Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth is a powerful, very addictive drug. As a stimulant, it affects the central nervous systems and alters the brain chemistry. The drug takes the form of a white, somewhat transparent, and bitter-tasting powder. Meth can easily dissolve in alcohol and water
Street names of methamphetamine include:
- Crystal Meth
In the early 20th century, scientists develop methamphetamine based on its parent drug, amphetamine. Both drugs used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Like its parent drug, methamphetamine causes these side effects:
- extreme talkativeness
- increased activity of the users
- decreases appetite
- intense high or euphoric feelings
- repetitive motor activity
- changes in brain structure and function
- memory loss
- aggressive or violent behavior
- mood disturbances
- severe dental problems
- weight loss
Compare to amphetamine, methamphetamine can create more damage in the brain even in comparable doses, making meth a more powerful stimulant. The drug also produces more detrimental effects on the central nervous system. Meth also has a longer lasting effect which makes the drug with high potential for widespread abuse.
The Unites States Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA classified meth as a Schedule II stimulant. However, doctors can still prescribe the drug as a non-refillable prescription.
Medical use of meth
- used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD
- Short term weight loss management but are rarely prescribed
- Other weight management cases which other treatments failed
These medications are so rare, that the prescribed doses are smaller in number that those usually abused.
How Meth is used
Methamphetamine, as powerful stimulant comes in various forms and users either:
- Ingest the drug.
Depending on the geographical region, users have different ways of abusing meth. The trend continues to change as time goes by. The most common way of ingesting the drug is through smoking, according to Epidemiology Work Group or CEWG research data.
Smoking or injecting meth can reach the bloodstream and brain rapidly. This can cause an intense ‘rush’, increasing the drug’s addictive properties and other deadly health complications. Users described the immense ‘rush’ or ‘flash’ as exceptionally pleasurable to them. Similarly, snorting or orally ingesting the drug can also produce euphoria but not as intense.
How fast meth can act on the system
- Smoking or snorting meth can produce an intense high as little as 2 to 5 minutes.
- Oral ingestion takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Like most stimulants meth abuse is often described in a “binge and crash” usage pattern. Because meth is a short-acting drug, the euphoric feeling disappears even before the drug concentration in the blood ‘crash’, users take more of the drug to maintain the high feeling. In extreme cases, users take meth in a binging occasion referred to as a ‘run’. During this stage, users sacrifice food and sleep while continuing to take meth for several days.
Chances of drug overdose increase when users fall in this binging occasion. They take too much of the drug in a small span of time. This can create a toxic reaction that leads to serious, more detrimental effects on the users which often results to coma even death.
A drug overdose can lead to:
- heart attack,
- organ problems like kidney failure
Methamphetamine Abuse in the country
- The National Survey on Drug Use and Health or NSDUH survey in 2012, around 1.2 million people use meth in the past year.
- Almost 440,000 or .2 percent of people use the drug in the past month.
- However, meth abuse is on the decline in the past several years. In 2006, 731,000 people or .3 percent reported using meth in the previous month. This makes a difference of 291,000 people who stopped or discontinued to use meth over the years.
- In 2012, people ages 12 years old and older than to abuse meth. But the average age of use dropped drop, the youngest users in 2012 were 19.7 years old.
- According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network or DAWN, methamphetamine use accounted for 103,000 emergency visits in 2011.
- Meth ranks as the fourth most abuse drug for emergency visits following marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Even though the numbers are still staggering, it shows a drop in numbers from 132,576 cases in 2004.
- Male users the drug more often compare to female, with 53 percent and about 68 percent were profiled as non-Hispanic white people.
Even though meth abuse shows declining trends, misuse of the drug still continues and varies regional areas. The most affected area seen in the West and Midwest based on the study of National Institute on Drug Abuse of NIDA. In 2012, methamphetamine ranks as the top most drug-related admission treatment in Hawaii and San Diego. San Francisco, Denver, and Phoenix rank second and third in meth admissions cases.
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