Methamphetamine Effects

The immediate effect of using methamphetamine by being snorted is a sensation of euphoria. The fast-acting effects produced when injected or smoked is an extreme pleasure sensation called a “rush” or “flash,” which lasts only a few minutes, but is highly pleasurable. This is created when intense levels of dopamine are released into the brain suddenly.

How Meth Affects Your Body

Small doses of methamphetamine will result in several symptoms, which may include: high levels of alertness, leading to inability to sleep, hyperactivity, loss of appetite, aggressive behavior and irritability, nervous behaviors, anxiety, faster breathing, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, rapid or irregular heart beat, and hyperthermia. Larger doses or more frequent use increases the risk of nausea, excessive sweating, tremors, jaw-clenching, agitation, chatty and rapid speech patterns, arterial constriction, panic attacks and compulsive behaviors, especially with details of repetitive or routine tasks. Also seen are violent reactions to outside stimuli, convulsions, and hallucinations. Other side effects are dry mouth or unpleasant taste in mouth, hives, itching, sensations that feel like “crawling bugs” under the skin or close to the surface of skin, and uncontrolled movements of the head, neck, mouth, arms, or legs (otherwise called tics).

Long-Term Effects of Meth

Chronic and long-term usage affects brain function by increasing the brain chemical dopamine and its reuptake, which floods the brain with this chemical substance. This is the pattern for most abused drugs. Located in the “pleasure center” of the brain, the rapid availability of dopamine increases the sense of euphoria that is initially realized when experiencing the “rush” of injection or inhaling (smoking) methamphetamine. Dopamine creates an overall sense of well-being and is related to pleasure, motor functions, the reward pathways of the brain, and motivation. Methamphetamine delivers up to 12 times the amount of dopamine that is normally present in pleasurable activities like sex and eating. After long periods of use, the receptors become damaged and the user is unable to register pleasure from any activities at all. This increases the “need” users develop to increase the dosage of the drug and the need to continue use/abuse to stave off the depressed effect that comes from no use of the drug. As users develop a craving for more and more of the drug, life becomes colorless and flat for them without it.

Aftereffects of Meth

After discontinuing use of methamphetamine, some regeneration of the brain chemistry is seen after six or more months. Cognitive damage, however, appears to be similar to that of those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. This damage is seen in memory, judgment and motor coordination.

Some of the most noticeable side effects of long-term abuse of methamphetamine include collapse of the jaw, which will cause the user to develop facial movements that are constant and uncontrolled, another facial “tic.”

Meth users seem to age quickly, as their bodies deteriorate at an alarming speed. Users will notice the following physical repercussions:

    • Gums will become dried out, creating tooth decay and constant clenching of the jaw, which will further increase the collapse of the jaw itself and serious dental hygiene problems. Teeth will become discolored, gums will be permanently receded and tissues damaged, and tooth loss due to breakage is common for many.
    • Users feel the “crawling” sensation of methamphetamine abuse on various parts of the body, known as “formication,” and will continually pick at their skin, causing scratches and welts that can become infected and scar.
    • Skin will lose all signs of health and luster, becoming colorless and prone to acne, as well as the scarring from picking. Because it is being depleted of all nutrients and water needed to remain healthy, skin will become wrinkled and aged very rapidly.
    • Ongoing lack of desire for food will create a deficit of healthy body fat, the user will appear underweight, probably gaunt, and may develop health problems similar to those of chronic undernourishment. Bone density decreases, and illnesses related to their lack of dietary health begin to appear. Most of this damage is permanent and the body will not regenerate lost nutrients.

The constant and overstimulation of the “fight or flight” release of adrenalin into the bodies of users will, over time, make them prone to angry outbursts, paranoia that becomes psychotic, and can continue long after they have stopped abusing the drug. Symptoms of psychotic behavior and ideation are common in the early stages of taking the drug, along with audio and visual hallucinations. Users will hear voices and see things that are not present. It is not uncommon for medical personnel to misdiagnose these behaviors as schizo-affective disorder or schizophrenia. Many may retain this mental instability for long periods after cessation of use.

Social Effects of Meth

Social relationships are damaged, family relationships are neglected and broken, and legal consequences of will ensue. Methamphetamine use/abuse is illegal. Even when prescribed, overuse of methamphetamine occurs quickly, as dependence and escalated doses are required. Illegal use will eventually lead to complications with law enforcement agencies and arrests, prosecution and time spent in correctional facilities. Children of addicted users are born with the same addiction as the mother. This creates more social intervention for both mother and children. Social consequences of methamphetamine abuse are far-reaching and extensive.

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