In today’s post, we’ll explore methamphetamine, or meth, a drug that over 1.5 million Americans admit to using. So, is it like cocaine or other stimulants? They’re both white powder, right?
Not exactly. Both meth and cocaine are stimulants, but they are two different drugs with different short- and long-term effects. And although cocaine and meth can both come in white and scentless powder that can be dissolved in liquid, meth is often a bitter-tasting crystalline powder.
Ultimately, what sets this drug apart from other stimulants like coke, Adderall or dieting pills is the body’s processing time when metabolizing meth. Very simply, meth remains in the brain much longer than other drugs, offering more opportunity for brain damage or negative physical effects.
In different social groups, methamphetamine may be referred to as any of the following:
- Ice, Crystal or Glass
Meth belongs to the amphetamine drug class. Amphetamines affect the central nervous system.
What makes meth so desirable?
Methamphetamine’s claim to notoriety would probably be its potential for abuse; it may have the greatest abuse potential of all amphetamines. The potential is so great due to its chemical structure. In a neurological sense, its effect is very similar to dopamine. Dopamine is the brain chemical involved in feelings of pleasure and happiness.
Additionally, there are a myriad of ways to consume it. Users can ingest it orally, nasally (snorting), or intravenously (via needle). People can also smoke meth. Smoking meth creates a substantial, long-lasting high.
How does meth affect a person?
Methamphetamine is man-made. In the medical world, methamphetamine actually has some beneficial qualities and combined with other chemicals, may be prescribed by a doctor to treat a patient’s ADHD, obesity, or narcolepsy.
When used illegally and recreationally, there are an array of effects and consequences that come with meth. Generally, people find that when on this drug for a short time, they experience:
- Enormous amounts of energy that lead to manic cleaning, exercise, or other physical activity
- Reduced appetite
- Enhanced mood
However, with long-term use, people begin to experience high levels of paranoia, psychosis, and hallucinations. At the same time, people may report any of the following secondary effects of methamphetamine:
- Repeating the same physical movements over and over again
- Nerve cell damage
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Drastic weight loss
All of these effects, both short- and long-term, put ample strain on the nervous and cardiovascular systems. In short, meth is incredibly hard on the body and, most importantly, on the brain.
In the article “The Madness of Meth” in Psychology Today, one drug-abuse counselor tells the story of a former patient who admitted to completely losing touch with reality during his methamphetamine addiction. He bounced between activities in his house–from cleaning incessantly, to exercising, to glancing out his window every so often to check for any police or monkeys. Yes, monkeys.
He had convinced himself there were swarms of monkeys living in the trees beside his home.
What the counselor noted most obviously was his extreme hyperactivity and relentless paranoia. Later, while recovering, the patient recounted these meth binges and salivated and panted with the desire to use again.
Meth is highly addictive and attractive to our brain’s reward system. For these reasons, it’s very dangerous.
So, where in the country are people using meth?
Although anyone can find meth anywhere in the United States, most of its users live in the west and midwest. Washington, Colorado, and Texas have seen substantial increases in meth usage since 2017.
Why is meth usage increasing in these areas?
Much of the meth in the southern and southwestern states arrives with an element called phenyl-2-propanone (P2P). P2P is an ingredient used mainly by Mexican drug cartels that traffic meth throughout these regions. P2P creates a greater high, and, therefore, a higher chance of addiction. Meth found in Texas, which shares a border with Mexico, carries P2P as an essential component. Subsequently, due to Texas’ proximity to Mexico, the meth found there seems to be more potent.
At Great Oaks Recovery Center, in Lubbock, TX, we understand perhaps more than anyone the significance of the meth issue in our state.
We understand that the meth detoxification process can be difficult, as it may include any of the following symptoms after about a day of not using meth:
- Carb/meth cravings
- Extreme fatigue
It takes about 50 hours or two days to eliminate all meth from a person’s body, but withdrawal symptoms may last upwards of five weeks.
At Great Oaks, we are prepared to support our clients through meth detox and withdrawal and to provide, via our residential program, everything they may need on their journey to independence and sobriety.