While chemically related to amphetamines, methamphetamines are a stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system much stronger. While easily dissolving in water or alcohol, methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder. The differing combinations of some highly volatile and toxic substances form what has been described as Meth, a “mix of laundry detergent and lighter fluid”, often based on the chemical precursors of methylamine and amyl amine.
By pumping up the levels of two neurotransmitters, the central nervous system is aroused by the increases in norepinephrine and dopamine. Alertness can be boosted with blocks in hunger and fatigue with lower doses of meth. Exhilaration and euphoria increase with its higher doses. Agitation, paranoia and some very bizarre behavior comes with very high doses of meth.
Chronic uses of meth bring on anxiety, mood swings and paranoia as its most common psychological effects. Symptoms broaden and evolve to paranoid delusions and hallucinations with long-term use. Common behavior involves violence and self-destructive acts.
Paranoia, short term memory loss, wild rages and mood swings as well as damage to your immune system are included in the list of side effects of meth use.
More descriptive and recognizable behaviors include:
Auditory hallucinations (hearing “voices”)
Suspiciousness, severe paranoia
Shortness of breath
Increased blood pressure
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Long periods of sleep (“crashing” for 24-48 hours or more)
Prolonged sluggishness, severe depression
Weight loss, malnutrition, anorexia
Itching (illusion that bugs are crawling on the skin)
Welts on the skin
Involuntary body movements
There are three patterns to meth addiction: low intensity, binge, and high intensity. Casual use by swallowing or snorting meth describes the low-intensity abuse level. Psychologically addicted users at the binge and high-intensity abuse levels in order to get their high faster and at stronger levels will prefer to smoke or inject their meth, Binge users are at the middle-range of users between low and high-intensity abuse. There doesn’t seem to be a physical level of addiction to meth for its users. There is an extremely psychological addiction to meth though.
Depending on how often and how much Meth was used, the withdrawal from meth will likewise vary in length and severity of the depression experienced. The symptoms of withdrawal will include: cravings, exhaustion, depression, mental confusion, restlessness, insomnia, deep or disturbed sleep, and may last up to 48 hours.
The more recognizable withdrawal symptoms include:
Long, disturbed periods of sleep
Moderate to severe depression
Two approaches have been identified that have been used for treatment of Meth addiction. One is the Matrix Model that is an outpatient model including urine testing and the other is the Contingency Management model where positive reinforcement is used to stimulate and increase a desired behavior. There are currently no medicinal treatments of any kind available although they are being researched and its hopeful for them to be developed.