|What are the signs
and symptoms of Methamphetamine use?
In large doses, methamphetamine's frequent effects are irritability, aggressive behavior,
anxiety, excitement, auditory hallucinations, and paranoia (delusions and psychosis). Abusers
tend to be violent. Mood changes are common, and the abuser can rapidly change from
friendly to hostile. The paranoia produced by methamphetamine use results in
suspiciousness, hyperactive behavior, and dramatic mood swings.
meth use can lead to psychosis that mimics paranoid schizophrenia"
Dr. Richard Wise of Pathways Treatment Center
Methamphetamine appeals to drug
abusers because it increases the body's metabolism and produces euphoria, increases
alertness, and gives the abuser a sense of increased energy. High doses or chronic use of
methamphetamine, however, increases nervousness, irritability, and paranoia. The extreme
paranoia that methamphetamine abusers can experience is often associated with a distorted
tendency toward violence. Adverse consequences of methamphetamine abuse include the risk
of stroke, heart failure, and prolonged psychosis.
Traditionally associated with
white, male, blue-collar workers, is now reportedly being used by diverse groups in all
regions of the country.
Because methamphetamine use is
spreading rapidly in the United States, knowledge of the drug, coupled with the ability to
recognize the different patterns and stages of abuse, is becoming increasingly important
to medical personnel and law enforcement officers.
Methamphetamine abuse has three
patterns: low intensity, binge, and high intensity.
Low-intensity abuse describes
a user who is not psychologically addicted to the drug and who administers the drug by
swallowing or snorting it. Binge and high-intensity abusers are psychologically
addicted and prefer to smoke or inject methamphetamine to achieve a faster and stronger
high. The binge and high-intensity patterns of abuse differ in the frequency in which the
drug is abused. In addition, while the binge pattern of abuse has seven stages within its
cycle-rush, high, binge, tweaking, crash, normal, and withdrawal-the high-intensity abuse
pattern usually does not include a state of normalcy or withdrawal.
The most dangerous stage of
methamphetamine abuse for abusers, medical personnel, and law enforcement officers is
A methamphetamine abuser who is tweaking,
has probably not slept in 3-15 days and, consequently, will be extremely irritable and
paranoid. A tweaker does not need provocation to behave or react violently, but
confrontation increases the chances of a violent reaction. If the tweaker is using
alcohol, his negative feelings and associated dangers intensify.
Compared with cocaine, which is metabolized rapidly in the body, methamphetamine is
metabolized slowly; up to 2 days are required to eliminate a single dose. Rapidly
absorbed when taken orally, the effects of the drug peak within 2 to 3 hours and are
measurably effective in the body for up to 8 hours.
One of the main arguments in determining whether or not a substance is capable of
producing physical addiction (dependence) is the ability to produce a withdrawal syndrome
similar to that of narcotics and central nervous system depressants. Once it was
discovered that each drug produces its own unique pattern of effects, more drugs then were
identified as having addiction potential. Repeated use of high-dose methamphetamine
produces such a pattern.
Several hours after the last use,
the individual experiences a drastic drop in mood and energy levels. Sleep begins and may
last for a long period and, upon awakening, severe depression exists that may last for
days. While users are in this depressed state, suicide is a major concern. These symptoms
occur after use and may be reversed by taking another dose of methamphetamine, thereby
fitting the definition for a withdrawal syndrome.
- fatal kidney and lung disorders
- possible brain damage
- disorganized lifestyle
- permanent psychological problems
- violent and aggressive behavior
- weight loss
- behavior resembling paranoid schizophrenia
- decreased social life
- poor coping abilities
- disturbance of personality development
- lowered resistance to illnesses
- liver damage
Methamphetamines stimulate the central
nervous system, and the effects may last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. Like cocaine, it is
a powerful "upper" that produces alertness, and elation, along with a variety of
adverse reactions. After the effects of methamphetamine wears off, it can cause severe
withdrawal that is more intense and longer lasting than both speed and cocaine. After the
initial "rush," there is typically a state of high agitation that in some
individuals can lead to violent behavior.
The effects are not only long lasting,
but continue to cause damage to the user long after use has stopped.
Methamphetamine abuse can also lead to legal, financial, and social problems.
Addiction to methamphetamine can be very strong, therefore withdrawal symptoms are likely
when use of the drug is discontinued.