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What is Meth? How to Treat Meth Addiction and Be in Control Once More

Posted on 17/09/2019

WAccording to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, meth use in the United States involved roughly 1.6 million people annually. Of that number, 774,000 reported using meth in the three months prior to the survey. Around 964,000 people aged 12 or older had some sort of diagnosed meth abuse disorder. That was an increase over the 2016 total of 684,000 people. 

What is it about meth that causes so many people to become addicted? What sort of signs indicate an addiction is present? How can the addiction be treated? While there’s no substitute for professional drug counseling and rehabilitation, here is some information that will help you understand what’s happening and how an addict can receive help. 

What is Meth?

Meth is a natural and partially synthetic compound that is designed to act on the central nervous system. In terms of supervised medical use, it can be used to treat Attention Deficit disorder. It can also be used with patients who are morbidly obese. Much of the benefits comes from temporarily increasing the amount of dopamine present in the body and creating a sense of mental clarity and general well being. When used in a medical setting, meth is administered in carefully monitored doses and can be effective. 

So what is meth short for? The proper name is actually methamphetamine, although it is more popularly referred to as crank, hot ice, quartz, uppers, chicken feed, and speed. There are many other street names for meth, some of the based on regional preferences. Others tend to be more popular among people within certain economic classes. 

What type of drug is meth? It’s generally classed as a stimulant, owing to the way it affects the nervous system and the user’s mental and emotional state. 

Where Did It Come From?

What is the origin of meth? There’s some controversy over exactly when meth came into existence. Some trace the origins back to the late 19th century when the first amphetamine was produced. Others hold that the true origin began in the 1920‘s in Germany, although the research was shelved for a time. Another theory is that the first actual meth product came into being during World War II. 

Whatever the origin, it’s a fact that much of the meth used in powder or crystal form in the USA today is manufactured within the country, augmented with meth that’s produced in neighboring Mexico.  As with any type of drug manufactured for illegal use, there’s a question of purity to consider. Some manufacturers will cut the meth with harmless fillers in order to boost production. The choice of fillers may be harmful in and of themselves, or they may enhance the effects of the meth. 

How Is It Made?

What is meth made of? Primarily, it’s made using what’s known as precursors. Precursors are any type of chemicals that can be used to alter the texture, concentration, and other properties of the ingredients used in the manufacturing of legal or illegal substances. Along with asking what is crystal meth or powdered meth, it’s not unusual for people to wonder how it’s made. 

What is a meth precursor? While the methods used may vary, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are two of the more common precursors used. There may be others that are popular based on availability. These help to make it easier to combine different crystal meth ingredients and create a product that’s stable and capable or remaining so for a long time. 

Remember that meth is sometime referred to as a poor man’s cocaine. Part of the reason for that is that it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to produce meth. While there are full-fledged meth laboratories that turn out huge quantities, it’s also possible to set up what’s called a kitchen operation. Something as simple as a household basement or attic provides ample space to set up the little bit of equipment needed to product a steady supply. 

What Does Meth Look and Smell Like?

Along with asking what is meth drug, many people wonder how to recognize it. What does meth look like? In terms of appearance, it can be in the form of a powder. The powder may be white or it can be tinged with some type of color. That’s one of the reasons why it’s referred to as black beauty in some parts of the world. The powder is usually fine like cocaine and can be inhaled in a similar manner. You can also mix the powder with a liquid and inject it using a needle. 

Another option is crystal meth. As the name implies, it looks like a cut stone or rock. It can be smoked with ease. Rather than using a crack pipe, smoking crystal meth typically involves using what’s called a flute. The flute is a small pipe made of glass. 

What does meth smell like? The method used to product the drug has a lot to do with that. When produced in larger labs, the meth is likely to have something of a sweet scent that’s pleasing to the nose. Meth produced in so-called kitchen labs may have a scent that’s more akin to a window cleaning product. Think of the scent created in a cleaning product that includes ammonia or vinegar as one of the ingredients. 

Why Take Meth?

Initially, taking meth may be the result of seeking refuge from some sort of stress. That’s because of the feel-good result that comes about by increasing the effects of dopamine on the nervous system. The mental state with meth before and after usage is typically one of temporary  exhilaration and happiness, at least at first. It may help stimulate libido or help lose weight in the short-term. Over time, it takes more product to achieve that good feeling, and the crash later on is worse. 

What Are Some of the Signs and Side Effects?

The signs of meth use vary, but there are several other than the burst of euphoria that often comes first. There will be meth effects like bouts of paranoia, depression, bursts of anger, hallucinations, irregular heartbeat, and fainting. More signs like muscle cramps, insomnia, and uncontrolled trembling that are signs that someone is using crystal meths for a significant amount of time. If you want to understand what is meth drug addiction, be aware of these signs. 

How Do You Know That Addiction is Present?

Meth users who have reached a certain stage of meth addiction are likely to act differently than before. Part of that is because their minds and bodies now tend to only experience any type of pleasure after taking meth in some form. They may be distant, argumentative, shy away from social situations, or in some other way withdraw in between fixes. Once they take meth, they may seem to be happy, sociable, and ready to take on anything. When you see this constant back and forth behavior, addiction is likely present. 

What Does Treatment for a Meth Addiction Look Like?

There are times when meth users come to realize they can’t keep living the same way. It’s at that point where seeking some type of treatment is possible. The methods used will depend a great deal on the degree of addiction, whether the patient has been smoking meth or using some form of liquid meth. 

Dealing with the addiction can involve using something that’s less addictive while deciding how to get meth out of your system safely. Sometimes called a step-down approach, this must be done under the care of medical professionals. The goal is to weaken the dependence on meth and eventually wean the patient off whatever substitutes were used. 

Therapy is another key element when it comes to overcoming a meth addiction. It’s not just the physical craving that’s involved. Meth alters the thought processes so that the user feels unable to function in any capacity without taking the drug. Therapy helps to rewire the thought processes and help the patient see that it’s possible to feel good and enjoy life without using any type of illegal substance. 

If you or someone you love is addicted to meth, know that there are answers. It is possible to treat meth addictions and get back control of your life. The process will not be simple and it won’t be done overnight. You will have to commit to the treatment program and make quite a few lifestyle changes. On those days when you feel as if continuing is impossible, remind yourself that an addiction to meth is treatable and you will be free of it eventually. When that day comes, all of your hard work will be worth it.