Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant. It was developed in Japan as a diet pill and when it was found to be addictive, it was removed from the market. Methamphetamine was however used by Japanese troops during World War 2 and by Hitler’s Storm Troopers. Hitler himself was addicted, receiving daily injections to the end of his life.
The form of methamphetamine available in the 40s and 50s was not nearly as potent as the Ice form of the drug found now. The Ice form of methamphetamine is more potent and more addictive than the old ‘speed’ from years ago. The Ice form of the drug can be smoked like Crack cocaine. Ice is to methamphetamine like Crack is to cocaine, more potent and more addictive than the old form of the drug.
The high from methamphetamine is a feeling of energy and endurance, focus and concentration. It is often used by workers to be more productive. The trucker who wants to drive another hundred miles, or the factory worker doing a double shift may be using methamphetamine to work harder. Even these low dose methamphetamine users have personality changes caused by methamphetamine, including a short temper, impulsivity, and irritability. Low dose users however will vehemently deny that methamphetamine is having any adverse effect on their lives.
In higher doses, is causes a feeling of being invincible, indestructible, powerful, and confidant. It is used recreationally at parties and concerts to cause a high, often just on weekends at first. Smoked or injected, it causes a feeling of sexual arousal and is often used by prostitutes and highly promiscuous people, sometimes trading sex for more of the drug.
After using methamphetamine, there follows a down period, called the crash, in which one is tired, and depressed. This crash is mild at first, but with continued use, the crash becomes more severe with profound fatigue, body aches, scatterbrained thoughts and difficulty concentrating. Users will find they can’t wait till Friday for another dose anymore. They need some more on Tuesday and Thursday and then every day, just to be able to function normally. The crash controls their lives at this point.
Methamphetamine is highly addictive because it hijacks the reward center of the brain, flooding it with the pleasure chemical dopamine. After exposure to this stimulation, the normal pleasures of life are no longer as rewarding as they once were. Addicts will do anything to get another dose of methamphetamine to experience that pleasure again.
Methamphetamine is toxic primarily because of the chemicals it is broken down into after a high. Methamphetamine is made using toxic chemicals, acids and bases, solvents and reactive metals. Tylenol is made using similar chemicals, and is broken down into toxic metabolites. If you take to much Tylenol, it will damage your liver. But Tylenol does not cross the blood brain barrier. Methamphetamine does cross this barrier, and is metabolized into toxic chemicals on the wrong side of the blood brain barrier. These toxic chemicals destroy brain cells – producing microscopic ‘holes’ in the brain, which with repeated exposure, extend into ‘holes’ big enough to measure or see on an x-ray. Special x-rays that show the function of brain tissue reveal this damage. Scar tissue will not light up on these x-rays, and so shows up as a blank spot – or a hole.
The damage caused by methamphetamine extends to many areas of the personality. Some addicts have hallucinations, some have attacks of rage, and others have panic attacks. Most addicts experience severe degrees of depression because the areas of the brain producing key brain chemicals have been damaged, in some cases permanently. Memory loss and loss of rational thinking are also seen, though thankfully most addicts are able to recover much of their brain function after quitting methamphetamine.
The destruction related to meth does not affect just the addict, but is felt by everyone around that addict. His family is disrupted by his temper and rages, he is irresponsible at work, and he is often incarcerated. The incidence of domestic violence and child abuse is much higher in a methamphetamine abusing home than in even an alcoholic home.
Multigenerational addiction is often seen, in which children have learned from their parents how to use and manufacture methamphetamine. Children who are abused and neglected in these homes often turn to crime and drug use in their older years.