Meth remains one of the most widely used illegal drugs in California, across the United States, and around the world. Highly addictive, meth can result in some highly serious physical, mental, and emotional consequences. In the final analysis, people need to have a clear understanding of the dangers of meth use and addiction.
The Meth Rush
Meth users do share a number of things in common. Among them is their virtually universal response to the effects of methamphetamine. The extremely powerful rush that people get from using meth is profoundly “enjoyable.” The immediate, albeit relatively short-lived, feeling of pleasure is followed by a sense of euphoria that can last upwards of 12 hours. This occurs because meth floods a user’s brain with an incredible amount of dopamine.
Shorter-Term Consequences of Meth Abuse and Addiction
Drug addiction specialists, physicians, and other medical professionals have identified a set of short-term consequences of meth use. Unlike some mind-altering substances, this level of consequences take at least some period of time to develop. An alarming fact associated with meth is that a person can experience even the more serious of these short-term consequences even after using meth one time. The shorter-term consequences of meth use are:
- Loss of appetite
- Significant weight loss
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Severe mood swings
- Unpredictable behavior
- Elevated blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heart rhythm
Longer-Term Consequences of Meth Abuse and Addiction
The terms “shorter” and “longer” are relative. When considering meth use, shorter can mean immediately and longer can be shortly thereafter. In other words, the so-called longer-term effects of meth use can be experienced not long after a person starts using this mind-altering substance. The more commonly seen longer-term consequences of meth abuse and addiction are:
- More persistent psychotic symptoms- including delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations
- Increased mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and social isolation
- Confusion and odd behavior
- Feelings of bugs crawling on the skin
- Body sores from users picking at their skin
- Breathing problems associated with smoke inhalation
- Irreversible damage to blood vessels throughout the body, including the heart and brain
Dangers of Meth Usage Extend Beyond the User
When considering the dangers of meth use, it’s important to understand that the dangers associated with this drug extend beyond the body and mind of the user. Other dangers of meth use include:
- Crime victimization: Ultimately, many meth users turn to crime in order to support their addictions. Examples of crimes frequently committed by meth addicts include strong-arm robbery, home invasion, other types of theft, drug dealing, and prostitution.
- Meth contamination: A notable percentage of meth users smoke the drug. Ingesting the drug in this manner results in contamination of the premises where the activity occurs. Indeed, the level of meth contamination can prove to be severe in a relatively short period of time. Other individuals can then become exposed to the contamination. For example, if a meth user spent several days in a hotel or motel room (which is a commonplace practice), the next person who lodges in the space can be exposed to high levels of meth contamination and suffer health consequences as a result.
Quick Trip to Meth Addiction
Meth is one of the most addictive mind-altering substances in use today. The stark reality is that a person can become addicted to meth after one session of using the drug.
Because addiction can happen so rapidly, and be so strong, “kicking” meth can be a significant challenge. The recommended course for addressing a meth addiction is inpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment needs to begin with medically monitored detox. Withdrawal from meth can be physically, mentally, and emotionally hazardous.
Rapid Development of Meth Tolerance
As mentioned a moment ago, meth use involves flooding a person’s brain with copious amounts of dopamine. In very short order, swamping the brain negatively impacts dopamine receptors in a user’s brain. Indeed, dopamine receptors can end up damaged to the point that they do not function at all. There is scientific evidence in many cases when a person successfully stops using meth, over time dopamine receptors will heal and begin to function.
Due to the manner in which meth affects the brain, a user develops tolerance quite rapidly. As a result, a person needs to use more and more of the drug all of the time. This increase in the use of the drug increases the danger, hazards, and risks associated with meth addiction.
Signs That a Family Member, Friend, or Colleague Is Uses Meth
Because of the inherent and significant dangers associated with using meth, people from all walks of life are wise to familiarize themselves with the signs that a family member, friend, or colleague is using or addicted to the drug. The signs of meth use turning to addiction become more severe over time. When it comes to the sign of meth use, these symptoms can go from evident to severe in what amounts to a very short amount of time.
The most commonplace signs of meth use, abuse, and addiction include:
- Not caring about personal appearance or grooming
- Obsessively picking at skin or hair
- Loss of appetite and noticeable hair loss
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid eye movement
- Strange sleeping patterns (including staying awake for abnormal periods of time)
- Jerky, erratic movements
- Facial tics
- Animated or exaggerated mannerisms
- Constant talking
- Borrowing money often
- Selling possessions
- Angry outbursts
- Major mood swings
- Psychotic behavior, including paranoia as well as hallucinations