Crystal methamphetamine (meth) is a man-made drug which causes a powerful rush of dopamine to the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical, often called the “feel-good” hormone, that produces feelings of euphoria, pleasure, confidence, energy, and concentration in the user. The intensity of the euphoria leads many users to be hooked quickly. This highly addictive drug may be smoked, swallowed, snorted, or injected intravenously.

Brain chemistry changes as drug use continues, causing the user to build up a tolerance so that he or she needs more to achieve the desired result. Addiction to meth is both physical and mental, with serious, often deadly, consequences.

Physical addiction

Chronic use of meth often causes irreversible damage to the brain, central nervous system, and to major organs. Meth addiction may lead to serious, chronic health conditions, which may in turn lead to death.

  • Stroke could result from damaged blood vessels in the brain.
  • Irregular heartbeat, increased heart rate and blood pressure may increase risk of stroke or heart failure.
  • Higher risk of HIV or Hepatitis C for those who use needles.
  • Risk of infections in the blood and heart lining.
  • Inability to feel pleasure without continued use of meth.
  • Physical changes to brain may affect motor function, memory, and cognitive skills.
  • Liver, kidney, lung damage.
  • Hyperthermia, or elevated body temperature, and convulsions, which can lead to death.
  • Parkinson’s-like symptoms such as twitching are possible.
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and intense cravings.

Mental addiction

According to the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse, meth addicts often display symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, confusion, and violent behavior. Further, the NIH reports addicts may exhibit paranoia, hallucinations and delusions. Even if an addict successfully recovers from addiction to methamphetamines, symptoms can continue for an extended period.

  • Bursts of energy and excitement can cause users to go days without sleep or food.
  • Harm to self or others can result from aggression, hallucinations, paranoia, and confusion.
  • Damaged interpersonal relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Once the high wears off, the lack of dopamine in the brain can result in deep depression.
  • Inability to function effectively in daily life without compulsively thinking about and craving the drug.
  • Financial problems, missed work, and possible jail time.
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