Meth Addiction

What is meth? Knowing what the substance is made of and how it can impact your health is important for many reasons.
What is Meth

Meth Addiction

What is meth? Knowing what the substance is made of and how it can impact your health is important for many reasons.

Table of Contents

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth, is a Schedule II stimulant drug that was originally created for use as a nasal decongestant and bronchial inhaler. Methamphetamine directly affects the body’s central nervous system and creates feelings of intense euphoria in those that use it.
Because of this, methamphetamine is a highly restricted drug that can only be obtained legally through a non-refillable prescription provided by a licensed physician.1

Origin of Methamphetamine

Amphetamine, methamphetamine’s parent drug, was first created in 1887 in Germany, but it was not widely used as a medication for asthma, bronchitis, and other upper respiratory conditions until the 1920s when it was made available in America.Methamphetamine, on the other hand, was created in Japan in 1919, although it was not widely used until World War II. At this time, it was primarily used by soldiers on both sides to suppress their appetites and reduce the symptoms of fatigue.2

Since then, methamphetamine has become a commonly misused drug, as it has become relatively easy for many people to manufacture it in large quantities.

What is Meth Like?

Meth takes the form of a clear to white, odorless, crystal-shaped powder that can be dissolved in water or alcohol. Because of its crystalline appearance, it is sometimes referred to as crystal meth.

When dissolved in water or alcohol, meth can then be injected directly into the bloodstream. This allows it to be quickly absorbed into the central nervous system. Meth is considered to be long-lasting compared to other recreational drugs, such as cocaine.

What is Crystal Meth?

Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference. Crystal meth is a distilled, more potent form of meth that can increase someone’s misuse. Because of its extreme potency, the high lasts for much longer than normal, and the risk of overdose is significantly higher as well.

What Is Meth Used for?

Although meth is most commonly used recreationally, there are still a few medical uses for the substance as well.

Medical Uses of Meth

Of these medical uses, the most common use is as a secondary treatment option for ADHD. It has also been approved for use in obesity treatment, both under the drug name Desoxyn. At times, it may also be prescribed off-label for cases of narcolepsy.
In all of these cases, however, Desoxyn has the potential for severe and potentially life-threatening side effects. This drug is typically only prescribed as a last resort treatment option and then only for a short time period.3

How Else Is Meth Used?

While medical meth only comes in the pill form Desoxyn, street meth can come in many forms. Most commonly it is snorted as a powder, or mixed with water or alcohol and injected intravenously.

Other times, the powder will be formed into a “rock” which will then be smoked or, in some cases, eaten.

Different Street Names for Meth

There are several street names for meth including but not limited to:4
  • Meth
  • Speed
  • Ice
  • Shards
  • Biker’s Coffee
  • Stove Top
  • Tweak
  • Crystal
  • Crank
  • The names that meth goes by differ drastically depending on the geographical location that it is present in.

    What Are the Side Effects of Meth Use?

    Meth increases the amount of dopamine in the brain while simultaneously increasing the user’s blood pressure and heart rates. Meth substance abuse symptoms and side effects can occur with the first use of the drug, and they will continue to worsen the longer that a person uses the drug.

    Short-Term Side Effects

    Side effects from meth use can occur on the first use and even with very small doses. These short-term side effects include:
    • Rapid breathing
    • Increased or rapid heart rate
    • Irregular heart rate
    • Increased blood pressure and body temperature
    • Nausea and loss of appetite
    • Inhibited sleep or disrupted sleep patterns
    • Erratic, aggressive, or violent behavior

    Long-Term Side Effects

    Long-term side effects occur when meth use has become chronic, and the side effects can remain for months, years, or for life even after stopping use. These long-term side effects include both physical health risks as well as mental health risks:5
    • Severe damage to the coronary system and brain
    • High blood pressure that can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death
    • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
    • Anxiety
    • Confusion
    • Insomnia
    • Paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations
    • Mood disturbances
    • Violent behaviors that can last for months or years
    • Itching resulting in severe sores
    • Osteoporosis, which can lead to severe dental problems

    What is Meth Cut With?

