While it is not true that every time an individual ingests some type of drug substance they will automatically suffer from substance abuse or addiction problems, it is also true that there are certain drug substances that are more dangerous than others. Methamphetamine is one of the more dangerous drug substances currently available.
Most individuals turn to drug use when they have encountered some physical, mental or emotional problem in their life for which they have no other solution. What most individuals fail to realize is that drug substances cannot solve the problems for which they are taken, and normally create a host of new problems that are far more devastating to the individual’s health and life. Unfortunately, the way that drug substances interfere with the normal functions of the brain and body can affect the individual’s ability to fully recognize the damaging effects of drug use.
Drug substances cannot solve the problems for which they are taken, but they can offer temporary relief to the individual by suppressing the undesirable symptoms of a problem, including physical pain and stress. Furthermore, most drug substances stimulate desirable sensations, and it is for this reason that many individuals will continue their drug use after the initial “hit”. Over time, tolerance of drug chemicals means that the individual no longer experiences the same desirable effects of drug use as they once did, and the individual is driven to use greater quantities of the drug, or more powerful drug substances, in order to recreate the desirable sensations.
An individual becomes a drug addict when they compulsively continue to use drug substances, despite the many damaging effects drugs have on their health, relationships and life. Many drug addicts suffer from drug dependence, wherein the body has become so used to drug chemicals interfering with its normal operation that it now depends upon them for normal operation. A drop in drug levels in the body often causes the individual to experience uncomfortable or painful withdrawal symptoms, which essentially force the individual to continue their drug use.
Individuals who are suffering from substance abuse and addiction problems are often so focused on the goal of achieving and maintaining their drug high that every thought and action revolves around obtaining, using and recovering from drug substances. It is for this reason that drug abusers and addicts are often in denial about their drug problems – they simply cannot see them or they refuse to acknowledge them for what they are. When one is considering the complex problems of drug abuse and addiction, it is the more potent and addictive substances that often create the biggest problems. Methamphetamine is one of these substances.
Methamphetamine is a man-made, extremely addictive drug substance that is normally manufactured in larger laboratories in Mexico or the United States. However, because the drug can easily be made using over-the-counter and store-bought ingredients, methamphetamine can also be made in smaller, home-based laboratories. Federal law requires that pharmacies and other retail stores that sell pseudoephedrine, one of the main ingredients used to produce methamphetamine and an ingredient normally found in cold medicines, limit the quantity of pseudoephedrine products an individual can purchase on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this is not sufficient action to halt methamphetamine production, especially when one considers that an individual can visit a number of different retail stores in order to purchase all the pseudoephedrine necessary for methamphetamine production.
The individual who cooks up methamphetamine does so by combining pseudoephedrine with harsh chemicals like battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel and antifreeze in order to boost the drug’s strength and potency. Cooking and combining these chemicals is highly dangerous, and can cause explosions that not only harm the cooks themselves, but also endanger other innocent individuals who are occupying nearby homes or buildings. Furthermore, the toxic waste produced through methamphetamine production can poison individuals who are exposed to it, even long after the laboratory has been shut down.
Individuals who take methamphetamine normally swallow, smoke snort or inject the drug. When methamphetamine enters the bloodstream it moves quickly to the brain, where it causes an immediate and intense euphoria by stimulating the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is involved in the pleasure and reward circuits of the brain, as well as basic motor function. This pleasurable, stimulating sensation may last for up to thirty minutes, and is normally followed by a period during which the individual feels aggressive and argumentative. An individual experiencing this phase of methamphetamine use may focus intensively on some insignificant action and seem paranoid about completing it, such as wiping the same counter over and over for several hours. Eventually, these stimulating effects begin to wear off, which leads many methamphetamine users to binge on the drug, taking repeated doses of methamphetamine for anywhere from three to fifteen days in a row. Each time they take another dose of methamphetamine the user experiences a slightly less intense rush or high, until finally they don’t experience any sort of pleasurable sensation from methamphetamine use. It is at this point that they come down from the stimulating effects of methamphetamine and into the drug’s depressant effects, normally experiencing feelings of emptiness and craving. This phase of methamphetamine use is commonly referred to as tweaking, and the individual is usually unable to sleep for days at a time, experiencing a psychosis that may include a disconnection from reality and hostility toward self and others. Finally, the body is no longer able to operate and it shuts down or crashes, resulting in a long period of apparently lifeless sleep that can last for up to three days. When the individual awakens they are normally starved, dehydrated and completely exhausted. Their solution to these problems is to take more methamphetamine, and the cycle begins again.
Because many individuals abuse methamphetamine in an effort to maintain the pleasurable euphoria produced by the drug, and because methamphetamine stimulates the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, use of this drug can quickly cause dependence in the individual’s body.
Some side effects of methamphetamine use include anxiety, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, hyperthermia, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, violent behavior, paranoia, hallucinations and the delusion that insects are crawling under the skin. Methamphetamine use can also cause severe tooth decay, sores on the skin from excessive picking and scratching and gray, hanging skin.
Help for Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction Problems
An individual who is suffering from methamphetamine abuse and addiction is usually unable to resolve these problems on their own. Withdrawal from methamphetamine use is very painful and dangerous, so it should never be attempted without the care and supervision of trained and experienced medical professionals. Some methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include depression, lack of energy, intense cravings and violent thoughts, including thoughts of suicide. An inability to fully and effectively resolve one’s methamphetamine abuse and addiction problems will likely result in a relapse into methamphetamine use. The critical components to methamphetamine rehabilitation treatment include:
Physical detoxification to rid the body systems of all residuals of this drug substance, thereby greatly reducing or even eliminating methamphetamine cravings.
Counseling to help the individual address and resolve the underlying causes for their methamphetamine use.
Health and nutrition education to aid the individual in repairing the physical damage done by methamphetamine use.
Life skills education to give the individual the tools and abilities they will need to work through future problems, difficulties and challenges in their life without returning to methamphetamine use.
Aftercare services that help smooth the individual’s transition back into their normal life environments and routines with the support and encouragement necessary to maintain their sobriety.
It may be true that methamphetamine use can quickly cause devastating dependency and addiction problems, but it is also true that with the right treatment, it can and has been effectively resolved.