Why Is Methamphetamine So Addicting?
Methamphetamine is a powerful and almost instantly habit-forming drug. Even one hit of methamphetamine is capable of damaging key receptors in the brain, rendering users incapable of feeling pleasure without the assistance of methamphetamine. Recovery requires detox and in-depth therapy with a trained professional.
The Basics of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine (“meth”) is one of the most devastating drugs on the market. Methamphetamine derives its effectiveness from forcing the brain to pump out dopamine, the neurotransmitter that plays a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior. Methamphetamine hijacks that system and forces the brain to secrete more dopamine than is healthy and normal. Methamphetamine is so powerful that it can be instantly habit-forming, opening the door to long-term use.
Eventually, Methamphetamine or an amphetamine-type substance use disorder destroys the dopamine receptors in the brain, thereby rendering one incapable of experiencing pleasure from any other means aside from the methamphetamine. Methamphetamine becomes the focus of users’ lives, consuming time, energy, and financial resources as the user is focused on getting meth. Family life and work become less important as the natural impulses to thrive in those areas have been destroyed by the continued use of methamphetamine. While treatment can return one’s quality of life, there is a risk of permanent cognitive impairment if methamphetamine use has gone unchecked for too long.
Signs and Symptoms of a Methamphetamine Addiction
The effects of methamphetamine can go far beyond the psychological and include:
- Weight loss
- Elevated body temperature
- Decreased libido
- Skin abscesses
Because methamphetamine or an amphetamine-type substance use disorder can radically alter the brain’s chemistry it results in a number of behavioral changes. Individuals may experience severe paranoia and isolation, auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as wild mood swings marked by aggressive behavior. Because methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant it often causes clients to engage in risky, impulsive behaviors. This combined with other observations is a good sign of addiction.
The First Time
First-time users may not initially experience many of these negative effects. Rather, the high makes them euphoric, hyper-alert, very active, and talkative. The high can last for 6-12 hours while behind the scenes, the sensation is being ingrained into the brain’s own reward system. While normal and healthy activities leave a natural impression on the brain, methamphetamine overwhelms the regions associated with memory, pleasure, and reasoning. No other experience will compare to that first experience with meth. The brain, eager to replicate that initial experience quickly finds the same amount insufficient. Users will relentlessly chase what they felt in that first experience, deepening their addiction each time.