Methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth, is a synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Meth is one of the most addictive illicit drugs out there. The first high experienced in meth use is unlike any other high following first use, as it floods the brain with dopamine causing an intense rush. A rebound low follows the intense high sending users into a spiraling search for relief from the lows and to replay the highs. This repetitive search is called “chasing the high.” With each use of meth a greater tolerance is built causing the user to need more of the drug to achieve the desired high, and in return creating stronger addiction to where they are continuing to take the drug even after it has stopped giving them pleasure and its consequences have become quite apparent.
What are the short-term effects?
There are many significant, short-term effects as a result of meth use including:
- sensory hallucinations
The added danger of meth is that the user never really knows what they’re getting as ingredients and consistencies vary.
What’s in it?
Meth is composed of pseudoephedrine (a decongestant) and a number of toxic ingredients. Some of the most commonly used ingredients in meth are toxic and highly flammable including acetone, lithium, toluene, hydrochloride acid, pseudoephedrine, red phosphorus, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, and anhydrous ammonia.
What are the long-term effects?
In addition to the short-term effects of meth there are numerous long-term effects on the body. You may have seen the “faces of meth”, the popular billboard advertising how meth changes a person’s appearance even just over a matter of months.
- Meth can devastate people’s faces and bodies to the point where they become almost unrecognizable.
- A common physical impact of meth on the body is open sores. Because meth causes hallucinations, users often believe there are bugs crawling on or under their skin. In their psychotic state they pick vigorously at their skin trying to get them out, creating sores.
- The drug also cuts off healthy blood flow to the skin causing sores a longer period of time to heal, in the mean time giving more room for infection to set in.
- Meth suppresses white blood cells, the ones created to fight off germs, viruses, and bacteria. As you can see, meth users are more susceptible to getting infections, viruses, and fungi, which is made visible by sores on the skin.
- As this drug speeds up the heart rate, with extended use it can cause heart palpitations, heart and organ failure.
The effects of meth on the body do not end with physical implications, but also, and perhaps more seriously, they are demonstrated through impacts on the brain and mental health of the individual. Meth impacts the brain causing the user to have delusions and hallucinations, depression, obsessive behavior, uncontrollable movement, long-lasting cognitive impairment including damage to long-term and short-term memory, aggression, a quick tolerance builds up causing an inability to experience pleasure, and not surprisingly, addiction.