The Menace of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine—or meth—is a highly addictive drug. It is a Schedule II controlled
substance. It can be prescribed. But most meth that is abused is made in illegal labs.
Meth is related to the legally prescribed stimulant amphetamine. But it has stronger
effects. The drug causes an immediate feeling of increased activity, or a "rush,"
along with decreased appetite.
Meth is known on the street as speed, tweak, uppers, or black beauties. The drug is
taken in pill form. Or it can be snorted or injected in powdered form. It can also
be smoked. This crystallized meth is a more powerful form of the drug.
Meth lures people looking for a high. But it also appeals to women trying to lose
weight or those seeking a burst of energy to make it through the day. In fact, women
use meth at rates that are about equal to men. That is unlike many other illegal drugs,
which are mainly used by men.
When meth starts to wear off, abusers face 2 options. They can suffer through what
can be a 3 day bottoming-out period. That may include irritability, listlessness,
and headaches. Or they can take another dose to ease their suffering. But they then
More and more people are taking that second dose. People hear the myths that the drug
does good things and lasts 12 hours a dose. They feel they can work longer hours,
study more, and lose weight.
Meth can also be easily found. Unlike other stimulants, it can be made in the kitchen
sink using cheap household ingredients. But the process can be dangerous. Explosions
Addiction is closely tied to how quickly a user feels a drug's effect. Most meth users
either smoke or inject it. Both methods rapidly bring on euphoria. This euphoria is
followed by up to 12 hours of what feels to the user like endless energy. Everything
speeds up. There is a decreased need for sleep. Users talk a lot and lose their appetite.
People who abuse cocaine also get a feeling of euphoria. But the body quickly gets
rid of the drug. The good feeling rapidly diminishes. Meth remains in the body far
longer, prolonging its effects.
Meth coaxes the body to work harder. The heart rate increases and metabolism speeds
up. The brain's ability to balance sedation and activity is altered. The increase
in heart rate can lead to aneurysms and heart failure, even in the very young. The
drug drives the heart to exhaustion.
Chronic meth abusers can suffer long-term health effects. The drug can damage areas
of the brain that control muscle movement, verbal learning, emotions, and memory.
Meth use can also cause malnutrition, aggression, psychotic behavior, and severe dental
problems. It also increases the risk for stroke. Some of this damage may be reversed
if a person quits abusing the drug. But recovery can take years.