Why Do the Effects of Methamphetamine Last so Long?
People use methamphetamine because of its pleasurable effects such as increased alertness, decreased appetite, loss of inhibitions, feelings of self-worth and self-control. The effects generally can last between 6-8 hours, depending on various factors such as the health condition of a person, the amount taken, and many others, they can last even for 24 hours.
However, the drug is highly addictive and causes some health effects some of which are irreversible. At first, one enjoys and thinks its fun to take the drug, but in reality, it is destroying your life. But what is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a drug that belongs in the class of stimulants and mostly used as a white and bitter tasting pill or in powder form. Meth is the short form of methamphetamine and it is an illicit drug in the same classification as cocaine and other dangerous street drugs. Some of its nicknames are crank, chalk, and speed.
It has a structure similar to amphetamine with euphoric effects which are the same as those of cocaine, but they last longer. Also, it is cheaper and easy to make using ingredients that are common in the market. Amphetamine was discovered in the late 19th century and was medically administered to stimulate the respiratory system and decongest the nasal cavity system. Nowadays amphetamine is used to manage ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), obesity, and narcolepsy (sleep disorder).
Meth was used to keep the militants alert, boost their mood, and improve their endurance during World War II. Later around 1970s it was found out that it is highly addictive and was added to Schedule II list of controlled drugs. Its use is illegal, but it can be prescribed by doctors to manage a number of medical conditions.
Most of the meth is produced illegally and it is never pure. Various additives are used to make the drug many of which are not safe for human consumption. They increase the severity of the damage in organs, causes immune and neurological dysfunction. Some of the chemicals added may include talc, caffeine, lithium, ether, red phosphorous, sodium metal, alcohol, sulphuric acid, acetone, toluene, and other dangerous chemicals.
Meth alone without the additives is dangerous, and the addition of these chemicals amplifies the effects to the consumer. Researchers argue that it can alter the structural and functional system of the brain, some of which are irreversible. It is more harmful when combined with other drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and opiates.
One form that is common is crystal methamphetamine that appears as glass fragments or bluish shiny white rocks. Crystal meth is a short form of the drug. It is a drug that is consumed by all ages including teenagers, but mostly taken as a ‘club drug.’ Most people use it in parties and in nightclubs or when raving. Common street names of crystal meth are ice or glass.
It is a very harmful drug with potent chemicals and just like other stimulants, it first acts by stimulating the body and brain, but later it starts to systematically destroy the body’s organs starting with the brain. Crystal meth causes serious health complications such as loss of memory, heart diseases, damage to the brain, aggression, and psychotic behaviors. The highly addictive meth creates dependence on the user which is only relieved when one consumes more of the substance.
Nevertheless, consuming meth just once puts one at a greater risk of being hooked up to the drug. Its addiction can mess your life; destroy your relationships and crash your career.
How Meth is used
Meth is produced in various forms and so it can be consumed in various ways. It can be injected into the blood vessels, smoked, snorted, or swallowed like a tablet. Also, the manner of use can vary depending on the geographical area.
- Smoking or inhaling Meth
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Community Epidemiology Work Group Data, smoking is the most common form of consuming the drug. The crystal meth or the ice form of meth looks like blue-white rocks or glasses. It is smoked in small glass pipes known as ‘flute.’ Therefore, if you come across such pipes in your house or classroom, be sure that your loved one or students are abusing meth.
It can be smoked without adding any other thing or changing its form. Smoking meth can cause ‘meth mouth’ implying a dry mouth with corroded teeth and gums. Mouth decay, mouth sores, and gum diseases are common to people who smoke meth. Any kind of smoking puts the mouth, throat, and lungs at a high risk of developing complications.
Moreover, meth is processed with other harsh ingredients that are more harmful than the drug itself. Scientists are yet to discover whether methamphetamine smoke has effects to the second user. Besides, the exposure to the smoke can make one test positive for meth.
Office of National Drug Control Policy state that smoking is one of the common ways of consuming meth that lead to addiction. The euphoric effects are intense, but only last for few minutes, hence making the user have the urge to smoke more which leads to tolerance and later dependence.
- Injecting meth
Injecting meth is also known as shooting meth. When a person injects meth, commonly they do it to a vein. However, some people prick under the skin or into the muscles and inject the drug there. Most people inject into the veins since it is the fastest way and the effects are felt immediately. Also, they can be very intense and felt even before the needle leaves the arm.
Just the way in which the effects are felt quickly it is the same manner in which they depart leaving the user with strong cravings to inject it over and over again. This led to the phrase ‘binge and crash.’ It implies the repeated injections to maintain the euphoric effects and the crashing which occurs when the effects are no longer felt. The behavior can go for days making a person forget all his/her functions like eating, sleeping, and bathing in order to use the drug.
