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Signs of methamphetamine addiction and abuse
Effects of methamphetamine addiction
A methamphetamine-induced "high" artificially boosts self-confidence, many users are overcome by a so-called "superman syndrome." In this state, methamphetamine abusers ignore their physical limitations and try to do things which they are normally incapable of performing. Meth is highly addictive because people often continue using the drug to avoid an inevitable crash that comes when the drugs' positive effects begin to wear off. Even first-time users experience many of meth's negative effects.
Methamphetamine's negative effects include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Visual hallucinations
- Auditory hallucinations (hearing "voices")
- Suicidal tendencies
- Suspiciousness, severe paranoia
- Shortness of breath
- Increased blood pressure
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Long periods of sleep ("crashing" for 24-48 hours or more)
- Prolonged sluggishness, severe depression
- Weight loss, malnutrition, anorexia
- Itching (illusion that bugs are crawling on the skin)
- Welts on the skin
- Involuntary body movements
- Paranoid delusions
Severe amphetamine induced depression and/or psychosis
Methamphetamine stimulates the central nervous system, causing chemical reactions in the brain and tricking the body into believing it has unlimited energy supplies and draining energy reserves needed in other parts of the body. This is why meth addicts tend to stay awake for long periods of time and then eventually crash, feeling tired, depressed and much worse than they did before they took the drug. Chemical imbalances in the brain and sleep deprivation commonly associated with continued meth use result in hallucinations, extreme paranoia and often bizarre, violent behavior.
Meth causes extensive damage to the body, and can cause death or permanent physical damage.
Physiological effects of methamphetamine use include:
Similar to other drug substances, smoking and inhaling meth damages the lungs and nasal passages, and intravenous use can lead to spread of the AIDS virus.
- abnormally high blood pressure
- rapid and irregular heart rate and rhythm
- damage to blood vessels in the brain (stroke)
- accumulation of excess fluid in lungs, brain tissue and skull
- continuous/excessive dilation of the pupils
- impaired regulation of heat loss
- hyperpyrexia (body temperatures higher than 104°)
- internal bleeding; damage to other organs caused by disruption of blood flow
- and breakdown of muscle tissue leading to kidney failure
The drug appeals to the abuser because it increases the body's metabolism and produces euphoria, alertness, and gives the abuser a sense of increased energy. But high doses or chronic use of meth, also known as "speed," "crank," and "ice," increases nervousness, irritability, and paranoia.
Short-term (immediate) effects of methamphetamine use
As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. A brief, intense sensation, or rush, is reported by those who smoke or inject methamphetamine. Oral ingestion or snorting produces a long-lasting high instead of a rush, which reportedly can continue for as long as half a day. Both the rush and the high are believed to result from the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure.
Short-term effects of methamphetamine:
Methamphetamine has toxic effects. In animals, a single high dose of the drug has been shown to damage nerve terminals in the dopamine-containing regions of the brain. The large release of dopamine produced by methamphetamine is thought to contribute to the drug's toxic effects on nerve terminals in the brain. High doses can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels, as well as cause convulsions.
- increased attention
- decreased fatigue
- increased activity
- decreased appetite
- euphoria and rush
- increased respiration
Long-term effects of methamphetamine use
Long-term methamphetamine abuse results in many damaging effects, including addiction. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition, characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and drug use which is accompanied by functional and molecular changes in the brain. In addition to being addicted to methamphetamine, chronic methamphetamine abusers exhibit symptoms that can include violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. They also can display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping on the skin, called "formication"). The paranoia can result in homicidal as well as suicidal thoughts.
Long-term effects of methamphetamine:
With chronic use, tolerance for methamphetamine can develop. In an effort to intensify the desired effects, users may take higher doses of the drug, take it more frequently, or change their method of drug intake. In some cases, abusers forego food and sleep while indulging in a form of binging known as a "run," injecting as much as a gram of the drug every 2 to 3 hours over several days until the user runs out of the drug or is too disorganized to continue. Chronic abuse can lead to psychotic behavior, characterized by intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and out-of-control rages that can be coupled with extremely violent behavior.
- addiction psychosis
- mood disturbances
- repetitive motor activity
- weight loss
Although there are no physical manifestations of a withdrawal syndrome when methamphetamine use is stopped, there are several symptoms that occur when a chronic user stops taking the drug. These include depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and an intense craving for the drug.
In scientific studies examining the consequences of long-term methamphetamine exposure in animals, concern has arisen over its toxic effects on the brain. Researchers have reported that as much as 50 percent of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain can be damaged after prolonged exposure to relatively low levels of methamphetamine. Researchers also have found that serotonin-containing nerve cells may be damaged even more extensively. Whether this toxicity is related to the psychosis seen in some long-term methamphetamine abusers is still an open question.
Medical complications of methamphetamine use
Methamphetamine can cause a variety of cardiovascular problems. These include rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and irreversible, stroke-producing damage to small blood vessels in the brain. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions occur with methamphetamine overdoses, and if not treated immediately, can result in death.
Chronic methamphetamine abuse can result in inflammation of the heart lining, and among users who inject the drug, damaged blood vessels and skin abscesses. Methamphetamine abusers also can have episodes of violent behavior, paranoia, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia. Heavy users also show progressive social and occupational deterioration. Psychotic symptoms can sometimes persist for months or years after use has ceased.
Acute lead poisoning is another potential risk for methamphetamine abusers. A common method of illegal methamphetamine production uses lead acetate as a reagent. Production errors may therefore result in methamphetamine contaminated with lead. There have been documented cases of acute lead poisoning in intravenous methamphetamine abusers.
Fetal exposure to methamphetamine also is a significant problem in the United States. At present, research indicates that methamphetamine abuse during pregnancy may result in prenatal complications, increased rates of premature delivery, and altered neonatal behavioral patterns, such as abnormal reflexes and extreme irritability. Methamphetamine abuse during pregnancy may be linked also to congenital deformities.
Methamphetamine addiction treatment programs
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug. Recovery and rehabilitation from methamphetamine addiction may require a treatment program ranging from certified addiction counseling to treatment at a residential alcohol and drug rehab center, depending on the extent of the addiction and a number of other factors.
Call our admissions counselors, toll free, at 1-877-465-8080 for more information on treatment program options.