Short-Term Effects From Methamphetamine Abuse
Methamphetamine is one of the most potent and addictive stimulants abused within America today. In the short-term, methamphetamine abuse can cause a rush or euphoric state and surges of energy. These pleasurable effects drive abuse of this drug. But even intermittent, recreational abuse can quickly turn into addiction or a fatal overdose.
The strongest forms of meth are produced in illegal laboratories. These versions take the form of a powder, referred to as “crystal; a glass-like crystal, referred to as “glass” or as a bluish-white rock referred to as “ice.” Meth is also referred to as meth or crystal meth.
In addition to these illicit versions, methamphetamine is produced as a prescription drug for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity. These medications take the form of a pill and are prescribed quite rarely. The prescribed version, Desoxyn, isn’t nearly as strong as illicit meth. Despite this, this medication is still diverted and abused.
Methamphetamine abusers smoke, snort, inject or swallow the drug. The sensation produced by smoking the drug is frequently referred to as “amping.” No matter how this drug is consumed, it has the potential to form a strong physical dependence and addiction. Meth can also form an intense psychological addiction. The best programs understand this dual effect and create a treatment plan which addresses both facets of addiction.
The Short-Term Side Effects And Dangers Of Methamphetamine Abuse
Methamphetamine goes to work quickly, stimulating the central nervous system (CNS) to produce heightened physical and mental activity. Peak euphoric states are felt for five to 30 minutes, though individuals may feel certain feel-good effects for as long as six to 12 hours.
In comparison to other stimulant drugs like amphetamine, the effects of meth last longer and are felt more strongly. This combination makes meth very attractive to recreational drug abusers. But even in the short term, meth places a user’s body and brain under considerable strain.
Short-term effects of meth abuse include:
- appetite suppression
- bursts of energy
- dilated pupils
- dry mouth
- euphoria and rush
- excessive sweating
- extreme wakefulness
- greater attention
- increased activity
- unpleasant breath
- unsafe sex
As a person’s CNS is stimulated it speeds up. This is why meth is often referred to as an “upper.” When the CNS goes into overdrive, a person’s blood pressure, breathing, heart and temperature rates become to climb. The heart rate may also become irregular.
Methamphetamine can cause a person to act in unexpected and strange ways. Some individuals may become extremely paranoid, believing that everyone is out to get them.
As meth makes a person more active, certain activities may be hard to control. Some individuals will begin to engage in repetitive and pointless tasks. People may also encounter uncontrollable physical movements, such as tremors or jaw clenching.
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The Binge And Crash Cycle Of Meth Abuse
Even though a handful of pleasurable effects remain for hours after using meth, the high fades rather quickly. To avoid this, many meth abusers take the drug repeatedly. This behavior is called binging.
While the high from meth can be extreme, the low which follows can be equally intense. This up and down cycle is referred to as a “binge and crash” pattern. During the low, an individual may be overwhelmed by a severe depression. To avoid this and other unpleasant feelings, many meth abusers use the drug in an extreme form of binging termed a “run.”
During a run a person takes meth every few hours for an extended period of time. Within this period most people refrain from eating or sleeping, the results of which can cause long-term damage. A run may last for several days.
What Does “Tweaking” On Meth Mean?
A person may not sleep for between three and 15 days while on a run. This is one of the most dangerous periods of short-term meth abuse. At this time a person will likely become highly irritable and paranoid, behaviors known as “tweaking.”
A large amount of this irritability comes from the tweaker’s inability to achieve the sensations of their original high. What follows can be unpredictable, erratic behavior which results in violence, crime, domestic disturbances and car accidents.
Physical signs of tweaking include:
- fast, jerky movements
- a quivering voice
- rapid eye movements
It’s very dangerous to interact with a person when they are tweaking.
Meth Intoxication Can Cause Brain And Organ Damage
Meth intoxication can cause a person’s body temperature to climb to dangerously high levels. This state is referred to as hyperthermia. Hyperthermia has been shown to cause brain and organ damage.
These extreme temperatures place the brain under immense pressure. As a result, the blood-brain barrier may begin to leak. The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from toxins and pathogens which reside throughout the body. Should this barrier be crossed, these harmful agents could begin to attack a person’s brain. Hyperthermia can also cause brain edema or swelling and fluid retention in the brain.
The liver is hit particularly hard by these rising temperatures. Acute liver toxicity, liver damage and liver necrosis (death of the liver cells) may result from acute meth intoxication. As the body’s temperature rises, muscle damage, vascular damage and a weakened immune system may also occur.
Short-Term Abuse Of Meth Can Cause Death
Short-term abuse of meth can be life threatening. This is because meth has unique properties which allow it to cross the blood-brain barrier quickly and efficiently. This action is partly why meth is so potent and long lasting.
It can be very dangerous to experiment with meth. Even a single dose can cause intense physical harm, overdose or death. Short-term abuse of meth has been linked to seizures and increased rates of sudden death.
Symptoms of overdose from meth include:
- difficulty breathing
- severe stomach ache
- stopped or irregular heartbeat
In the most serious of cases an overdose will cause a person to slip into a coma. During overdose, a person’s body temperature will continue to climb to dangerous extremes.
Getting Help For Meth Abuse And Addiction
Meth abuse can rapidly form physical and psychological addictions. In order to create the most successful, sober life, treatment must address the physical and mental health effects of meth abuse.
Behavioral therapies offer one of the greatest impacts within methamphetamine addiction. These therapy sessions teach a person to resolve any negative thoughts, behaviors or emotions which may be feeding their addictive lifestyle. During these sessions a person also learns to cope with cravings and the challenges of a newly-sober life.
Contact AddictionCampuses.com to learn how to build a life free from methamphetamine abuse.
Center for Substance Abuse Research — Methamphetamine
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Methamphetamine: Research Report Series, What is Methamphetamine?
US National Library of Medicine — Acute Methamphetamine Intoxication: Brain Hyperthermia, Blood-Brain Barrier and Brain Edema