Methamphetamines (MA) are stimulants that activate certain areas of the central nervous system including the brain. The structure of MA is similar to that of amphetamine. MA is highly addictive and is classified as a Schedule II drug meaning it is only available through a prescription by a medical doctor.
MA is a crystal-like powdered substance and is usually white or slightly yellow. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or even taken orally. Street names include meth, crank, crystal, or glass. Most MA comes from foreign or domestic laboratories where it is commonly manufactured. MA is a synthetic drug and is usually made in labs and is generally mixed or “cut” with other chemicals such as poisons or laxatives. MA is a Schedule II drug which means the drug carries a high potential for abuse even though it has some medicinal value. MA is abused primarily because of the effect on the individual and the relatively low cost of the drug. Side effects of MA use include increased energy, feelings of euphoria, and decreased appetite. These side effects make MA a popular drug among individuals who might need help with weight loss or completing tasks
The use of MA on a short-term basis might seem appealing; however, MA is highly addictive and serious psychological and physical repercussions can and do occur. Dependence on MA occurs when there is tolerance to the drug, preoccupation with the drug, and an inability to reduce or stop using the drug despite significant health or psychological problems.
Tolerance and withdrawal are significant in MA abuse as an individual will typically need more of the drug to obtain the same “high”. If withdrawal occurs, an individual may return to using the drug just to avoid the negative effects of withdrawal. Some individuals will not achieve the meth “high” as rapidly when snorting the drug or taking it orally, therefore, many will resort to injecting the drug directly in the bloodstream for a quicker effect. Dependence on MA is reported to occur according to the route of transmission. 67% of injectors and 58% of drug smokers are more likely to be dependent on the drug.
When an individual decides to stop using MA, the individual should do so under medical supervision as well as receive psychological intervention. MA withdrawal can be risky depending on the length of MA use. With long-term MA abuse, abrupt discontinuation is not advised as withdrawal symptoms can include severe depression with fatigue and cognitive impairments. Withdrawal symptoms can sometimes last several days or even weeks; therefore, interventions through medical supervision is advised.
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