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Methamphetamine abuse can cause severe health problems, including brain damage and meth mouth. Meth addicts often find it difficult to obtain a full meth recovery. Keep reading to learn more about meth abuse, addiction, effects of meth on the brain, and meth treatment options.
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One of the most insidious drugs available is methamphetamine (often just referred to as “meth”). Meth is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. The effects can be quite powerful, and as a result there is a very strong chance of amphetamine addiction in those who use it. One of the allures of methamphetamine is the fact that it can be produced with relative ease, even in small laboratories located in homes. Many people have been surprised to learn that a small meth lab is operating in a neighbor’s home. It is important to note that the chemicals and process used can be dangerous, in some cases resulting in an explosion.
Meth is odorless, but it has a bitter taste. It is a white powder with a crystalline structure. It dissolves quickly in liquid, and becomes practically undetectable, although the bitter taste is still present. It is possible to take methamphetamine in any form: orally, snorting, injection and smoking.
The use of methamphetamine among teenagers is declining, with only 2.8% of high school seniors using meth at some point in their lifetimes. Approximately 1.3 million people use methamphetamine, and that is a number that is on the decline, according the National Institute on Drug Abuse methamphetamine statistics. The first use of meth is usually 19 years old.
The effects of methamphetamine abuse on the brain
Because meth affects the central nervous system, the brain is heavily influenced by its use. Meth is so powerful because it is designed to increase the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to the pleasure experience. Not only does methamphetamine result in an increase of this chemical, but it also blocks the reuptake, resulting in high levels being present in the brain. This can mean a “rush” - the intense feeling of euphoria initially experienced by those abusing meth.
As methamphetamine abuse continues, the brain’s function is actually altered. Verbal learning and motor skills can be permanently affected by prolonged methamphetamine abuse. Emotion and memory can also be permanently affected by meth abuse. These changes will continue to be in operation, even after the user quits. It can take a long time, but in some cases, a few of the changes to the brain can be reversed.
Methamphetamine abuse and the health of the body
Meth is also hard on the rest of the body. First of all, the body experiences many effects similar to those felt from other stimulants. You will feel decreased appetite, increased respiration, restlessness, irregular heartbeat, hyperthermia and an increase in blood pressure. These effects can be magnified by large doses of methamphetamine, and can cause serious problems.
In the long term, methamphetamine abuse causes a number of unpleasant health effects. It can lead to extreme weight loss, as well as very severe dental problems (meth mouth). Prolonged meth use can also result in mood swings, violence, anxiety and paranoia, confusion, sleeping problems, hallucinations, delusions and other issues. Continued meth abuse can lead to serious mental and physical problems.
Another issue surrounds the use of needles. When looking for a high, it is unlikely that most methamphetamine users concern themselves with the cleanliness of their injection instruments. As a result, many diseases can be transmitted as meth abusers share needles. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be spread this way, as can HIV, resulting eventually in AIDS. Any other infectious disease can be spread through the sharing of needles.
Treating methamphetamine abuse
Because it can be so devastating, it is important to treat methamphetamine addiction as soon as possible. Right now, the most effective treatment appears to center around interventions based around cognitive and behavioral therapies. There are a number of programs that are designed to help meth users overcome their addictions. They learn to replace methamphetamine abuse with more positive behaviors, and are rewarded for remaining clean. A strong support system is also important in the treatment of methamphetamine abuse.
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