Methamphetamine or meth is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and it is only available through a prescription that cannot be refilled. Because of the high abuse potential, meth is very addictive and users tend not to stay recreational or casual for long.
Then addiction sets in, it can remain for a short period of time up to a lifetime of use. But, many people who have moved past addiction or are looking to enter treatment wonder whether or not there will be lifelong reminders of past use. Are their long-term effects? What are they? How can they be dealt with? All of these are good questions and ones to consider when you decide whether or not to seek treatment, as extended chronic use can and does lead to an increase in long-term effects.
If you are looking to quit using meth and to stop some of the long-term effects before they set in, contact Addictions.com at 800-654-0987 and speak to someone today.
Meth is considered a stimulant, and that isn’t surprising when you look at the definition of the stimulant category of drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s teen site NIDA for Teens: “Stimulants are a class of drugs that can boost mood, increase feelings of well-being, increase energy, and make you more alert—but they also have dangerous effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.”
Large, illegal laboratories are used to make manmade meth in large quantities. Called “superlabs,” these labs manufacture most of the methamphetamine made available to users. This lab produced meth generally takes the form of a white, bitter-tasting powder, but it may also be produced in white pill shape or as a shiny, white or clear rock. Rocks of meth are referred to as crystal meth.
A small amount of the drug is also made in much smaller labs. Smaller labs use cheap, over-the-counter ingredients, like pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicines.
Because it is manmade and unregulated, the production of illicit meth involves the use of chemicals, many of which are toxic.
Surprisingly, methamphetamine is prescribed by doctors to treat unique instances of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions. When prescribed, the dose of meth required is much lower than the amount addicts would use to get high.
- A variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure
- Increased attention
- Decreased fatigue
- Increased activity and wakefulness
- Decreased appetite
- Euphoria and rush
- Increased respiration
- Rapid/irregular heartbeat
- Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
The most obvious effect of long-term methamphetamine use is addiction. If you are facing a current meth addiction and you want to stop the cycle, contact Addictions.com at 800-654-0987 and speak with someone who can connect you to the resources you need.
Because tolerance and withdrawal are part of the addiction process, chronic meth users will need to incrementally increase the amount of the drug they are taking in order to get the same effects. Meth increases the neurotransmitter dopamine (connected to the reward system and pleasure center in your brain), and this causes the body to go into depression when the drug and the dopamine subside. This leads users to increase their usage, but it also makes it hard for users to feel pleasure in the absence of meth.
The NIDA reports the following long-term effects of meth use:
- Significant anxiety
- Mood disturbances
- Psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions
- Skin abrasions
- Pronounced weight loss
- Severe tooth decay and tooth loss
- Changes in brain structure and function
- Deficits in thinking and motor skills
- Increased distractibility
- Memory loss
- Aggressive or violent behavior
The NIDA notes: “Psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit abusing methamphetamine, and stress has been shown to precipitate spontaneous recurrence of methamphetamine psychosis in formerly psychotic methamphetamine abusers.” In addition to long-lasting psychosis, some brain changes also linger. In a study using brain imaging, function in certain brain regions did not recover even after 14 months of abstinence from methamphetamine.
The most important step you can take in halting the long-term effects of meth use is to stop using and to commit to a rehabilitation program. When you are ready to take this step, contact Addictions.com at 800-654-0987 and speak with someone today.