A popular — and deadly — street drug
Synthesized for medicinal use in the early 1900s, methamphetamine quickly gained popularity as a powerful and highly addictive street drug that’s relatively inexpensive to produce and distribute. Today it’s only prescribed use is for the treatment of ADHD and obesity.
What Is Meth Addiction?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Like many substances, its appeal lies in increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for reinforcing rewarding behaviors. Of course, this is a double-edged sword because the rapid release of dopamine often makes the user want to repeat the experience. And because the high from the drug fades rather quickly, people often take repeated doses in what’s known as a “binge-and-crash” pattern.
In some cases, those using methamphetamine on a binge (known as a “run”) will give up food and sleep and use the drug continuously every few hours for several days. As you can imagine, this is a dangerous practice with significant long-term effects.
Negative Effects of Meth
In addition, there’s an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases including HIV, and hepatitis B and C because continued use lessens one’s inhibitions, particularly with sexual behavior. And it often leads to severe dental problems, earning the condition the nickname “meth mouth,” and users frequently experience intense itching, which produces skin sores. Changes in brain structure, not to mention issues with cognition (thinking, learning, understanding, and memory recall) are common as well.
Meth by the Numbers
- The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 774,000 people were current methamphetamine users in 2017. The lion’s share of those users, approximately 607,000 (or 86%), were individuals 26 years of age or older.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) asserts that 15% of all drug overdose deaths involved methamphetamine, and half of those involved the addition of synthetic opioids.
- The 2018 Monitoring the Future Survey found that for adolescents, methamphetamine use peaked in 1982 (at 3.7%) and has hit a historical low in 2018 at just 0.5%.
- The average age of new methamphetamine users in 2016 was 23.3 years old.
- An estimated 964,000 people 12 or older (about 0.4% of the population) had a methamphetamine use disorder in 2017 — that is, they reported clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home as a result of their drug use. This number is significantly higher than the 684,000 people who reported having methamphetamine use disorder in 2016.
- The cost of amphetamine-related hospitalizations increased from $436 million in 2003 to close to $2.2 billion by 2015.
Prolonged methamphetamine use has a significant impact on body function, appearance, overall health, and risk tolerance. Along with exposure to dangerous chemicals, someone abusing methamphetamine may struggle with anxiety, confusion, extreme weight loss, memory loss, sleeping issues, and violent behavior.
Symptoms of Meth Abuse
- Memory Loss
- Lack of personal hygiene or significant shift in appearance including extreme weight loss, skin sores, clenched jaw, and recession of teeth and gums
- A propensity for risky behavior (gambling, getting in fights, theft, unsafe sexual behavior)
Help for Meth Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine, we’re here for you. Instead of a quick fix, our compassionate team of experts at The Meadows is waiting to help you begin your journey toward long-term recovery that focuses on the whole person by addressing any underlying mental health conditions or trauma that may be perpetuating the abuse of methamphetamine.
Our Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and is experienced in assisting others with compassion, dignity, and respect — hallmark values of The Meadows for more than 40 years. The Meadows’ Admissions Specialists are here to help you on your way to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. When you call, they will lead you through a series of questions to determine if The Meadows is a good fit, and how soon your treatment can begin. If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out an admissions form today!