What is Meth?

By: Chris Anderson Psy.D.

Methamphetamine is classified as a stimulant. It typically has a white or crystal appearance like glass fragments or small rocks. It is comparable to amphetamines which are used to treat ADHD but is a much stronger chemically enhanced variant. Most people are surprised to learn it has been around for over 100 years. Meth was originally created in a Japanese laboratory in 1919. It was given to military soldiers during World War II to enhance performance during sustained periods of combat. In the 1970’s motorcycle gangs were notorious for using and selling meth. In the 1980’s things began to expand into the southwest with homemade labs popping up all over the place.

How Do People Use Meth and What Does it Do?

Meth can be smoked, swallowed if in pill form, snorted, or injected if dissolved in water or alcohol. The effects of meth are similar to other stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine. Most people experience increased wakefulness, alertness, loss of appetite, increased body temperature, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure. Long term use can lead to anxiety problems, intense itching, skin sores, dental problems, weight loss, memory loss, sleep problems, paranoia, or psychosis. All these negative effects are often ignored or tolerated for the intense euphoric high that is delivered.=

Why is Meth So Addictive?

The main reason meth is so addictive is because of the potent and intense high and the duration of the high. Most people experience an instant high that can last between 8-12 hours. Other drugs often wear off in 2-4 hours. Meth use produces and releases large amounts of dopamine in the brain which creates a euphoric high. To give you an idea of the intensity and duration, let’s look at some of the ways dopamine can manifest. Dopamine naturally occurs with activities such as eating food or having sex. When eating people often have a level of 150 (percent of basal dopamine release) which drops off rapidly after eating. Sex and orgasm typically achieve a level of 200-250 for about 30 minutes. Stimulants like cocaine produce a dopamine level of around 300 for about an hour and then dissipates over another couple hours. Meth creates dopamine levels of around 1,100, dropping off to 500 after an hour, and can stay above 300 for 5 hours. That level of intensity that persists for that length of time is incredibly reinforcing and addictive.

Maple Grove Psychiatrists

If you, or a family member, are struggling with chemical abuse and are interested in talking with one of our providers about ways to treat your issues, feel free to contact IPC so you can schedule an individual consultation with one of our providers so we can help discuss treatment options. Please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete a thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

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