Meth remains one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs in the world with the National Institute on Drug Abuse now claiming that over 1 million Americans use this drug regularly. Meth addictions span all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds with millions dealing with the direct and indirect effects of this drug daily. While these addictions are not easy to beat, inpatient and outpatient treatments are more effective than ever. Anyone that is dealing with a drug addiction themselves or knows a loved one that is under the control of a drug addiction should understand the short-term and long-term effects of meth abuse, signs of dependency, and what the current treatment options are.
The History of Methamphetamine
Just as with many other drugs that are now illegal today, methamphetamine was originally used for medical purposes as a mild stimulant. Doctors throughout the U.S. West Coast prescribed this stimulant as a cure for a broad range of illnesses such as asthma and narcolepsy. The first major meth epidemic took place in the 1950s in areas such as Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, California, and Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Both prescription and non-prescription forms of meth rose and fell in popularity, but changes to how meth was made in the 1990s created a new generation of meth users. Around 1994, new processing techniques made meth easier to develop and upwards of 6 times stronger than its medical counterparts.
The Short-Term Impact of Meth Abuse
Meth is an exceptionally powerful neurotoxic stimulant and can be made with a variety of household products and easy-to-acquire ingredients. The most common and immediate side effects of meth are a surge of energy and a feeling of well-being. Those that are addicted to meth may find themselves unable to functional normally unless they are high on meth or some other stimulant. The effects last for six hours, but continued use of the drug could have the effects lasting for 12 hours or longer. When coming down, the individual “crashes” and will often sleep or rest for an extended period. Other side effects include paranoia, euphoria, hyperactivity, appetite suppression, and aggressiveness.
The Long-Term Impact of a Meth Addiction
A meth addiction can cause irreversible damage to one’s body within a relatively short period. Because this drug is a stimulant, it may begin to damage the walls of the heart and blood vessels which will increase the user’s risk of an irregular heart, strokes, liver damage, kidney damage, and lung damage. Many addicts will also find themselves with a condition known as “meth mouth” after extended use. This type of drug will cause the salivary glands to dry out which will make the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease very high. Finally, addicts may become malnourished when they binge on the drug regularly which can exacerbate all other medical issues and make rehabilitation a lifesaving process.
Finding Help for Meth Addiction
One of the reasons that meth rehab can be so difficult is the fact that only the physical side effects of the addiction are treated in many cases instead of the root causes. After the detox period, addicts may want to consider heading into an inpatient program instead of heading back into their daily life with countless triggers and no way to deal with them. An inpatient rehab program will equip addicts with the tools that they need to not only move past the physical effects of withdrawal but to make the conscious decision to continue beating their dependency each and every day.