America’s Forgotten Drug Epidemic: Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance that can have severe consequences when abused. Unfortunately, the dangers and prevalence of this drug have been disregarded in recent years due to the opioid epidemic that has swept the nation. Knowing the facts about meth and the warning signs that someone may be abusing it is important and may potentially help prevent someone from suffering the consequences of this dangerous drug.

America's Forgotten Drug Epidemic- Methamphetamine

Nearly everyone is aware of the opioid epidemic that has swept the nation in recent years. While this epidemic is certainly tragic and has resulted in countless deaths, it has taken the spotlight away from other dangerous drugs of abuse. Methamphetamine is one of these drugs that has become increasingly popular and deadly among drug abusers but has not received the attention it deserves.

Methamphetamine Statistics In The U.S

While not talked about nearly as much as opioid abuse and addiction, methamphetamine abuse and addiction is a prevalent problem in the United States. Because of the potency of this drug, individuals can quickly become dependent and addicted to the substance. The more a person abuses meth, the more at risk he or she is for the negative consequences of the drug including overdose and even death.

Statistics of methamphetamine use in the United States include:

  • only an estimated 16,000 medical prescriptions were given for meth in 2012
  • in 2013, an estimated 59,500 people ages 12 and up used methamphetamine on a non-medical basis monthly
  • in 2013, approximately 1,187,000 U.S. residents used methamphetamine recreationally
  • more than 13 million Americans have used methamphetamine recreationally at some point in their lives
  • an estimated 10,333 people died in 2017 from meth overdose, which is an 18-fold increase from 2000
  • meth-related hospitalizations rose an estimated 245 percent from 2008 to 2015

These statistics make it clear that methamphetamine use has drastically risen in recent years and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is an incredibly potent stimulant substance that works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS). This drug was originally synthesized for medicinal purposes as a way to treat disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While still occasionally used in a medical setting, methamphetamine is primarily seen as a recreational drug of abuse.

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As a stimulant, methamphetamine increases activity in the CNS including the blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. This CNS stimulation can result in increased energy, focus, and excitement. It can also produce feelings of euphoria and pleasure due to the increased release of dopamine in the brain.

When a person is on meth, he or she will feel much more energetic and will need less sleep. Appetite will be decreased and focus will be heightened. Many people report feeling “invincible” when on this drug. Unfortunately, when the drug wears off, the effects are the opposite. A person who is coming off of methamphetamine may experience what is referred to as a “crash” and be extremely fatigued, agitated, and even depressed.

How Is Methamphetamine Used?

Methamphetamine can be found on the street in both pill and powder form. It may also be available in crystal form, also known as crystal meth. In pill or powder form, this drug may be referred to in various slang terms, including crank, speed, tweak, and beanies. In crystal form, it can be referred to as glass, crystal, blade, and ice, among others.

Meth can be ingested in a number of different ways depending on the form the drug is in. In pill and powder form this drug can be snorted and taken orally. It can also be dissolved in a solution and injected intravenously. When meth is in crystal form it is most often smoked using a glass pipe.

Widespread Consequences From The Methamphetamine Epidemic

Like many other addictions, methamphetamine abuse and dependence do not only affect the person addicted to the drug. Family, friends, and society as a whole can experience consequences as a result of the increasing methamphetamine epidemic.

Consequences of methamphetamine addiction include:

  • increased violent crime and theft
  • higher rates of prostitution
  • increased rates of illegal drug distribution
  • higher rates of incarceration
  • higher rates of stimulant-related deaths
  • increased homelessness

The more prevalent the methamphetamine crisis becomes, the more the nation will suffer as a whole from the abuse and addiction of this potent drug.

Symptoms Of Methamphetamine Abuse And Addiction

Due to the potent nature of this drug, people who are abusing it often exhibit a number of symptoms and signs that are noticeable to others. While many methamphetamine users tend to try to hide their drug use and abuse, knowing the signs of meth abuse and addiction can help you determine if a loved one is struggling with a methamphetamine use disorder.

Common signs that someone is abusing methamphetamine may include:

  • sores or scratches on the skin
  • deteriorating teeth and bad oral hygiene
  • obvious weight loss
  • red, swollen eyes
  • track marks on the arms or other parts of the body
  • possession of drug paraphernalia
  • paranoia
  • violent outbursts
  • sudden mood swings
  • symptoms of tweaking
  • withdrawal from friends and family
  • unexplained health conditions

The sooner a person seeks treatment for methamphetamine abuse and addiction, the better the chance he or she has at preventing dangerous side effects and making a full recovery. If you believe someone you love is addicted to meth, offering your support and help can potentially save your loved one’s life.

Getting Help For Methamphetamine Addiction

People who are addicted to methamphetamine will likely require formal treatment to successfully get and stay sober. Many individuals will need to begin treatment with a medically supervised detox program to safely and effectively withdraw from this drug. Once a detox program has been completed, patients will likely be recommended to enter into an inpatient rehab program to learn how to cope without the drug.

Addiction Campuses has several rehab facilities throughout the nation, all of which offer comprehensive treatment for methamphetamine abuse. To learn more about the methamphetamine epidemic or to get information on our treatment programs, contact our treatment specialists today.

The New York Times - https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/us/meth-crystal-drug.html

The Economist - https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/03/09/amid-the-opioid-crisis-a-different-drug-comes-roaring-back

Drug Enforcement Administration - https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/meth.pdf#search=methamphetamine

Kaiser Health News - https://khn.org/news/meth-vs-opioids-america-has-two-drug-epidemics-but-focuses-on-one/

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