    Side effects of meth can be significantly worse when the meth is cut or mixed with another illicit substance. Meth is sometimes cut with other drugs or dangerous substances so that the effects of the meth are more potent.
    More commonly, however, meth is cut with common household items that have little to no effect on the drug. This is mainly done to reduce the amount of actual meth that the drug dealer is selling so that they can maximize their profit.

    Can Cutting Meth Increase Risk of Overdose?

    Cutting meth is an unfortunately extremely common practice, which leads to a large number of overdoses. Meth is frequently cut with household items like baby powder, sugar, and baking soda. More illicit substances that meth is cut with include fentanyl, Ritalin, and Adderall.
    It can be difficult to determine if meth has been cut with anything, as many of the cutting agents are the same color and consistency of the meth itself.

    Understanding Meth Addiction

    Meth abuse and addiction occurs as a result of the significant physical and mental toll that methamphetamines take on the body. As with most drugs, one of the first and most common symptoms of addiction is that the user no longer has an interest in doing the things that once mattered to them.
    Many people use meth for the first time because they are bored, depressed, or are at a low point in their life. Meth produces dopamine in the brain which causes feelings of euphoria, and because the stimulant is so addictive, it can cause addiction in as little as one use.

    Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

    There are both physical signs and behavioral signs of meth substance abuse disorder to watch out for. Some of the most common meth addiction signs include:

    • Paranoia
    • Hyperactivity
    • Dilated pupils
    • Rotting teeth
    • Skin sores
    • Extreme weight loss
    • Agitation or aggression
    Another very prominent sign of meth addiction is called “tweaking,” which is an extended period of hyperactivity, anxiety, insomnia, and paranoia that occurs as the user comes down from a high. This can last anywhere from three to fifteen days.6

    Meth Overdose and Withdrawal

    Meth abuse frequently leads to overdose. Because the drug is so potent and it affects the brain and central nervous system so rapidly, those who use meth do not have to use it frequently or over a long period of time for an overdose to occur.
    One of the main reasons that this happens is because meth is an uncontrolled and illegal substance, so there is no way to be sure of what is actually in it at any given time.

    Meth Overdose Signs

    It is important to get immediate medical help for anyone that you suspect may be experiencing symptoms of a meth overdose. Some of the signs of danger are:
    • Trouble breathing
    • Signs of a heart attack or stroke
    • Seizures
    • A sudden plummeting in heart rate or blood pressure
    • A fever
    • Severe stomach pain
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Sudden violent or paranoid behavior

    Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

    Because meth is such a potent drug, meth withdrawal symptoms are severe and can be dangerous. It is recommended to undergo medical detox to help with the most severe of the symptoms in a safe manner. These symptoms can include:

    • Dehydration
    • Headaches
    • Muscle pain and spasms
    • Appetite changes
    • Intense cravings
    • Psychosis
    • Fatigue
    • Anxiety
    • Insomnia or irregular sleep
    • Depression
    • Cognitive issues
    what is meth

    Treatment for Meth Addiction

    It is important to know that meth addiction recovery is possible. Meth abuse or meth addiction rehab almost always begins with medically supervised detox, and then other services are offered depending on what the patient’s needs are.

    Meth Addiction Treatment Options

    There are several options available for those who are seeking meth addiction treatment, such as:
    • Medically assisted detox from meth
    • Medication
    • Therapy
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    • The Matrix Model
    • Contingency Management Intervention
    • 12-step programs

    Get Help for Meth Addiction at Arrow Passage Recovery

    Our meth addiction treatment program at Arrow Passage Recovery prides itself on its ability to create a unique and effective treatment program for everyone that we work with. We will be with you every step of the way during your or your loved one’s recovery. Please contact us today if you have any questions or want to get started in the recovery process.

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