‘Binging and crashing’ speeds up the development of tolerance, meaning that one will have to inject dangerous amounts to experience the same effects. As one consumes more meth, the damage to the body gets worse and worse and it can lead to death. As one continues to prick the skin, ‘track lines’ or dark veins along the injection paths, rashes or ‘speed bumps’ and puncture marks appear on the skin.
Repeated injections can cause collapsed or decaying blood veins. Abscesses are very common to people who inject meth, and if not treated they can cost you a limb. The punctures on the skin put one at a high risk of contracting bacterial and viral infections such as Hepatitis and HIV. Moreover, sharing of the needles during injection makes the transmission easier. Engaging in risky sexual behaviors which is common after abuse of meth increases the risk of getting infected with HIV.
Overdosing is more likely with injections than through other methods and it can be fatal. Although it may not be lethal, effects like hallucinations and paranoia may persist for years. The repeated seizures and stroke due to an overdose can lead to permanent damage of kidneys, brain, and the heart.
This is done by new users. People who snort meth think that it is safer than injecting or smoking, but that is not the case. Consuming meth in whichever way puts one at a risk overdose, dependence, and other harm to the body. Snorting produces less intense effects than smoking and injecting which makes many users believe that the risk of addiction, overdose, and adverse effects are lesser.
The experience makes some of the users increase the amount they snort, putting them at high risk of an overdose. It also makes them to frequently snort causing stuffiness and nose bleeding. Nevertheless, research shows that snorting puts the users at these risks and many others.
Dangers of snorting include damage to the sinuses, nose bleeding, and increased heart rate, damage to the lining of the nasal cavity, increased blood pressure, and high body temperature. Continued snorting of meth can lead to depression, memory loss, dental problems, heart attack, stroke, and weight loss.
- Pill or ingestion
Meth was originally developed for medicinal use and was taken in form of a pill. Some people take it today that way. They either take it as manufactured pills, homemade pills or in other forms that allow ingestion. Effects of the drug are felt within 15-20 minutes after ingestion.
The Seven Stages of Meth Experience
Meth experience changes one’s perceptions, sensations, and feelings. The following are seven stages that one goes through after consuming meth;
This is what one experiences immediately after taking meth; either via smoking, injecting or snorting. At this time the heartbeat races, metabolism increase, blood pressure and pulse soar. Unlike other drugs such as cocaine whose rush can only go for only five minutes, meth rash can go on for almost thirty minutes.
- The high
The high or the ‘shoulder’ is what follows the rush. During the high, the user feels more aggressive, smarter, and becomes very argumentative. One often interrupts people while speaking and even finishes their statements. One can become very focused on a specific thing like cleaning the same cup for several hours.
A person feels more energized, more powerful, and full of energy beyond their normal experience. Although this can be a great feeling to the user, it can make one behave rudely and it causes huge problems. One feels socially outgoing and self-confident. Sadly, they can behave bizarrely and not feel like they are ridiculous to those around them. Many meth users lose their friends due to such behaviors.
High experience involves physical and psychological changes. This impact on how one feels and thinks. Euphoric effects or positive feelings are also felt during this stage. The enticing feeling makes people use meth and other drugs. Meth stimulates the central nervous system creating a positive feeling that motivates users who later become dependent on it. Other users become emotionally blunted; they become less aware of what they are feeling.
The feeling of ‘don’t care’ can help one to get relieved temporarily from stress and worries. Henceforth, some people use it to avoid painful memories or harsh situations. However, it acts as a temporary solution and even worsens the problems. Ironically, meth addicts take more meth in order to avoid the negative feelings caused by the meth usage.
Over time, a meth user stops caring about how they look or how other people perceive them. They stop taking care of themselves; don’t brush teeth and stop bathing. Emotional blunting and ‘don’t care’ feeling can make one stop taking care of their family or going to work.
- The Binge
It is no doubt that being high feels good. One becomes unaware of what is happening, how they look, how they are behaving, they feel more confident, more powerful, and more energized. This creates the urge to take the drug to maintain the experience. One uncontrollably consumes meth making them hyperactive mentally and physically. A binge can lead to tolerance in which one injects or smokes the drug but experiences a smaller rush, and later no rush and no high feelings.
This is the most dangerous phase. It is reached when a meth user stops feeling the rush or high effects of the drug. One is unable to relieve the terrible cravings thus losing one’s identity. Intense itching occurs that can make the user damage their skin. A person imagines bugs crawling on their skin, which they try to pick them repeatedly. This causes wounds and later scars referred to as ‘meth sores’ on the skin.
One is unable to sleep for even days at times and they are in a total psychotic state. They exist in their own world, hearing imaginary people talk and seeing things that no one can see them. Hallucinations at this stage seem very real to them since they are completely disconnected from the reality. One can become very hostile and can harm himself/herself. This stage is very unpleasant and dangerous as well.
