The Dope on Crystal Meth
It’s one of the world’s most addictive drugs – users can become addicted after only one or two uses. Crystal meth can trigger dependency faster than almost all other illegal drugs – a testament to the drug’s considerable pleasures. Methamphetamine creates incredibly euphoric, pleasurable, and alert feelings over several hours. It does this by triggering the brain’s neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine. In fact it makes the brain release 10 times its normal level of dopamine, spraying the brain’s in its pleasure chemical like a Rain Bird – it’s been called “the mother of all dopamine releasers.” These type of dopamine levels can also present users with symptoms like those of paranoid schizophrenia. While dopamine regulates the brain’s reward and pleasure center, too much of it results in psychosis. Also in the process the drug destroys the receptors and as a result may, over time, permanently reduce dopamine levels. This can leave the user with Parkinson’s caliber like tremors and muscle twitches. Meth also increases the heart rate and blood pressure and cause permanent damage to blood vessels in the brain which can lead to strokes. But wait, there’s more: It can also cause arrhythmia and cardiovascular collapse, and possibly even death.
Meth and Violent Behavior
Meth has shown a clear correlation to very violent behavior. This is due in part to the kind of chemical interaction it causes. Meth causes a uncomfortable imbalance of chemicals all at once: paranoia from too much dopamine and irritability from low serotonin – the mood regulator – and a surfeit of noradrenaline, the ‘fight or flight’ chemical. Low serotonin levels are also associated with aggressive behavior.
Pleasure and Pain – a Whole Lot of Pain
Once it invades the brain meth takes over like a Machiavellian tyrant. After it triggers the release of neurotransmitters, it blocks their reuptake much like cocaine or other stimulants do. The difference is that unlike cocaine, meth also blocks the enzymes that help to break down invasive drugs. Methamphetamine remains active for 10 to 12 hours. Compare this to cocaine which remains active for 45 minutes. For this reason, meth remains one of the most difficult drugs to kick.
And its tyranny isn’t limited to the brain: meth can lead to body’s consumption of its own muscle tissue and facial fat. It causes acne and scarring, often from obsessive picking. Users can suffer from sensory hallucinations of insects crawling under their skin.
The chemistry of methamphetamine is relatively simple – it’s why crystal can be manufactured in kitchens by high school drop-outs. Common pills for cold remedies are often used as the basis for the production of the drug. Ingredients from those pills are extracted by ‘cooks’ who will increase the strength of those chemicals by combining such additives as battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel, and anti-freeze. These dangerous chemicals are potentially explosive which can make the manufacture of meth highly hazardous work.
Why Meth Is as Bad as They Say It Is
Here are three myths of meth you need to get out of your head:
- Meth won’t kill you: Not only can meth kill you, it can kill you instantly and leave a ravaged and unattractive corpse. Overdosing on meth can result in heart failure and stroke. Long term physical effects include liver, kidney, and lung damage. Put more officially, “long term adverse effects include dependence, cardiovascular complications, neurotoxic effects associated with the development of psychomotor disturbances similar to Parkinson’s disease and psychosis.” Meth can also instantaneously increase body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart rate, and bronchodilation. Simultaneously, it causes constriction of the arterial walls.
- There is a safe level of meth use: Nope. Meth is highly and almost instantly addictive. Many first time users can immediately become daily users. Meth significantly boosts the risk of stroke in young adults. Users are five times more likely to suffer a stroke.
- Meth doesn’t do permanent damage: No again. Meth is definitely not for the vain. It destroys your body’s structures, including blood vessels and other tissue, and impedes the body’s ability to heal.
To skin: Meth causes chronic abscesses and lesions on the skin. Even for those that quit and recover, they can still be left with extensive pock marks and scarring.
To teeth: Crystal meth is corrosive. When inhaled the smoke damages everything it touches – due to the toxic acids contained in the drug from its manufacturing process – particularly the inside of the mucosal linings of the mouth to the teeth. It causes severe tooth decay, black lesions, loss of teeth, gum disease, and bad breath. Cavities can get so bad that teeth eventually break off at the root. Teeth can also be worn down to nubs by the user’s constant grinding. Meth also shrinks the vessels that supply blood to oral tissues which to teeth and gums require to stay healthy. Meth users can withstand the severe discomfort because the drug can block or reduce the effects of dental pain.
For those who start young, meth creates greater and more widespread alterations in their brain than it does in adults who chronically abuse the drug. This is particularly evident in a part of the brain believe to control the “executive function.” This a part of the brain is still developing in young people and is critical for cognitive ability. Damage occurring to this part of the brain in adolescents is especially troubling because it regulates their ability to control risky behavior. It takes less meth to cause greater damage in adolescent brains. Meth users also face substantially higher risks of getting Parkinson’s disease.
If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.