During World War II, soldiers were given methamphetamine to enhance their performance and endurance in the field. It provided them with a sense of power, confidence, and heightened cognitive abilities. However, the aftermath of the war revealed the destructive nature of methamphetamine addiction, with many veterans suffering from withdrawal symptoms and experiencing severe mental complications. This was the beginning of our understanding that methamphetamine can cause physical and psychological dependence.
In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of methamphetamine, the harm it can cause to the body, and the available treatments to help individuals overcome this problem. So, let’s explore everything you need to know about methamphetamine!
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a brain stimulant that belongs to the amphetamines group. It is an illicit substance, similar to cocaine and heroin. In Brazil, it is commonly known as “speed” or “cristal”. Young people often use “cristal” at parties, raves, and nightclubs, referring to it as “ice” or “glass”. Truck drivers use it under the name “rebite” to alleviate fatigue during long hours of driving. Students, on the other hand, call it “bola” and use it during exam periods when they need to study all night.
Methamphetamine is a potent and dangerous drug with a high potential for addiction. Its initial effects are stimulating, but the destruction it causes to the body is immediate. Chronic use of methamphetamine leads to increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, increased appetite, extreme fatigue, and sleepiness. The drug is also used as a weight loss aid, but it often leads to weight regain, creating a vicious cycle known as the “yo-yo effect”. Prolonged and improper use of methamphetamine can result in severe psychological changes, irreversible brain damage, seizures, overdoses, and suicidal tendencies.
Understanding how methamphetamine affects the body and recognizing its symptoms are crucial for taking appropriate actions in case of suspected drug use. Drug abuse and its associated problems deserve special attention, as recent data shows an increase in the use of psychotropic drugs, even among individuals over 50 years old.
What is the Composition of Methamphetamine?
Unlike cocaine, which comes from a plant, methamphetamine is an artificial drug produced in clandestine laboratories. It is made by mixing different forms of amphetamines with various chemicals. Cold medications are often added to enhance the drug’s potency. The production process can involve substances like battery acid, kerosene, sewage treatment materials, and antifreeze.
The appearance of methamphetamine varies depending on the manufacturing method. It is usually sold as a white, crystalline powder with a bitter taste and no odor. People can inhale, ingest, or inject methamphetamine. It can also be transformed into a crystallized form known as methamphetamine hydrochloride, which can be smoked and has a higher potential for addiction.
Regardless of the method of consumption, methamphetamine creates a false sense of joy, well-being, self-confidence, and happiness. Its affordability and versatility in terms of consumption methods contribute to its increasing use. However, it is important to note that methamphetamine stays in the body for approximately 8 hours, which is longer compared to other cheaper drugs.
How Does Methamphetamine Affect the Body?
Methamphetamine affects the body in a similar way to crack, cocaine, or heroin. It induces sudden euphoria, increased energy, accelerated speech, hyperactivity, and insomnia. Users also experience a decrease in appetite, and the drug’s effects can last up to 24 hours.
Drugs like methamphetamine interact with brain neurotransmitters and affect brain systems related to pleasure and reward. They affect important psychological aspects such as eating, drinking, emotions, relationships, and learning and memory capabilities. Other noticeable behavioral changes include irritability, impaired judgment, heavy sweating, chills, and a strong sense of omnipotence.
Methamphetamine also has detrimental effects on the circulatory system, constricting arteries and reducing cell oxygenation and nutrient supply. Increased blood pressure and heart rate can lead to heart attacks and arrhythmias. Reduced blood flow to certain areas of the brain results in decreased attention, difficulty concentrating, and memory loss. Emotional issues are also affected.
However, the false energy boost provided by methamphetamine results in serious complications. It masks fatigue, leading to physical exhaustion. When the effects wear off, users experience a lack of energy, depression, and an urge to consume more drugs.
What is the Difference Between Methamphetamine and Amphetamine?
Amphetamines are a group of synthetic drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. They include drugs like methamphetamine and ecstasy, which are commonly consumed illegally. These drugs induce temporary feelings of well-being and hyperactivity.
However, there are also amphetamines that are prescribed for therapeutic purposes and weight control. These medications should only be used under medical supervision due to the risks associated with self-medication. Methamphetamine is a chemical compound that belongs to the amphetamines.
How to Identify Overdose from these Drugs?
An overdose occurs when the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol, or medications overwhelm the body’s mental and physical functions. Overdoses can happen gradually or suddenly, usually resulting from constant substance abuse or use following a period of withdrawal. High doses of drugs overwhelm the body’s ability to eliminate toxic substances, leading to serious side effects such as liver damage, brain injury, and even death. Inadequate nutrition and the concurrent use of multiple drugs further increase the risk of overdose and respiratory failure.
Common signs of overdose caused by stimulant drugs include fever, paranoia, fainting, seizures, aggression, chest pain, intense agitation, mental confusion, incoherent speech, loss of consciousness, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, and hallucinations of persecution.
