Methamphetamine, is a very powerful man-made stimulant drug that has become increasingly popular with drug abusers. This drug can be made with very simple ingredients that can be purchased at drug stores, though it is becoming increasingly available through larger foreign manufacturing sources. This highly addictive drug is typically snorted or smoked and presents as small bluish and whitish rocks or as small pieces of glass.
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How Does It Affect Your System?
Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant, whether it comes as crystal meth, speed, or another form of amphetamine. The drug quickly hits the brain, releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin to increase energy, alertness, and sociability. Meth’s effects may last for up to eight hours, depending on the dose, but once the drug starts to wear off, the comedown effects can cause the individual to feel terrible.
What Are The Symptoms & Risk
A comedown is different from withdrawal, although there are a few aspects of the process that appear similar. Comedowns from drugs are closer to hangovers from alcohol, as both are caused by a combination of neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain, chemicals metabolized into toxins that build up in the body, and exhaustion from the euphoria of the drug.
Meth comedown symptoms include:
Lack of motivation
Insomnia despite exhaustion
Headache from dehydration
Muscle pain, especially in the jaw from clenching
Comedown symptoms may last for a few days after one abuses the drug, especially mental health changes like depression and anxiety. When abused as a party drug, meth may be mixed with other amphetamines, opioids, or alcohol. Mixing drugs together is very dangerous and can cause an overdose; in addition, comedown symptoms will feel worse or more intense when substances are combined. If the individual does not take any more meth, these symptoms will resolve on their own.
It is important to understand the symptoms of a comedown from stimulant drugs like meth because many people who begin to abuse these drugs take more as the comedown symptoms begin to set in. This leads to binges, which can cause a deadly overdose or long-term harm to the brain and body.
Meth binges are called “tweaking.” Too often, to avoid the depression and physical weakness associated with a meth comedown, someone abusing the drug will take more, which increases the intensity of effects and side effects. This, in turn, increases the intensity of depression symptoms when the drug begins to wear off, leading the individual to take more meth.
Detoxing Symptoms (Withdrawl)
Symptoms of meth withdrawal may include:
Feelings of fatigue, lethargy, and excessive sleepiness (typical of withdrawal from stimulant medications) are common.
Increased appetite, dry mouth, and some episodes of jitteriness generally occur.
Depression, apathy, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide.
Extreme cravings for more meth.
Psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.
A significant number of individuals report feelings of depression, which were also noted to decline in a linear fashion over the course of the withdrawal time period. These depressive symptoms can be significant and associated with thoughts of suicide. In addition, research has indicated that a good number of individuals who relapse do so because of feelings of depression, apathy, hopelessness, etc.
Extreme cravings for methamphetamine also occur during the withdrawal process but have been noted to decline rapidly. Cravings for methamphetamine during withdrawal appear to be associated with the level of depression occurring in the individual. In addition, as one would expect, research indicates that the more intense and frequent the cravings an individual in withdrawal from methamphetamine experiences, the higher the probability that the individual will relapse during the withdrawal syndrome.
The most dangerous symptoms associated with methamphetamine withdrawal are severe depression and the potential to develop psychosis. These risks may be more salient in older individuals or individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.
There is also some research to indicate that at least following short-term recovery, individuals with methamphetamine use disorders exhibit some cognitive deficits in the areas of mental processing speed, attention, memory, and planning that are not fully resolved within six months of abstinence. Research looking at the longer-term cognitive effects of crystal meth abuse is ongoing.