Methamphetamine or “meth” is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant drug. It is colloquially known as meth, crystal, crystal meth, ice and batu (in Hawaii). Meth takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water. It is typically consumed via smoking into the lungs, snorting into the nasal cavity, or injected into the veins. Those who abuse methamphetamine often need a meth rehab center to treat the underlying issues that motivate self-destructive behaviors.
Methamphetamine is a “neurotoxin” and as such is destructive to nerve tissue. Scientific research shows us that methamphetamine abuse causes extensive neurological damage across the Central Nervous System. Methamphetamine related nerve damage is commonly associated with persistent forms of cognitive impairment. The greatest impact on brain function is observed as weakness in mental skills and more specifically as deficits in attention, memory and learning.
Methamphetamine is also classified as a “psychomotor stimulant” because it increases physiological activity. Meth abuse causes hyper-alertness, over-confidence, talkativeness, increased activity, decreased appetite and euphoria. Methamphetamine differs from its parent drug amphetamine in that, at comparable doses, much greater amounts of methamphetamine gets into the brain, making it a much more potent drug than amphetamine.
Methamphetamine and other stimulant drugs tend to increase libido, which means that methamphetamine abuse is often associated with risky sexual behavior. Paradoxically, long-term methamphetamine abuse is often associated with decreased sexual function, especially in men.
Methamphetamine abuse results in many destructive side effects, including aggression, violent behavior, paranoia, insomnia and addiction. High dose abusers often display mood disturbances, mistrust psychotic behavior, auditory hallucinations and delusions.
Methamphetamine produces intoxication by causing a buildup of dopamine across the synapse cleft. The more dopamine that builds up the more dopamine available for post synaptic receptors. The more dopamine absorbed by post synaptic receptors increases the overall drug effects which are typically intense pleasure (euphoria) but also drug craving.
Methamphetamine’s addiction liability refers to its tendency to produce addiction. The likelihood that methamphetamine abuse will lead to addiction is linked to the speed with which methamphetamine gets into the brain, the amount of dopamine produced and the reliability that methamphetamine will produce a drug effect. In the case of methamphetamine, we know it crosses the blood brain barrier very quickly, produces copious amounts of dopamine and works nearly 100% of the time. This means that methamphetamine abuse is very likely to lead to addiction.
Meth addiction is defined as compulsive drug seeking and using behaviors, despite harmful personal consequences. In all cases of habitual methamphetamine addiction the body builds up tolerance to both methamphetamine and to dopamine. Over time a methamphetamine addict must use larger and larger amounts of methamphetamine to achieve the same intensity of effect (methamphetamine tolerance).
Men and women suffering with methamphetamine toxicity can become extremely agitated, impulsive, irrational, paranoid and psychotic. Toxicity can lead to a person behaving in an uncontrolled, aggressive and/or violent manner.
Meth addiction treatment is very complex and must be individualized for each patient. Mental health disorders are frequently present among meth abusers, which makes treatment more complex. A common problem is that meth addicts are misdiagnosed. Treatment providers must determine if the current mental health issue is drug induced, or not, and the severity and duration of any mental health needs. Oftentimes, prolonged detoxification is necessary in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
Amphetamine (C9H13N) is a Central Nervous System stimulant and appetite suppressant.
Methamphetamine (C10H15N) is an extremely addictive stimulant drug that is chemically similar to amphetamine.
Tenacious and compulsive seeking or using of methamphetamine despite harmful consequences.
The microscopic space, approximately 10-20 nm wide, that separates the presynaptic neuron (axon) and the postsynaptic cell (dendrite). Nerve impulses are transmitted across the synapse cleft by neurotransmitters such as dopamine.
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