Methamphetamine, also known simply as “meth”, is a dangerous and highly addictive drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported from a 2017 survey that approximately 1.6 million people had reported methamphetamine use and approximately 964,000 people had a methamphetamine use disorder. Further, NIDA reports that the highest availability of meth is in the pacific and west central regions of the US, including here in Colorado. With the increase of any dangerous substance, comes the increased risk of overdose and death. Meth overdose is a serious risk with use. The potential for serious health effects or death are significant with meth use and it is important to seek help for yourself or anyone else as soon as possible. Understandably, it is not an easy thing to do so, but at Mountain View we are here to help.
What is Meth?
Meth is a drug that was developed in the early 20th century and is derived from its parent drug, amphetamine. Both drugs obviously share similarities, but are not the exact same. Meth is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and NIDA notes that in comparison to amphetamine, it is a much more potent and “has longer-lasting and more harmful effects on the central nervous system.”
The DEA classifies methamphetamine under Schedule II drugs, which means it has some medical use, but also high potential for abuse and psychological or physical dependence. Prescriptions for legal methamphetamine are rare and only meant for short-term use. As a considerable amount of meth use is illicit, people are typically consuming amounts that can quickly lead to serious problems.
Dependance and Addiction
With initial meth use, someone might experience the following symptoms:
- Increase in energy
- Feelings of confidence
- Increase in talkativeness
- Decrease in appetite
- Heightened feelings of pleasure or euphoria
Many continue to use meth because of the pleasurable effects. At this point, a person begins to develop a tolerance to the drug and needs to use more and more to experience the same feelings.
Long-term effects include:
- Psychosis (paranoia, hallucinations)
- Changes in brain structure and function
- Memory loss
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Weight loss
- Severe dental problems
- Mood disturbances
With prolonged use, meth begins to change the brain structure and function, which is part of what makes addiction so serious and difficult to treat.
An overdose is not always fatal, but the risk does exist and the potential for negative, long-lasting effects is serious. As much of meth use is illicit, the risk of finding other substances in meth is serious. According to NIDA, “About 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category in 2017, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid.” Fentanyl is a highly potent drug, 50-100 times more than morphine, and up to 50 times more than heroin. It only takes a small amount, like the size of two grains of salt, to cause a fatal overdose.
For meth alone, an overdose may vary depending on the amount of the drug taken and there are a wide range of symptoms involved. As someone builds up a tolerance and develops a dependence, the more serious type of overdose (including death) is at risk.
For any suspected overdose, it is of course important to call emergency services at 911.
The severity of withdrawal from meth depends on the length of use, how much a person uses, and the level of dependence. Cravings are most intense in the first 24 hours. Symptoms include: increased appetite, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. After this, people often experience intense cravings and severe depression for 2-3 weeks. Some studies report that withdrawal often lasts for around 5 weeks, but this of course depends on the factors previously mentioned.
Withdrawal from meth is highly uncomfortable and often difficult without professional help and supervision.
Given the highly addictive nature of meth, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. The worst outcome is of course death. However, prolonged use can also result in other serious, lifelong issues. Recovery is complex – it takes time and possibly repeated efforts at treatment. This should not discourage anyone. You or anyone you know that is struggling with meth abuse or addiction deserves a free and happy life – no matter what or how long it takes. Contact us today for more information and find out how we can help.