Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Abuse

Methamphetamine, or Meth, abuse is an all too common problem within personal and work environments. Chemically, meth is a psychotic stimulant which triggers a cascading chain reaction of neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.[1] These are part of the “reward system,” which activate after a job well done, family bonding, support of personal safety and care, and contentment with personal identity. Obviously, these chemical releases are powerful motivators and internal forces for receiving pleasure and satisfaction. When these neurotransmitters are over-stimulated, the person receives an enjoyable “high.” Meth severely over-stimulates these chemical balances and the result is deep dissatisfaction when the effect of the drug has worn off. Depression, paranoia, and a lot of sleeping are prevalent factors when abusing meth. What are some signs and symptoms of meth abuse in others?

Long-term physical symptoms are quite noticeable. Extreme weight loss and loss of appetite are two of the main signs of meth abuse. In fact, during subsequent withdrawal of using meth, severe hunger and cravings for different types of food can set in, due to the previous lack of appetite. Dilated pupils and quickly rotting teeth (known as “meth mouth”) are also common side effects. Physical shaking of the body, as if extremely cold, is common, along with nervousness, anxiety and large bouts of paranoia. Meth abuse affects the skin quite a bit, which becomes pale with acne and red splotches in some areas, and sometimes dry and itchy, though most meth users have a perpetual non-activity-induced sweat. Meth users have lots of temporary energy and can usually be highly excitable and physically active around the clock, including sudden bouts of talkativeness.

Psychologically, meth abusers experience excited emotional states, primarily of their dominant or frequently used emotions. This means that some meth users are extremely happy and filled with joy, while others become very paranoid and afraid, and still others become violent and very physically aggressive. Again, the primary emotion which is increased tends to be the dominant emotional state of the individual. Stimulated factors can also include sexual libido, general irritability or feelings of power and invincibility.

When investigating treatment for abuse of this drug, understand that prolonged usage and high dosage has a powerful, long-term effect on the body, causing it to suffer with up to several months of severe depression, sleepiness and feelings of suicide. Although effective treatment for meth addiction is possible, it is a long-term commitment and a painful process.

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1. “Methamphetamine Dependence and Treatment.” Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. www.turningpoint.org.au/library/cg_14.pdf.

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