- The crash
This occurs to binge users. The body shuts down and it is unable to withstand the effects of meth. It causes the person to sleep or become lifeless. Crash can go for 1-3 days.
After the crash, one experiences hangover that is characterized by dehydration, starvation, and tiredness emotionally, physically, and even mentally. It can take two to fourteen days. Hangovers lead to addiction or dependence as one tries to get a solution to the feelings by taking more and more of the substance.
Meth users can take between 30 to 90 days without noticing that they have withdrawn from the drug. When the withdrawal symptoms kick in, one becomes depressed at first, loses energy and they can no longer experience pleasure. Later, strong cravings for the drug hit and one contemplate about committing suicide. The withdrawal symptoms of meth are extremely unbearable and can trigger a relapse. Therefore, quitting on your own or using traditional methods to recover from meth addiction can be difficult.
How Meth Works
Euphoric effects of meth occur due to the secretion of high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for pleasure, motivation, and motor function. Just like other stimulants, meth creates a ‘binge and crush’ habit as users try to maintain the ‘high’ feeling. It acts on the region of the brain that generates reward feelings, thus increasing the craving.
Some people continually use the drug for days avoiding sleep, food, and other personal things until the quantity that they have is finished. Besides, the high levels of dopamine can make the drug more harmful to the nerve endings of the brain. This affects the transmission of signals from the brain to other parts of the body.
Meth is more dangerous than other stimulants or even drugs because a bigger percentage of it remains unprocessed in the body. This is the reason why the effects of meth stay for long since it is still present in the brain.
Medically amphetamine prescriptions range from 2.5 to 10mg and a maximum of 60mg daily. However, illegal meth is not regulated and one can’t know the quantity of the drug in each dosage. Unlike other substances, when one overdoses meth, they may take time before experiencing the effects. A person can take a very high quantity of meth and not realize instantly that they have.
A meth overdose is very common due to the short and intense euphoric effects of the stimulant. Some of the effects of an overdose of meth are excessive sweating, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, chest pain, agitation, extreme anxiety, seizure, and high temperature. The scary thing is that once the effects start occurring it is fast and can lead to death.
A meth overdose can cause kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and other body organ complications. Once you suspect someone is going through a meth overdose seek medical help immediately, it is the only way you can save their lives. Protect them from hurting themselves and use a cold cloth to cool them.
Signs of Methamphetamine Use
Meth strongly impacts the brain and the body, thus the signs that one is using could be visible. The following are some signs that a person could be using meth;
- Loss of interest in other things including their hobbies, relationship, and career goals. Meth use becomes their priority in life. The drug affects how a person thinks and feels. Where to get the next drug becomes more important than any other thing.
- Neglect relations such as family relationships.
- Isolating themselves from other people.
- Change friends.
- Financial problems such as debts as they try to maintain their meth use.
- Criminal or legal problems such as stealing or selling peoples properties to obtain money.
- Focus on a certain thing or task.
- They become forgetful.
- Violent and risky sexual behaviors.
- Sleep problems like insomnia and hyper-insomnia.
- Loss of appetite and clumsiness.
- Paraphernalia in their rooms, cars or personal areas such as aluminium foil, water or glass pipe, burned spoons, rolled pieces of paper, pieces of broken mirror or glasses, and needles or syringes.
Physical Signs of Meth Use
Meth affects most of the parts of the body and thus there are many identifiable physical symptoms that one can look out for in a loved one. They include;
- Excessive sweating
- Loss of weight and skin aging symptoms.
- ‘Meth mouth’ characterized by rotting, broken, and blackened teeth, broke
- Sores that take time to heal and dilated pupils.
Effects of Meth
Meth use harms the body, despite the form of consumption. When consumed it creates a false feeling of power, well-being, and energy. This causes one to push the body than it can go. Short-term effects include weight loss, insomnia, nausea, aggressiveness, and many others.
Long term effects of meth use can include liver, heart, brain, and lung damage, depression, stroke, the feeling of bugs crawling on the skin, tooth decay, breathing problems, suicidal thoughts, delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, psychotic behavior, tolerance, addiction, nerve damage, brain damage and many others.
Meth is a strong addictive that belongs in the class of stimulants. It is an illicit drug, but it can be administered to help in decongesting the nasal cavity. Meth is consumed in four ways; smoking, injecting, ingestion, and smoking. Whichever form of consumption, meth is dangerous and damages various parts of the body. Due to its short and intense effects, most people overdose without knowing. Additionally, the symptoms are not felt and can be fatal.
The drug has dangerous effects such as irregular heartbeat, liver, kidney, heart, and brain damage, paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, and many others. Although the withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, fatigue, unpleasant dreams, and many others are painful, with the help of specialists you can recover from meth addiction. Behavioral approaches like family therapy, individual counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapy are applied.