How is meth abused?
Methamphetamine — a potent and highly addictive stimulant — abuse remains an extremely serious problem in the United States. But the consequences of methamphetamine abuse are terrible for the individual: psychological, medical, and social side effects can ruin a meth addict’s life. The good news is that drug abuse can be prevented. Plus, addiction to meth can be treated.
So, how can meth be abused and what are the side effects of its abuse? We provide the answers in the text below. Then, we invite your questions about signs of meth problems in the comments section at the end. We try to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt reply.
Can meth be abused?
Yes, meth can be abused.
In fact, any time that you use methamphetamine for euphoric effect, you are abusing it. What are the features of this particular type of drug abuse? Because the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine disappear even before the drug concentration in the blood falls significantly, users try to maintain the high by taking more of the drug. In some cases, abusers indulge in a form of binging known as a “run,” foregoing food and sleep while continuing to take the drug for up to several days.
How meth is abused
Methamphetamine use for medical purposes is restricted to methamphetamine salt combinations used to treat ADHD and sleep disorders. When abused, meth is taken orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected. Smoking or injecting the drug delivers it very quickly to the brain, where it produces an immediate, intense euphoria. This immediate, intense “rush” amplifies the drug’s addiction potential and adverse health consequences. The rush, or “flash,” may last only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. However, because the pleasure also fades quickly, users often take repeated doses, in a “binge and crash” pattern.
Snorting or oral ingestion of meth produces euphoria – an intense sense of well-being, or a high – but not an intense rush. Snorting produces effects within 3 to 5 minutes, and oral ingestion produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes.
Meth abuse side effects
Even in small doses, meth can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. Methamphetamine can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions may occur with methamphetamine overdose and, if not treated immediately, can result in death.
Signs of meth abuse
In addition to becoming addicted to methamphetamine, chronic abusers may exhibit signs that can include:
- significant anxiety
- mood disturbances
- violent behavior
They also may display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual or auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping under the skin). Psychotic signs of meth abuse can sometimes last for months or years after a person has quit abusing methamphetamine, and stress has been shown to precipitate spontaneous recurrence of methamphetamine psychosis in formerly psychotic methamphetamine abusers.
Questions about abusing meth
Do you still have questions about how people abuse meth or its negative consequences? We invite you to post your questions here. And if we don’t know the answer to your question(s), we’ll refer you to someone who does.
Reference sources: NIDA: DrugFacts – Methamphetamine
NIDA: Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction
Photo credit: NIH Science Education