Meth is a highly addictive CNS stimulant that is cheap to make, often, with everyday household supplies and other poisonous chemicals. Initial use may being with snorting, but, lead to other methods of use because, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center “the harsh chemicals used to produce methamphetamine damage the nasal passages, forcing abusers to resort to smoking or injecting the drug.”
The first thing that happens when meth is used occurs from a flood of dopamine in the brain producing an intense euphoria or “rush”. As the dopamine attaches to various dopamine receptors, the CNS is stimulated and dramatically increases the heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Body temperature becomes elevated and the user feels energetic and pulsating senses throughout their body. This can last up to 30 minutes depending on the user, their frequency of use, method of use, and amount of meth consumed.
Following the rush, the meth user may begin to exhibit anxiety, paranoia, nervousness, auditory hallucinations, or delusional behaviors of superiority, intelligence, or strength. They may become talkative, overly-active, or intensely obsessed with an object, thought, or activity. Cognition and motor functioning are affected and vary by user and this high can last anywhere from 4-14 hours.
Once a person begins abusing meth, they will often use the drug uncontrollably for long periods of time, repeating doses and increasing the quantities until they can no longer feel the rush or euphoria, until their bodies wear out, or no more meth is available. This binge keeps them from sleeping, eating right, and plays havoc on the brain, the CNS, and the rest of the body. When the binge is over the user will “crash” and sleep for extended periods of time, sometimes days.
“Tweaking” is a term for the common symptoms of mental health disturbances, including cravings, psychosis, and hallucinations. Chronic meth abuse may cause the person to itch uncontrollably, believe that bugs are crawling under their skin, and become self mutilating to get rid of them. Psychotic effects of hearing or seeing things that are not there appear so real that the person experiences panic attacks, severe paranoia, aggression, hostility, or be dangerous in many ways.
After awakening from a meth crash, the user’s state of mind and body remain overwhelmed with the abuse and they may be dehydrated, starving, exhausted, and unstable physically and emotionally. They often have emotional swings of anxiety, depression, and cravings to do more meth for relief. These symptoms can last a days or weeks. Withdrawal symptoms of severe depression, suicide ideation, loss of energy, enthusiasm, or ability to experience pleasure may be noticed 1-3 months after last use.