What Is Methamphetamine Use Disorder?
Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that directly affects the central nervous system. The common illegal form of this stimulant is crystal methamphetamine, which appears like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks. It is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.
It is taken in forms such as:
- Swallowing in pill form
- Injecting a powder that has been dissolved in water or alcohol
It is common for individuals to often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern due to the euphoric high from the drug which both starts and fades quickly. In some cases, people take the drug in a form of binging known as a “run”, which means they give up food and sleep while continuing to take the drug every few hours for up to several days.
Methamphetamine increases the brain’s natural amount of chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a key component in body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. The drug’s ability to increase levels of dopamine at a rapid pace in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug-taking behavior, making the user want to repeat the experience.
Signs of Methamphetamine Addiction
Methamphetamine use disorder has its hold on more and more Americans every year. The drug itself creates lasting side effects, and the addiction can take over your central nervous system. Tolerance increases with continued methamphetamine use, meaning you have to consume more to feel the same effects. After a while, it can feel like you need the drug to function at all.
The dangers of meth addiction give this substance one of the highest rates of overdose deaths. People experiencing methamphetamine use disorder might show any of the following signs:
- Disinterest in usual hobbies, friendships or personal goals
- Failed attempts to quit using
- Giving up normal responsibilities
- Withdrawal symptoms when not using
- Extreme weight loss