Methamphetamine is also known as meth, ice, crank, chalk, crystal, fire, glass, glow fast, speed, tina, T. It is a harmful, extremely addictive drug that can damage a person’s body and brain permanently. Methamphetamines are related to other family of drugs called amphetamines; the prolonged effects on the brain and central nervous system are what make it so dangerous. Meth is a synthetic drug, which means it is man made, created using make shift laboratories located in trailers, homes, vehicles, motels, and other type locations.
Meth is made using simple over the counter drugs like pseudo ephedrine, found in cold medications. This is mixed with other toxic chemicals that are unstable and very dangerous. These labs have caused fires and explosions that have damaged property and taken lives. Illegal meth is sold and used in pill, powder, or chunk form. It can be consumed by swallowing, inhaled, snorted, or injected. Inhaling or smoking the drug allows for a quicker effect on the brain, almost immediate. This sudden rush of euphoria is what makes the drug so addicting. Then, the pleasure fades quickly. This results in many users going on “binge and crash” systems of use, taking many doses over a length of time.
Meth effects the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for reward, motivation, experience of pleasure, and motor function. The incredible level at which methamphetamines release dopamine to pleasure center of the brain is what causes its signature, intense rush. This is what makes the user turn into an addict, chronic drug use and reuse causing dangerous need leading to consistent drug seeking and use. The methamphetamine addict becomes so addicted to the drug that they will do anything to get it, often depriving themselves of their basic needs; food or sleep.
Withdrawal symptoms also include stomach cramps, intense hunger, headaches, shortness of breathe, exhaustion and severe depression. The pain and anxiety from withdrawal creates a fear of experiencing it again, which increases the likelihood of repeated use. Which is why, including the need for the rush of euphoria, the user becomes addicted so quickly.
Five Most Common Signs or Symptoms of Withdrawal
Chronic use of methamphetamines will cause damage in all aspects of the addicts life. There are not any good results from using meth for extended periods of time. The addiction will cause you to lose your job, friendships, family, homes, and your health. The longer the drug is abused the more damage it will cause. The physical and mental damage caused by meth use are severe. The effects of withdrawal from methamphetamines are even more severe, causing user to keep using, but they are manageable under proper medical supervision.
Shaking and tremors are one of the top five signs and symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal. When an addict stops using meth, he or she stops the explosion of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical your body naturally produces that is essential for normal for performance of central nervous system. To make matters worse, after extended periods of abusing meth you reduce the number of dopamine receptors available. That means that there is not only less dopamine, but also fewer receptors that receive and interpret the dopamine. The shaking and tremors of the body are a result of the central nervous system attempting to regain control. The destruction from increased dopamine and less receptors throws the whole signal processes off balance.
2. Intense Cravings
Craving for methamphetamine is the first sign of methamphetamine abuse. As previously stated, meth reacts in the body almost immediately. This creates the surge of confidence, strength, and an over-powering feeling of assurance. This craving is very common in an addiction, but because of the severity of the effects of stimulant drugs, it is much worse with methamphetamine. The craving is in response to a few things going on in your mind and body. First, when an addict begins to feel the first signs of the drug wearing down, that intense euphoria is gone and other harmful feelings are felt; i.e. reality. This creates a powerful need for more meth. The second is the addicts urge to maintain that high he or she got from the drug, so they will want more. They will continue reusing the drug, with the high getting weaker and weaker with each use until there is no high at all.
3. Insomnia and Sleepiness (when detoxing)
Sleep is another top five effect of methamphetamine withdrawal. While on crystal meth you probably feel as though you never needed sleep ever again, during withdrawal it is the exact opposite. After extended periods of use the body eventually shuts down. It can no longer keep up with the effects the drug is having on the mind and body. The abuser will become almost lifeless during this ‘crash’, even though not too long ago they were the most violent and active physical version of themselves. This is most prevalent within the first week of withdrawal. Excessive sleep has been known to peak around the fifth day of withdrawal. A person going through meth withdrawal can sleep an average of eleven hours, barely able to stay awake enough to use the restroom. This is a phenomenon known as hypersonic. During this time it is common to experience vivid dreams, which subside after that first week.
4. Stomach Issues
Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are another common symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal. Opiate withdrawal is known to be the worst of all withdrawals, heroin being known as the worst, with meth a close second. Imagine having the worst flu ever; sweats, fever, shaking, diarrhea, pain, nausea, and vomiting. While knowing that another hit of meth will make it go away. Go away, only momentarily then this pain again and again until you fight through it all. The pain is excruciating because your pain sensors get turned back on, all at once, after being blocked for way too long while on meth. The addict will feel an immense urge for carbohydrates, mainly because they have not eaten. Crystal-meth users report that they have no urge or need to eat, which is not a good way to loss a few pounds! During the withdrawal period they will binge on sugars, starches, and breads to fill that void. Which will cause related digestive problems, on top of those that they are experiencing from the withdrawal.
5. Feelings of Depression
Deep, dark depression is one of the most common signs or symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal. Methamphetamine increases the amount of dopamine in the brain in the reward part of it, making that feeling of intense euphoria and assurance. Now that you’re going through withdrawal that pleasure is not there. The dopamine is no longer there, even worse the dopamine receptors have been reduced. So you have less dopamine and less of the receptors for dopamine in your brain. Long-term meth users have found themselves in a state of anhedoria, which is the inability to feel pleasure. The small things that would bring a smile to a normal person would not work for the crystal-meth addicts who are going through withdrawal.
Crystal-meth does so much damage to this part of the brain that it can take up to two years of keeping clean to restore normal dopamine function. Unfortunately, anhedoria state can lead to relapse, because they are simply too depressed to continue.
Methamphetamines are very serious drugs and addictions to them will be hazardous to your health. If you or someone you know is experiencing some of these symptoms it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Detoxification from any stimulant, crystal-meth included, should be conducted in a controlled facility with the proper medical supervision.