Methamphetamine is such a highly addictive drug that users often ignore warnings on the drug’s harmful effects, thinking that they will not necessarily experience meth’s damaging results. With the first dose, users experience such a euphoric rush that these more and more of the drug is used to try to get the same results. This leads to increasing damage to the brain and the body. No matter what the meth user thinks, continuing use of this drug will lead to harmful results, and may even end in death. Learning these 5 things you need to know about methamphetamine can help to understand the drug’s dangers so that you can avoid using this harmful drug or seek help if you are already in the grips of a dangerous meth addiction.
Ingredients Used to Make Meth Can Harm or Kill You
Methamphetamine began as a prescription medication that was used to treat many disorder by the 1940s, including obesity, depression, and narcolepsy, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. However, today’s meth is not developed by pharmaceutical companies under quality control standards. Many of the ingredients in meth can harm or kill you when used on their own. Of the things you need to know about meth, knowing the ingredients may help you to better understand how use of this drug results in the many other harmful effects. In addition to ingredients typically found in decongestant and some cold medications, more harmful ingredients used in the production of meth include:
- Acetone from nail polish remover or pain thinner
- Anhydrous ammonia from fertilizer
- Hydrochloric acid, muriatic acid, or sulfuric acid from toilet bowl cleaner
- Lithium and battery acid from inside of batteries
- Sodium hydroxide, or lye, found in drain cleaner
- Toluene from pain thinner
If you read the packaging for these chemicals, most are considered to be poisonous if swallowed or inhaled, and many can eat away at tissue. The health warnings on these containers are valid, but meth users are putting these ingredients in their bodies every time they use the drug.
Meth Destroys Your Brain
Meth gives users a euphoric rush during use because of a sudden and intense increase in the neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine results in feelings of pleasure and can be naturally increased through pleasurable activities, including eating and sex. Dopamine has also been linked to the centers in the brain that control reward and motivation. A Frontline report on meth states that meth use raises dopamine levels much higher than any natural activity, as much as 12 times higher2. When meth users adjust to this excessive high, regular activities no longer bring any pleasure. Over time, the brain will no longer produce dopamine without the drug. The brain will no longer function properly due to many damaging changes caused by meth. Brain damage may occur, resulting in cognitive impairment, psychotic personality changes, anhedonia, and even death.
Meth Destroys Your Body
If you consider the ingredients used to make meth, you can understand that putting all of these chemicals in your body will lead to many damaging results. Every organ in the body is affected as tissue is destroyed, but the most pronounced damage typically occurs in the brain, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature can reach dangerous levels and may lead to cardiovascular collapse, organ failure, stroke, heart attack, coma, or death. Using meth can result in loss of control, resulting in promiscuous activity and sexual encounters that increase the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and hepatitis.
Meth Destroys Your Appearance
Many users do not exhibit the same changes in appearance as meth users shown in ads, especially new users. It takes using meth in large amounts or for a long period of time before drastic appearances actually occur. However, changes in appearance do occur. An intense itching and crawling feeling under the skin, often called “crank bugs”, results in scratching and digging in an effort to remove the bugs and relieve the unpleasant sensation. This results in wounds and sores, even on the face. These wounds often become infected and leave scars and disfiguration of the skin, especially on the face. The face can appear sunken from these scars, from excessive weight loss, and from breakdown of collagen and connective tissues under the skin. Between its acidic ingredients and other effects, meth dries out the mouth, eroding teeth and weakening gum tissue. This can result in excessive tooth grinding and the rotted-tooth appearance commonly known as “meth mouth”. As tooth grinding continues, damaged teeth can break and bone tissue in the jaw deteriorates, resulting in a sunken jaw.
Treatment Can Help You Overcome Meth Addiction
With all of the horrible consequences that surround users of meth, there is hope. With proper treatment and support, meth users can overcome this deadly addiction and may even regain some of their health and brain function. A supervised detox can help you better handle withdrawal symptoms, helping to reduce the risk of relapse, overdose, or death. While many forms of treatment can help you with your addiction, inpatient treatment may provide better success. During inpatient recovery, you have little or no access to the drug, allowing you to place more focus on your recovery. Although some of the devastating changes to the body caused by meth are permanent, research is showing that the brain may actually regain some of its lost function after a year of remaining free of meth.