Health risks of certain drugs – Part 4: Ingesting meth
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleep disorders. However, it becomes dangerous when one abuses it. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 5.40 percent Americans aged 12 years or older abuse methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime, including 0.30 percent current users (those who reported using the drug in the past month). The prevalence of methamphetamine use was quite high at 3.30 percent in people between 18 and 25 years and 0.30 percent in case of adolescents (aged 12 to 17 years) who reportedly used the drug for non-medical purposes.
There are various ways of administering this powerful drug – injecting, smoking or insufflations. The route of administration of the drug determines how much time meth takes to affect the brain and the central nervous system. Intravenously injecting the drug delivers the desired results almost immediately, followed by smoking and snorting. The effect usually lasts for anywhere between eight and 12 hours. On the contrary, people orally ingesting meth need to wait for about 20 minutes to get the high. But in this case, the effect lasts for anywhere from eight to 24 hours.
Dangers of oral ingestion of meth
A white bitter-tasting powder or a pill, methamphetamine abuse can be risky, dangerous and even fatal, with adverse effects ranging from mild to disastrous. Methamphetamine increases the secretion of dopamine, a chemical in the brain responsible for functions like body movement, motivation, pleasure and reward. The drug is abused to feel the sense of pleasure, the rush or flash, it delivers to the user, induced by an increase in dopamine level.
The immediate effects of meth use include breathlessness, decreased appetite, rapid and/or irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure and body temperature levels, and increased wakefulness and physical activity. Some of the long-terms effects of methamphetamine use include extreme weight loss, intense itching leading to skin sores, severe dental problems, anxiety, violent behavior, confusion, anxiety, sleeping disorder and hallucinations (seeing and feeling unreal visuals)
In addition, persistent use of methamphetamine might cause alterations in the brain’s dopamine system, thereby, leading to reduced coordination and impaired verbal learning in addition to other emotional and cognitive problems. Some of these changes in the brain structure may reverse on quitting the drug within a year or more, but some may not reverse even after discontinuing the drug for a long time.
According to a recent study, published in the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN), low dopamine level in people using methamphetamine for longer period may be associated with the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease, a nerve disorder that affects movement. Methamphetamine use might adversely affect the progression of HIV/AIDS and its consequences. Methamphetamine is known to aggravate the damage the HIV causes to nerve cells. It affects thinking, learning and remembering abilities of the user. Meth is addictive and if stopped abruptly, it can produce withdrawal symptoms, characterized by anxiety, drug cravings, severe depression, fatigue, psychosis and increased sleeping and eating.
Route to recovery
Timely treatment of methamphetamine can save lives from immense trauma and suffering. The most effective available treatment options include a holistic administration of detox, psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), experiential therapies like yoga and strategies for recovery management. If you or a loved one is battling drug addiction, contact the Texas Drug Addiction Treatment to know about various drug addiction treatment centers in Texas. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-5757 or chat online for more information. One should not delay treatment or the situation can get out of hand.
Read the other parts of the series “Health risks of certain drugs:”
Part 1: Marijuana
Part 2: Snorting cocaine
Part 3: Shooting heroin