Just as cocaine had risen to the top of the list of the most widely abused drug, there’s always a newer, cheaper, faster-working drug ready to take its place at the top of the list. Crystal meth is classified as a Schedule II drug because of its potential for abuse, addiction and extreme health risks. In fact, meth is looked upon as one of the world’s most addictive substances. Meth produces intense feelings of pleasure by spiking the body’s dopamine levels to heights almost unheard of. The brain then registers the experience as a “hard-coded” memory and seeks to recapture the feeling repeatedly.
What is Crystal Meth?
The term “meth” is an abbreviation of the word methamphetamine. The crystal version is simply due to the “cooking” or crystallization of the substance. This leaves us with the most potent amphetamine available with clear activity at extremely low doses. Crystal meth is commonly used orally, smoked (vaporized), by injection, rectally (plugging), and by nasal insufflation (snorting).
Crystal meth is most often smoked and, in this form, is very addictive within a super short time-frame. It produces, what users report to be, an incredible euphoria as soon as it hits the bloodstream. Although it usually takes only one “puff” to start feeling euphoric, it only takes that same one puff to become addicted. It typically hurtles users between feelings of intense pleasure, and dark depression once the effects wear off – therefore leaving the user desperately looking for their next dose.
How Does Meth Work?
Since meth belongs to the amphetamine family of drugs, it works much in the same way as many other amphetamines/stimulants. Since meth induces the release and inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, it sends pleasure impulses to the brain which results in the creation of strong but artificial pleasure sensations.
Compared to other amphetamines, methamphetamine can produce the strongest dopamine increase and the most powerful stimulation, for the longest duration. The effects can last over 48 hours, making it one of the most effective “highs” and most addictive drugs available on the streets.
With such a huge change in neurotransmitters, the brain quickly becomes accustomed to the effect and dependent on the drug. Since this can happen within the first or second time using, it’s obvious that the drug would be so highly addictive and dangerous.
What Creates the Addiction?
Primarily, it’s the chemical release of dopamine in the brain and the fact that the brain so easily becomes accustomed to it. The immediate rush of pleasure sets up the reward complex in an instant. That is why is meth so addictive.
Actually, dopamine is released in response to a variety of natural stimuli as well. Things that cause pleasure, such as sex or exercise, do so because of a dopamine release. Since using meth seems so simple as compared to the extreme effect one gets from it, the reward seems just that much better.
People who are addicted to crystal meth are more likely to overdose than those who are just trying it for the first time. You may think that it would be the other way around, but heavy users often try to catch the feeling they got when first using and will go to extremes, and larger doses, to get there.
Common effects caused by heavily addictive use:
- Severe insomnia
- Irritability, agitation, anger, and resentment
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin infections
These signs indicate that the user is taking high doses and feeling the effects of withdrawal as soon as the stimulant wears off. Methamphetamine abuse can be grounds long term damage to your body, causing ailments like heart damage, kidney failure, coma, and death. So, it’s obvious that the first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem and stop using.