Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is an illegal substance commonly abused. In this blog of our Substance Abuse 101 series, we're going to to talk about what meth is, its health effects, and why it is an abused substance.
What is Meth?
Meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug, that often comes in the form of white powder, or white or blue crystals. Meth can be consumed in a number of ways: inhalation/smoking; swallowing (pill); snorting; or through injection.
The high people using meth experience takes effect quickly and is brief, causing some people to binge use the drug. When consuming the drug, users experience some of the following:
- Increased wakefulness and physical activity
- Decreased appetite
- Faster breathing
- Irregular/rapid heart beat
- Increased blood pressure and body temperature
What are Some Long-Term Health Effects of Meth?
Long-term use of methamphetamine has a number of negative and harmful health effects:
- Changes in the brain's dopamine system, leading to reduced coordination and impaired verbal learning
- Problems with memory and emotion
- Increased risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C due to needle use and sharing of needles
- Extreme weight loss
- Severe dental problems
- Intense itching, often leading to skin sores from scratching
- Sleeping problems
- Violent behavior
- Paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
- Hallucinations—sensations and images that seem real though they aren't
How Does Meth Affect the Brain?
Methamphetamine increases the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. The drug’s ability to rapidly release high levels of dopamine in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug-taking behavior, making the user want to repeat the experience.
Why Meth is a Problem: Statistics
Although other drugs have increased in being used, methamphetamine still poses a huge health risk. According to U.S. Department of Justice’s 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment:
- 897,000 people 12 and older currently use meth
- 225,000 people began using meth in 2015 alone
- Meth addiction treatment admissions rose 3 percent from 2014 to 2015
- 135,264 people got treatment for meth addiction in publicly-funded facilities in 2015
- 85-90 percent of stimulant-related drug deaths involve meth
- 5,716 people died as a result of stimulant overdose in 2015
- Stimulant-related deaths rates rose 225 percent between 2005 and 2015
How Apicha CHC Can Help
If you struggle with substance abuse and addiction, Apicha CHC can help. Talking about substance abuse and, when necessary, working together to create an action plan is part of standard care at Apicha CHC. If you'd like to schedule an appointment, click the link below.