Methamphetamine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant made from pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in decongestant cold medications, and a number of toxic chemicals (e.g., lye and drain cleaner). Also referred to as meth, crystal meth, speed and ice, methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that is chemically similar to amphetamines and produces similar physical effects.
Illicit methamphetamine is sold as a white crystal-like powder that can be snorted, smoked, injected, dissolved in water or alcohol, and is the most commonly abused form of the drug. A prescription methamphetamine medication, called Desoxyn, is available for short-term weight loss and treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it is rarely prescribed.
A Schedule II stimulant, methamphetamine is prone to abuse and addiction. Owing to its addictive nature and extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, a successful addiction treatment at methamphetamine detox centers involves a combination of detox program and addiction therapy sessions under supervised medical care.
How does it work?
The pleasurable and rewarding effects of methamphetamine are due to the release of high levels of a brain chemical called dopamine. Similar to cocaine, methamphetamine blocks the reuptake of dopamine; at the same time, methamphetamine increases dopamine release, which can lead to toxic concentrations in the synapse. Researchers believe that methamphetamine’s action on dopamine release is how the drug damages the brain’s nerve terminals.
Methamphetamine abuse: Short-term effects
Immediately after methamphetamine enters the body, it causes an intense euphoric and pleasurable “rush,” but the “high” produced by the drug dissipates quickly (called a “crash”), lasting only a few minutes.
The effects of methamphetamine are long-lasting; only about half of the drug is removed from a person’s body in a period of 12 hours. Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant that has a number of negative short-term effects.
At high doses of methamphetamine, overdoses can occur that can cause convulsions, seizures and other problems and even lead to death. Following are some of the short-term effects of methamphetamine abuse.
- Decreased appetite
- Increased respiration and blood pressure
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Severe itching
- Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
- Increased motor activity
- Erratic or bizarre behavior
- Violent behavior
- Dilated pupils