In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 774,000 people currently used methamphetamines, with the bulk of those users — approximately 86% — being 26 and older.

Breaking Bad debuted on television in the late 2000s and continues today as a popular title to binge-watch, serving as many people’s main source of information on the dangers of methamphetamine addiction. In real life, where there’s no script and the cameras aren’t rolling, methamphetamines remain as deadly as ever. Not only did 15% of all drug overdoses in 2017 involve methamphetamines, but half of those involved additional synthetic opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 774,000 people currently used methamphetamines, with the bulk of those users — approximately 86% — being 26 and older.

First synthesized in the early 1900s for medicinal use, meth quickly became a powerful, highly addictive street drug that’s relatively inexpensive to produce and distribute. The only prescribed use for methamphetamines currently is for the treatment of ADHD and obesity.

The Truth About Methamphetamines

Usually smoked, snorted or injected, methamphetamine has a few street aliases including crank, crystal meth, crystal tea, ice, meth, and speed.

Produced for maximum potency, methamphetamines are far stronger than their amphetamine counterparts because greater amounts get into the brain. As a result, methamphetamine remains much longer in the body and has more harmful effects on the central nervous system. While it’s traditionally in a white powder form, meth is a bit of a shape-shifter. “Ice” resembles rock candy and is smoked in the same way as crack cocaine. The immediate, intense high and increased alertness is part of its popularity. 

Most methamphetamine in the United States these days is produced by transactional criminal organizations (TCOs) in Mexico. It can be easily manufactured in small laboratories with over-the-counter ingredients including pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medications.

Methamphetamine production also involves a number of other dangerous chemicals. The toxic effects from these substances can remain in the environment long after the lab has been shut down, causing a wide range of health problems for people living in the area. These chemicals can also result in deadly lab explosions and house fires.

Why Methamphetamine is So Addictive

Methamphetamine in crystal form (crystal meth) is also highly addictive for its rapid response. Not only is it a psychostimulant that increases the levels of three key neurotransmitters — dopamine (pleasure center), serotonin (well-being and happiness), and norepinephrine (stress hormone) — but the high is nearly instantaneous.

The user feels euphoric, uninhibited socially and sexually, and often has a sense of increased confidence and power. Of course, this doesn’t come without a litany of risks including increased transmission of infectious diseases, lasting behavioral changes, horrible withdrawals that make giving up methamphetamines exceptionally challenging, sweating, vomiting, tremors, insomnia, paranoia, hallucinations, and psychosis.

In addition to damaging the brain’s natural regulation of dopamine and serotonin, regular methamphetamine use can lead to skin lesions from repeated scratching and disfiguring dental damage that is so prevalent it’s known as “meth mouth.”

Hope for Those Battling Methamphetamine Addiction

Addiction to methamphetamine has serious implications for you or someone you love’s well-being and should be addressed immediately. At The Meadows Texas, comprehensive healing for every patient is the goal. Recovery from methamphetamine addiction is possible, but treatment needs to be focused on restoring the whole person. The physical and psychological effects of meth use should be addressed safely in a setting where both physical and emotional healing can occur. This strategy, quite the opposite of a quick fix, helps promotes long-term recovery with an emphasis on overall wellness moving forward.

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