What to Do in the Event of an Overdose from Stimulant Drugs?
Overdose is a serious medical condition that requires immediate intervention. If someone exhibits symptoms of overdose from stimulant drugs, it is crucial to seek emergency medical care. Do not induce vomiting, offer any liquids or medications, or crowd around the person. Keep the individual awake, monitor their breathing, and wait for medical assistance in a well-ventilated area. If there is a loss of consciousness, lay the person on their left side to facilitate breathing. If possible, provide the substance that caused the overdose along with the victim to assist with medical treatment.
How to Prevent an Overdose?
The best way to prevent an overdose is to avoid drug abuse altogether, including substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and medications. In cases of regular use, seeking professional help is essential. Family members, friends, and spouses should be vigilant for early signs of drug use and encourage the user to seek treatment. It is important to never experiment with drugs alone, as emergencies like overdoses require immediate assistance.
What Are the Stages of Methamphetamine Use?
The effects experienced during the stages of methamphetamine use depend on the intensity of use and the user’s clinical condition. The stages can be categorized as follows:
This stage is the initial response to methamphetamine, where the user experiences elevated heart rate, pulse, and metabolism. Unlike other drugs, methamphetamine excitement can last for 30 minutes.
After excitement comes the elevation phase, also known as “noia”. Users become more energetic, talkative, and intelligent during this period. However, the illusory effects of elevation can lead to repetitive and obsessive habits. Methamphetamine elevation typically lasts from 4 to 16 hours.
Craving refers to the uncontrollable urge to consume more amphetamines to maintain the “high”. Users in the craving phase become highly hyperactive, physically and mentally energized. This phase can last for 2 weeks.
The tweaking phase characterizes the final part of craving, when methamphetamine no longer provides excitement or a “high”. Users experience feelings of emptiness, depression, and constant hallucinations. This phase is particularly dangerous, as hallucinations appear real. Individuals become hostile, dangerous to themselves and others, and at high risk of self-harm and aggression.
The crash phase represents the breakdown of the body for avid users. They become extremely lethargic and practically inactive. The crash can last for about 3 days.
After the crash, users feel exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated, experiencing physical and psychological exhaustion. The hangover reinforces their dependence on methamphetamine.
The withdrawal period occurs when users abstain from using the drug and experience withdrawal symptoms. This phase is characterized by depression, irritability, fatigue, aggression, and an inability to experience pleasure from other activities. Methamphetamine withdrawal is extremely difficult, leading many addicts to relapse and return to drug dependency.
What Are the Side Effects of Methamphetamine Use?
Methamphetamine significantly affects brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, resulting in various effects on the body. The short-term effects of methamphetamine use include euphoria, improved communication skills, increased energy, and decreased appetite. However, these experiences are often followed by a sense of emptiness and despair. Methamphetamine also has immediate physical effects on the cardiovascular system, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, fever, and excessive sweating. In high doses, it can cause irritability, restlessness, loss of consciousness, and panic attacks. Severe cases may result in seizures, cerebral hemorrhage, or death from cardiac or respiratory failure.
Long-term use of methamphetamine leads to malnutrition, weight loss, severe psychological alterations, sleep disorders, an aged appearance, cognitive damage, and increased suicidal thoughts. Methamphetamine addiction creates a cycle where users feel trapped and unable to escape without professional help.
How is Methamphetamine Addiction Treated?
For individuals addicted to methamphetamine, hospitalization for detoxification treatment is often the best solution. This approach provides constant monitoring by a multidisciplinary team. Methamphetamine detoxification involves the prescription of antipsychotic medications to induce a calming effect and reduce distress during withdrawal. Hospitalization ensures control of adverse situations and complications that may arise, such as hallucinations, self-mutilation, and suicidal tendencies. An appropriate environment that guarantees safety and tranquility is crucial for complete recovery. Socialization with new people and environments plays an important role in treatment, as it helps individuals avoid drug contact and build a support system.
What to Do in the Event of a Methamphetamine-Induced Psychotic Episode?
If someone is suspected to be experiencing a methamphetamine-induced psychotic episode, immediate medical help should be sought. Call an ambulance or the police to take the person to the nearest hospital. Methamphetamine-induced psychotic episodes can lead to unpredictable reactions and put the individual at risk of death, emphasizing the need for psychiatric treatment. Family members and friends should intervene and support their loved ones in overcoming their addiction.
The risks posed to mental and physical health by methamphetamine use should not be ignored. Seeking professional support and treatment is crucial for overcoming addiction. Hospitalization provides a chance for rehabilitation and a renewed hope for a better future.
Now that you are equipped with comprehensive knowledge about methamphetamine, you can also explore the effects of alcohol and other common drugs on children and adolescents. For more information on ratings and reviews, visit Ratingperson.