Meth Abuse Fast Facts

Get the 411 on meth abuse and addiction

Methamphetamine is a drug that is created using a combination of chemicals that include amphetamines, including the stimulants present in cough medicine. However, the "cooks" of meth will also add in strong chemicals never intended for human consumption, including drain cleaner, anti-freeze, and battery acid. When smoked, snorted, or injected, the drug is subject to meth abuse and addiction. The following are some fast facts about methamphetamine abuse that illustrate the importance of quitting meth abuse and addiction.

Meth Abuse Increases the Amount of Dopamine in the Brain

When a person abuses meth, the chemicals in the drug stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for sending messages to the brain about feelings, such as pleasure, pain, and/or fear. Meth specifically stimulates dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for creating feelings of pleasure. These feelings often occur in a big rush, known as "euphoria." Using methamphetamine also increases the amount of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin in the body.

Millions of Americans Have Tried Meth

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, an estimated 11 million Americans have tried meth in their lifetime. An estimated 0.3 percent of the American population abuses meth on a monthly basis. While this number may sound small, having even one meth user can be too much because of the deadly effects of the drug.

Meth has been an illegal drug to use since 1971, when the United States Congress passed an act that made methamphetamine a Schedule II drug, meaning it is highly addictive.

A Person Can Overdose on Meth

A common misconception about meth abuse is that it does not cause overdose and death. The opposite is true. A person can overdose on methamphetamine. Using too much of the drug at one time can lead to a number of deadly health problems. These include heart attack, stroke, and organ failure. If a person doesn't seek immediate medical treatment, they could die from any or all of these conditions.

Meth Abuse Has Short- and Long-Term Health Effects

Even if meth addiction does not cause immediate death, it can cause short- and long-term health problems that will lead to an early death if a person does not seek treatment. In the short-term, meth abuse effects include high blood pressure, increased body temperature, malnutrition due to decreased appetite, and staying awake for days at a time, which can lead to exhaustion.

The long-term health effects include increased risk for contracting intravenous-related diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis. A person can also experience violent behavior, severe paranoia, mouth and skin sores, and severe infections of the heart known as endocarditis.

Treatment Can Help

When a person suffers from methamphetamine abuse, there are treatments available that can help a person overcome their addiction. If a person wishes to quit using meth, they can choose a medical detox program. This involves going to an inpatient treatment facility and stopping taking meth. A person will experience some withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, and depression. Unfortunately, methamphetamine withdrawals are associated with causing severe depression when a person stops taking the drug. This could cause a person to contemplate self-harm, such as suicide. For this reason, it is important that a person seek professional treatment to ensure they do not harm themselves. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, an estimated 87 percent of people who have used meth on a long-term basis will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Additional approaches to helping a person break the mental hold that meth addiction has on them. Examples include cognitive-behavioral techniques that help a person recognize and correct behaviors that are keeping a person addicted.

Methamphetamine is a deadly drug to abuse, and it can be difficult to quit without professional medical help. For more information on strategies and professional programs to quit, please call Drug Treatment Centers Pittsburgh at 412.235.2317.

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