Methamphetamine is a powerful, addictive drug that wreaks havoc on the minds and bodies of the people who abuse it. Smoking meth can lead to meth mouth, tweaking, and brain damage.
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What Is Smoking Meth?
Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant that is made from a combination of store-bought chemicals, with the most common ingredient being pseudoephedrine or ephedrine found in cold medicine. Other ingredients may include acetone, drain cleaner, and battery acid. The chemicals are cooked and turned into meth. The drug is usually consumed by injecting, snorting, swallowing, or smoking meth. Cooking meth is fairly simple, so most people making it have no chemistry training, but it is very dangerous and toxic to make. Some of the chemicals can ignite and explode if stored improperly, resulting in fires. Some chemicals can cause serious burns if they touch the skin. Even without a fire or direct touch, inhaling the chemicals from meth can result in disorientation, dizziness, damage to internal organs, and respiratory problems.
As much as 80% of the meth in America is cooked and transported from transactional criminal organizations (TCOs) in Mexico. American meth labs are decreasing due to drug enforcement laws and the fact that Mexican made meth is affordable and pure. To combat both Mexican and American meth production, both countries put restrictions on chemicals used to make meth, such as pseudoephedrine. However, Mexican manufactures are creating different processes that no longer require pseudoephedrine. In 2017, about 1.6 million Americans used methamphetamine.
Meth is an illicit drug, chemically similar to amphetamine which is used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Meth is cooked into a crystal form and is sometimes called ice, speed, crystal, or blue. It is extremely addictive and difficult to quit once a user starts.
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The Consequences of Smoking Meth
Meth is typically smoked from a small glass pipe in crystal form. Once inhaled, users experience a rush of serotonin and dopamine resulting in a euphoric feeling and sudden energy. After the initial rush, users may still feel effects of the drug for up to 12 hours. Users might also experience increased blood pressure, elevated body temperature, dilated pupils, and sleeplessness while under the influence of the drug. Smoking meth can result in lesions or burns in the mouth, on the lips, gums, and inside the cheeks. Continued meth use can result in “meth mouth.”
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Meth mouth is severe dental decay in a continued meth user’s mouth. Several factors contribute to meth mouth. When a user is high on methamphetamine, they might experience a craving for sugary foods and drinks, which can lead to tooth decay without proper dental care. Meth addicts often lack basic hygiene and will not floss or brush their teeth for prolonged periods of time. The acidic chemicals in meth are also damaging to the teeth. The first signs of tooth decay typically start at the gums, and then attack the teeth, causing the two front teeth to fall out first. Some common effects of meth are the user feeling anxious, hyper, and paranoid. Other common efects include euphoria, irritability, confusion, insomnia, and aggressiveness. The feelings of anxiety and overstimulation lead people to grind and clench their teeth which can cause them to break. The lack of pain users feel when smoking meth can lead them to not feel what is happening inside their mouths.
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To avoid withdrawal symptoms and the inevitable depression that comes with meth detox, users may keep smoking meth every few hours. The constant drug consumption keeps users alert and at a sustained high. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, tweaking is when a user has not slept in 3 to 15 days from abusing methamphetamine. Tweakers will feel irritable, paranoid, have a craving for more meth, and sometimes act violently. Physical signs include darting eyes, a quivering voice, and quick, jerky movements. This frantic behavior is seen in long term meth users.
Addicted to Smoking Meth
Long term meth use can result in brain damage, high blood pressure, stroke, liver and kidney damage, prolonged paranoia, hallucinations and delusions. One common hallucination is that insects are crawling under the skin, causing users to scratch and pick at the skin, tearing it open and creating sores that can lead to infection. There is a link between Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methamphetamine users. This infection spreads between users and is much more common in meth users than non-users. The motivation to continue using this dangerous drug is that long term users struggle feeling any pleasure at all besides getting high.
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The withdrawal symptoms from smoking meth that users feel are horrible, but usually resolved within 14 days. It is possible to recover from a meth addiction but the sooner someone seeks out treatment, the better.
Quit Smoking Meth Today
Long term meth use alters the brain and can make a life without methamphetamine seem daunting. If you or someone you know is addicted to smoking meth and want to start on the path to recovery, contact a treatment provider who can provide you with information on where to start. Treatment centers can aid in a safe detox from methamphetamine and find out the most successful treatment option for each individual.