Methamphetamine (Meth) —What It Is and What It Does

Methamphetamine is a drug that causes over-stimulation of the body’s nerve endings to increase energy and focus, elevate one’s moods and produce false feelings of euphoria. Much like the effects of cocaine on the brain’s dopamine receptors, methamphetamine clicks into dopamine receptor docks to let the brain know it should release dopamine. When adolescents take this drug, the repercussions on the brain and body are immediate and substantial, with a high risk for long term damage.

The high point or “rush” from methamphetamine typically peaks minutes after taking it and can last for up to 12 full hours. Because the high quickly ebbs after the initial euphoria, users often take more of the drug within a single session creating a “binge” habit necessary to extend the high. The contrast between the extreme high and extreme low when taking meth only serves to strengthen the addiction.

Methamphetamine Used in Medicine

For adolescents that struggle with conditions such as narcolepsy, stimulants like methamphetamine are meant to stimulate brain function to maintain wakefulness. Adolescents are sometimes prescribed medical forms of methamphetamine to treat conditions like ADHD as well. Unfortunately, in addition to helping children focus more effectively, methamphetamine interferes with the brain’s natural ability to improve focus and connection using behavioral training tactics. Tolerance of stimulant drugs like these can become a problem, as children then need higher doses of the drug over time to maintain the effects.

In addition to the derivatives of methamphetamine that might be prescribed by a physician, there are street forms of methamphetamine which mimic the same assumed attributes of these drugs. Crystal Meth, the rock-like version of methamphetamine, is produced in illegal labs and often smoked which allows the drug to more quickly enter the bloodstream and communicate with the brain.

Forms of Methamphetamine and Methods of Use:

  • Powdered form, taken by snorting
  • Powdered form, dissolved into liquid like water or alcohol
  • Pill form that can often be pink, yellow or blue
  • Crystallized rock, which is smoked
  • Powder dissolved into solution and injected directly into the bloodstream

Psychological, physical and emotional (short-term and long-term) effects of meth include:

  • High-level mood swings
  • Emotional instability
  • Violent behavior
  • Inability to retain memory
  • Depression
  • Periodic hallucinations
  • Intense tooth decay
  • Acne and other skin conditions
  • Acute signs of premature aging
  • High blood pressure, potential for blood clots
  • Increased heart rate that can lead to stroke and potential for heart attack
  • Decreased liver and kidney function
  • Difficulty breathing, especially when smoking is the primary method of ingestion
  • Delusions
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Unnatural weight loss and lowered appetite
  • Sleep disruption
  • Reduced cognition
  • Upset stomach, long-term digestion trouble
  • Early onset Alzheimer’s disease

The long-term effects of methamphetamine can be devastating to your adolescent’s health, so identifying the issue and responding quickly are critical. At Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, adolescents and their families work in therapy to reconnect and understand the problems associated with meth addiction, as well as the consequences of long-term use. Stonewater addiction treatment programs support emotional, physical and spiritual wellness that are nourished through family, peer group and individual therapies.

If you have questions about methamphetamine addiction and how to start the recovery process with Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, call us at 662-259-8474.