Methamphetamine Meth Substance Abuse Overview

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is similar in structure to amphetamine. It is long lasting and toxic to dopamine nerve terminals in the central nervous system. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder taken orally or by snorting or injecting, or a rock “crystal” that is heated and smoked.

Due to its high potential for abuse, Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. Although Methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor, its medical uses are limited, and the doses that are prescribed are much lower than those typically abused.Most of the Methamphetamine abused in this country comes from foreign or domestic superlabs, although it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories, where its production endangers the people in the labs, neighbors, and the environment.

Street Names

  •     Beannies
  •     Chalk
  •     Chicken Feed
  •     Crystal Meth
  •     FastGlass
  •     Ice
  •     Granulated Orange
  •     Load of Laundry
  •     MethPinkPoor Man’s Coke
  •     Redneck Cocaine
  •     SpeedSpeckled Birds
  •     Trash
  •     Wash

Short-term Effects of Methamphetamine

  •     Increases wakefulness and physical activity
  •     Produces rapid/irregular heart rate
  •     Increases blood pressure and body temperature

Long-term use can lead to:   

  • Mood disturbance
  • Violent behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Severe dental problems

All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

What Does Methamphetamine do to the Brain?

Methamphetamine increases the release and blocks the re-uptake of the brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) dopamine, leading to high levels of the chemical in the brain, a common mechanism of action for most drugs of abuse. Dopamine is involved in reward, motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function. Methamphetamine’s ability to rapidly release dopamine in reward regions of the brain produces the intense euphoria, or “rush,” that many users feel after snorting, smoking, or injecting the drug.

Chronic methamphetamine abuse significantly changes how the brain functions. Noninvasive human brain imaging studies have shown alterations in the activity of the dopamine system that are associated with reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning.1 Recent studies in chronic methamphetamine abusers have also revealed severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory,2,3 which may account for many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic methamphetamine abusers.

Repeated methamphetamine abuse can also lead to addiction—a chronic, relapsing disease, characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, which is accompanied by chemical and molecular changes in the brain. Some of these changes persist long after methamphetamine abuse is stopped. Reversal of some of the changes, however, may be observed after sustained periods of abstinence (e.g., more than 1 year).

What Other Adverse Effects Does Methamphetamine Have on Health?

Taking even small amounts of Methamphetamine can result in many of the same physical effects of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines, including increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and Hyperthermia.

Long-term Methamphetamine abuse has many negative health consequences, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Chronic methamphetamine abusers can also display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling under the skin).

Transmission of HIV and hepatitis B and C can be consequences of methamphetamine abuse. The intoxicating effects of methamphetamine, regardless of how it is taken, can also alter judgment and inhibition and lead people to engage in unsafe behaviors, including risky sexual behavior. Among abusers who inject the drug, HIV and other infectious diseases can be spread through contaminated needles, syringes, and other injection equipment that is used by more than one person. Methamphetamine abuse may also worsen the progression of HIV and its consequences. Studies of methamphetamine abusers who are HIV-positive indicate that HIV causes greater neuronal injury and cognitive impairment for individuals in this group compared with HIV-positive people who do not use the drug.

Treatment for Teen Meth Methamphetamine Abuse

All addictions, including Meth, require therapeutic treatment and at times, even psychological help; that’s what we’re here for. We understand what you are going through as a parent and we care about the future of your teen. Our gender based treatment program includes family therapy, music and art therapy, psychotherapy and recreational therapy. Along with the proper care from licensed, in-house therapists and a superior team of psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses, we are confident that our Meth rehab can be a step in the right direction for you and your teen.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit: http://www.nida.nih.gov