Why crystal meth?
There are many reasons why people will first try crystal meth; peer pressure, depression and boredom and more. However, once someone has taken the drug, the reasoning for continuing to use is the same. They like the feeling they get due to the way crystal meth affects their brain. The effect from the drug has been described as a sudden rush of pleasure lasting several minutes. Following this, there is said to be a euphoric high that lasts six to twelve hours. This high is a result of the brain producing disproportionately large amounts of dopamine. In turn, this creates surges of pleasure. For example, in lab studies done on animals, sex causes dopamine levels to jump from 100 to 200 units. What’s more, Cocaine causes them to spike to 350 units.
However, with methamphetamine you get a release from the base level to about 1,250 units. That’s 12 times as much of a release of dopamine as you get from food, sex and other pleasurable activities. This kind of dopamine release doesn’t occur in any normal or natural activity, therefore when someone tries crystal meth for the first time, they will experience a completely new and unbounded euphoric high.
The risks and consequences
When the drug wears off, the user will experience a deep depression as they are ‘coming down’ from such a high. Generally, the user will turn to the drug again to avoid feeling such a crash. When a person uses crystal meth over and over again they are actually changing their brain’s chemistry with the drug. It ruins the brain’s pleasure receptors, making it more and more difficult to experience pleasure. Even though it has been proven that such tissues can regrow over time, it can take years. Also, the regrowth may never be fully complete or fully repaired.
Crystal meth and the brain
Experts have examined brain scans of some crystal meth abusers who, after 14 months of abstinence from the drug, have regrown most of their damaged dopamine receptors. However, there were no signs of improvement in the cognitive abilities impaired by the drug. After more than a year’s sobriety, these former meth users still showed signs of severe damage in memory, judgment and motor coordination. These are very similar and the same symptoms that can be seen in Parkinson’s disease.
Furthermore, crystal meth can lead to excessive violent behaviour due to the large amounts of adrenaline released into the body. Intense and enduring use of crystal meth can further stimulate psychotic behaviour in the user, such as paranoia, aggression, hallucinations and delusions. It has been known in some crystal meth users that they will feel insects crawling beneath their skin, meaning they will pick and pick at their own skin. The awful effects of crystal meth can be immediate and grave. Crystal meth is a particularly addictive drug. If you know anyone who you believe may have an addiction to crystal meth they must enter a long term rehabilitation programme as soon as possible to limit the damage to their body and escape the potential life ruining choices they are making.
The Haynes Clinic is a drug and alcohol treatment centre offering detox and psychological counselling for those suffering from addiction. We treat crystal meth addiction and have noted a growing need for this recently. For free and confidential advice, call 01462 851 414,