What to Know About Meth Addiction In Vermont
Meth addiction is prevalent all around the country, even in Vermont. Also called blue, speed, crystal, or ice, meth is a synthetic drug, manufactured in a lab. Most meth is illegally produced, so it is unregulated, which makes it very dangerous. There is no way for a user to know the dosage or purity of the drug they are taking. Many dangerous chemicals are used in the production of meth, and can contaminate the lab environment, and cause explosions or fires. Even after production of the drug has ceased, the toxic residue can cause health problems for anyone who is in the area.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns that drug dealers frequently mix the opioid fentanyl with meth, “…because it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a cheaper option. This is especially risky when people taking drugs don’t realize they might contain fentanyl as a…dangerous additive.” According to the NIDA website, “Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States.”
Revised statistics recently published by the NIDA found, “In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid, with half of those cases related to the synthetic opioid fentanyl.”
How Does Meth Affect the Body and Brain?
Meth works by triggering the brain to release increased levels of dopamine, one of the primary chemical messengers that affect pleasure, body movement, and motivation. High levels of dopamine result in euphoria, increased energy, and a heightened sense of well-being. Although this same response can occur naturally in the body when experiencing a pleasurable event, it occurs at an artificially intense level when meth is used. Meth delivers such a desirable response it reinforces drug-taking behavior as users seek to re-experience the heightened sensations.
Regular use of meth quickly builds tolerance, requiring an increasingly greater dose of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Over time, the brain can permanently adapt to the presence of meth, becoming unable to produce feelings of pleasure without the drug.
Short-Term Effects Of Methamphetamine
According to the (NIDA) website, immediate and short-term effects from meth use may include: euphoria; heightened focus, attention, physical activity and wakefulness; increased body temperature (hyperthermia); increased blood pressure; decreased fatigue; decreased appetite; fast breathing; and rapid or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Even in the short term, these effects can be deadly. Any or all of these effects can damage the body. Especially dangerous are arrhythmia and high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, and hyperthermia, which can damage the heart, brain, kidneys, and other organs.
Users who inject meth have a greater risk of contracting HIV, and hepatitis B and C. This is especially true for those who share needles, as these infectious diseases can be transmitted from bodily fluids transferred via the needle by other users. For those who have HIV/AIDS, meth can worsen the disease and increase its progression.
As with any mind-altering substance, meth affects judgment and may contribute to risky behavior, including the concurrent use of alcohol and other drugs, and unprotected sex.
Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine
Long-term use of meth presents serious, well-documented consequences. The NIDA website warns long-term use can result in:
- extreme weight loss, malnutrition
- severe dental problems (“meth mouth”)
- intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching
- changes in brain structure and function
- memory loss
- sleeping problems
- violent behavior
- paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
- hallucinations—sensations and images that seem real though they aren’t
Although some brain changes may reverse after being off the drug for at least a year, some changes in brain structure can be permanent. This can result in lasting emotional issues, learning and memory deficits, and impaired motor skills. The NIDA cites a study by Indiana University that found a correlation between meth and Parkinson’s disease, concluding, “people who once used methamphetamine have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the nerves that affects movement.”
The effects of meth on the body can also be permanent. This can range from lung damage caused by smoking meth or infectious disease, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, damaged nasal passages from snorting meth, liver damage, and severe damage to the cardiovascular system.
A meth overdose can be fatal. The most common symptoms of overdose include dangerously high body temperature and blood pressure, and irregular or rapid heart rate, which can result in a stroke, heart attack, or other severe reaction. There is currently no FDA approved medication to treat or reverse an overdose, but rapid medical intervention can save lives. If you suspect an overdose, immediately call 911.
Meth Addiction Treatment & Recovery
At River Rock Treatment we combine a holistic approach with a long term treatment plan to provide a safe, transformative recovery process.