principles of Addiction, Academic Press, 15 Feb. 2013, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012398336700070X.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. "PubChem Compound Summary for CID 10836, Methamphetamine" PubChem, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Methamphetamine. Accessed 23 February, 2021.
NIDA. "What is the scope of methamphetamine misuse in the United States?." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 8 Apr. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states Accessed 23 Feb. 2021.
Recognizing a Meth Addict, The State of Nevada, ag.nv.gov/Hot_Topics/Issue/Meth_Addict/.
“Substance Use: Withdrawal from Methamphetamines.” MyHealth.Alberta.ca Government of Alberta Personal Health Portal, 29 Aug. 2019, https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Alberta/Pages/Methamphetamine-what-to-expect-when-someone-quits.aspx.
“What Treatments Are under Development for Methamphetamine Use and Addiction?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, 9 Apr. 2020, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-treatments-are-under-development-methamphetamine-use-addiction.