What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is the most hyper-charged stimulant drug available. More powerful and cheaper than cocaine, methamphetamine is sold as a sparkling white powder that can be injected, inhaled, or taken orally. In recent years, a smokable form of the drug (sold in tiny, clear chunks called "Glass" or "Ice") has gained popularity due to it's long-lasting "high", which can continue for up to 24 hours.
How & Why is Methamphetamine Abused?
While methamphetamine has been around for decades, the drug is now easier to get, making it a fast-growing favorite among teenagers and a major concern of drug enforcement officials.
Inhaled into the nostrils, and within minutes the abuser is filled with energy and confidence. Injected or smoked, "meth" causes a bullet-train "rush" to the brain measured in seconds. Methamphetamine creates a fire storm of electrical and chemical excitation in the brain, causing an intense wave of exhilaration and pleasure. The current fascination with methamphetamine will not end quickly. Every index… from arrests to emergency room admissions, point to an epidemic among teenagers.
Effects on the Mind & Body
Since methamphetamine erases fatigue and hunger, abusers overload their systems for long periods of time without rest, and usually without food, placing impossible demands on the body.
Methamphetamine produces increasing tolerance, therefore, teenagers who continue to use it need more and more of the drug to get the same effect.Withdrawal can involve acute feelings of depression and fatigue. Depression can reach critical proportions, since life without the drug can seem boring to a dedicated meth abuser.
What are the Risks?
It's no accident that you don't bump into too many old-time "meth abusers" on the street. Generally, they don't live long enough to get old. And… the road to addiction is much shorter than with other drugs. It can take as little as three months for an occasional abuser to develop a hard-core dependency.
Methamphetamine literally causes the body to burn itself up. Resistance to disease is lowered and damage to the liver, kidneys, brain, heart, and lungs can easily result from continued use. The risk of AIDS and other infections is significantly increased from the use of needles. Overdose can result in permanent mental problems and death.
Paranoid states frequently result from use of the drug. During these episodes, abusers believe unfounded ideas… perhaps that they have discovered the meaning of life, or that they are being observed by enemies or the police. Serious accidents and automobile crashes may occur because the drug interferes with vision, coordination, reflexes and judgment.
The abuse of methamphetamine interferes with family and friends, and harms school and job performance. However, the abuse of meth can be tougher to spot than with other drugs, since it doesn't leave an odor like alcohol and marijuana. Moreover, it initially makes teenagers more energetic and alert, and that may actually be quite pleasing for parents in the beginning.
Signs & Symptoms
- Dramatic deterioration (or improvement) in school performance
- Unusual talkativeness and greatly increased physical activity
- Sleeping only a little or slumping into exhausted sleep lasting 12 hours or more
- Loss of appetite followed by binge eating
- Depression and irritability
- Sniffles, dilated pupils, restlessness, excessive thirst, sweating, and diarrhea
Kicking the Habit
Meth addiction is not easy to break. Many addicts need a traumatic event to convince them to quit. Neither arrest, nor, threat of losing their lives seem to have an impact once teenagers are hooked. However, a combination of resilience, determination, professional treatment and daily support can pull the meth addict through. Full recovery is possible… but, the key is the determination of teenagers to quit and to focus their energy on getting and staying clean.
Getting Through the Wall
Recovering addicts often experience a return of the depression, moodiness, and inability to focus that accompanies the early stages of withdrawal. This period called the "wall" can last up to three months during which, teens often relapse.
Teens must learn to avoid "triggers" that prompt a yearning for the drug, such as socializing with active drug abusers. That usually involves changing friends… one of the hardest challenges facing a young addict. And, recovering addicts often relapse into the abuse of alcohol or other drugs, which means they have to be extra vigilant.
Methamphetamine abusers are often natural risk-takers, so it's important for them to find other adventurous, but non-destructive activities to substitute for drug use.
"If teenagers aren't having some measure of enjoyment in recovery, they're just not as likely to make it."