Methamphetamine is highly addictive stimulant drug. It affects the brain’s system for reward by flooding the brain with dopamine and creating a sense of euphoria. Stimulant drugs increase heart rate, blood pressure, energy, concentration, and generally speed up the body. Methamphetamine has a high potential for abuse, and chronic abuse causes serious withdrawal symptoms. If taken in high enough doses methamphetamine produces post-acute withdrawal symptoms which persist for up to a year after the drug stops being taken. Chronic abuse can also cause amphetamine psychosis, which resembles schizophrenia, however, is generally resistant to typical treatments. Amphetamine psychosis can persist for up to six months after drug use is discontinued. Constantly flooding the brain with dopamine corrupts the body’s natural mechanisms for reward and pleasure, which causes abusers to feel depressed when drug use is discontinued. In addition to serious psychological withdrawal symptoms methamphetamine withdrawal causes physical problems. Methamphetamine abuse causes the health problems such as extreme weight loss and dental problems. Due to the severity of methamphetamine withdrawal, detox from the drug is emotionally and physically painful, and should be done under supervision of heath care professionals.
Methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine in Japan in 1893. In 1919 Akira Ogata synthesized crystallized methamphetamine from ephedrine and phosphorus iodine. In 1943 the Abbot laboratories requested methamphetamine approval for medical treatment by the FDA. The FDA approved it in 1944 for the treatment of narcolepsy, mild depression, chronic alcoholism, and hay fever. Eventually all of these approved medical treatments were revoked and methamphetamine became a federally scheduled drug. During world war two the Germans widely used and distributed methamphetamines without restriction. Methamphetamine currently has two approved medical uses, for the treatment of ADHD and short term treatment of obesity. Methamphetamine is now known mainly as a street drug and is commonly known as speed. Most methamphetamine in circulation today is cooked in house laboratories that are extraordinarily dangerous.
Methamphetamine is a schedule II drug. This means it has a high abuse liability, a medically approved use, and it is available only by prescription with no refills. Methamphetamine is classified as a psychomotor stimulant. It is illegal to possess without a prescription and is a federally controlled substance.
Similar drugs include other stimulants. The most similar are other psychomotor stimulants such as amphetamine, cocaine, and methylphenidate.
Meth is a very addictive drug with many negative consequences from abuse. Chronic meth abuse can cause the user to lose all their teeth very quickly. It can cause respiratory problems that can result in death. Many meth addicts experience the sensation of hallucination; a frequent one is the feeling that bugs are crawling under their skin. Addicts will scratch or pick at their skin causing sores and scabs in order to get the imaginary bugs of themselves. Meth is addicting because it releases dopamine into the brain flooding the brain with a sense of reward. The amount of dopamine released from methamphetamine use is unrivaled by the body’s natural mechanisms of reward. Eventually the person finds no normally pleasant and rewarding experience to be satisfactory. The only activity that produces the desired rush is smoking meth. As a result the person may stop eating, which causes anorexia.
Immediate withdrawal from methamphetamine causes severe distress. Detoxing patients may experience, vomiting and other flu like symptoms, extreme depression and suicidal thoughts, fatigue, irritability, aggression, and paranoia. Methamphetamine abuse can cause amphetamine psychosis, which resembles schizophrenia; this psychosis can last for up to six months after drug use has stopped. Symptoms of amphetamine psychosis are paranoid delusions, physical delusions, visual and audio hallucinations, and delusions of grandeur. Paranoid delusions include thoughts that people are trying to rob or kill you; the general thought, “Everyone is out to get you”. Physical delusions are physical sensations produced by the brain without actual physical causes. A common physical delusion for detoxing methamphetamine addicts is that bugs are crawling underneath their skin. Audio and visual hallucinations include hearing voices and seeing images. Delusions of grandeur are beliefs that the person is extremely important; a common delusion of grandeur is the belief that the individual is Jesus Christ or other religious figures. Methamphetamine withdrawal can cause post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Post-acute withdrawal is withdrawal from the drug that lasts for up to a year after drug use continues. Generally, these symptoms include chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, increased appetite, irritability and headaches
Methamphetamine addiction is one of the hardest drug dependencies to treat. Although one may only test positive for meth for approximately 3 days, the long term effects of the drug can take years to recover from.