Methamphetamine: just the word is enough to conjure thoughts of gaunt cheeks, rotting teeth, and suffering. Ask the average person what they think is the worst illicit substance to which someone can be addicted, and it’s likely meth will be relatively high on the list. The effects of methamphetamine abuse can be drastic, especially physically, leading to social stigmatization and shame.
Everyone deserves to chance to live a happy, fulfilling life; it’s right there in the American Constitution: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That in itself should be enough reason to address substance abuse disorders as a public health concern, increasing public access to rehabilitation services and ending the stigmas which often stand between those living with addiction and the help they need.
To get there, we must understand what substance abuse is- how these illicit drugs- legal and otherwise- affect the mind and body, why it is so difficult to “just stop”, and what it takes to overcome addiction and live free of those chains. If we’re going to do that, we have to tackle even the most intimidating of addictive substances: meth.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant which causes surges of dopamine in the brain and central nervous system, much like cocaine and Ecstasy. Unlike those substances, however, meth has a much longer time-release; effects can last anywhere from six to 12 hours on a single dose.
Among the most startling side effects of meth abuse are two physical changes brought on by malnutrition: “meth mouth” and “meth mites”– the colloquial terms for the tooth decay and skin sores often attributed to meth addiction. People with meth abuse disorders are also more likely to contract diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS due to use of contaminated needles.
Other side effects?
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Loss of appetite
- Sensitivity to light
- Mood swings
- Decline in personal hygiene
- Skin picking due to skin crawling sensation
- Breathing problems associated with snorting
What’s the Difference? Meth Vs. Crystal Meth
Just as when we covered cocaine and crack cocaine, these two substances are one in the same, simply in different forms. While what is often simply known as meth, the glassy, rock-like form is often known as crystal meth, or ice. Meth can be snorted, injected, or smoked, with each method of use affecting the longevity of it’s effect. The most current statistics suggest that smoking is the most common method of use, with meth users becoming quite inventive in acquiring vessels. Such creative drug use paraphernalia include:
- Soda cans
- Tin foil
- Light bulbs
- Vape pens
Regardless of it’s form, meth and meth abuse is among the most destructive, life-altering, and life-threatening substances affecting our families and communities today.
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