Crystal meth (methamphetamine) – also known as chalk, speed, ice, or tina – is one of the most common illegal drugs in the market. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 6.5% of persons aged 26 and above use this drug. Sadly, it affects even young people – with 5.4% of teens aged 12 and above admitting to meth use.
Meth, a stimulant drug, is an addictive substance that is often taken with alcohol. While each is already dangerous on its own, this combination proves to be harmful – if not lethal.
What is Meth?
Meth is the second-most abused substance in the world. This popular party drug comes in various forms, including that of a white, bitter powder. Another variation, crystal meth, is known for its shiny, blue-white rocks. Meth can be snorted, smoked, swallowed, or injected directly into the vein.
As a stimulant drug, meth can make you more alert and active. It can increase your energy, boost your mood, and enhance your feelings of well-being.
Although this is the case, meth use can lead to a binge crash pattern. That’s because the immense ‘high’ goes away immediately once the drug leaves the system.
As an addictive drug, meth can rewire the brain’s dopamine circuit. As such, an addict is no longer able to feel pleasure from usual everyday activities. He/she ends up building tolerance, or the need to use more and more meth. In the end, they are so stimulated that they are no longer able to sleep or eat for a couple of days.
Effects of Meth Intake
More than just affecting the brain, meth can result in these short-term physical changes:
- Fast, irregular heart rate
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Increased attention
- Feelings of euphoria
- Lack of appetite
Meth also brings long-term effects, which can persist even after the addict has stopped using. Symptoms include:
- Issues with memory, thinking, and emotion
- Mood swings
- Violent behavior
- Psychosis – seeing, hearing, or imagining things that are not there
- Sleeping problems
- Dental problems known as ‘meth mouth’ Extreme weight loss
- Skin sores due to scratching
The Dangers of Meth Use
As with most illegal drugs, meth can lead to overdose or eventual death.
For one, it can raise your body temperature to such heights that you end up passing out. If left untreated, this can lead to eventual death.
Meth can also raise your heart rate and blood pressure. These, in turn, can lead to a fatal heart attack or brain attack (stroke).
Recently, drug dealers have added fentanyl, a cheap opioid drug, to most meth productions. Unfortunately, approximately half of meth overdose drugs usually involve another drug such as fentanyl.
With these complications, overdose deaths from drugs such as meth have increased exponentially throughout the years. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, mortalities have increased by 7.5 times in 10 years.
Meth, like alcohol, is not easy to quit. It has an addictive nature that most users find hard to resist. And, if they are finally able to stop using meth, they can suffer from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These include:
- Difficulty sleeping despite being tired
- A strong craving to use meth
Meth and Alcohol
Meth and alcohol are often used with one another. As alcohol use is already dangerous on its own, the addiction of meth can be more dangerous – if not lethal. Here are some key points regarding the use of both substances:
Meth and alcohol are harmful to the body.
Experts believe that the use of both substances exacerbates the health risks of each. For one, alcohol can inhibit meth metabolism. This leaves higher levels of the drug in the body. The result is increased stimulation of the brain and heart, which is detrimental (if not fatal) in the long run.
On the other hand, a study by Kirkpatrick et al. has shown that joint use can lead to more pronounced health effects. Addicts were more euphoric, and they demonstrated an even higher heart rate.
Alcohol and meth also affect a person’s learning, memory, and discrimination. Such can lead to high-risk behavior, such as unprotected sex, drunk driving, to name a few.
To make matters worse, meth users who drank alcohol for more than 16 days a month demonstrated more severe psychotic symptoms. These can lead to acts of violence or aggression that may result in crimes and other legal problems.
Meth and alcohol use go beyond the addict as these can affect the fetus as well. Exposure to both substances results in brain changes that affect the intellect of the unborn child. This may worsen the child’s condition, especially if he/she is also afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The more severe your alcoholism is, the more likely you’ll abuse meth.
Research shows that alcoholics are 5 times more likely to use meth compared to non-drinkers. The study by Bujarski et al. has shown that binge drinking further increases the likelihood of meth use.
Meth and alcohol use affect all races and ages. One of the more hard-hit populations is that of college students, where heavy alcohol intake has been linked with the use of stimulants such as meth.
Meth users who abuse alcohol have a higher chance of being intoxicated.
Stinson et al. have noted that 75% of meth addicts have reported alcoholism as well. Because of meth’s effects on the body, they become drunk at a faster rate whenever they drink alcohol.
Although this is the case, meth can mask the symptoms of intoxication. To wit, it is easy to note drowsiness and poor performance in a drunk individual. However, the stimulating nature of meth can conceal these signs. In the end, the meth user drinks more and more – a factor that can lead to fatal alcohol poisoning.
Meth is a stimulant drug that can be injected, snorted, swallowed, or smoked. It comes with a bevy of health effects that can be worsened with concurrent alcohol use. Meth and alcohol intake can affect learning, memory, and discrimination, as they can worsen psychotic symptoms. Meth can also mask the symptoms of intoxication, which can lead to fatal alcohol poisoning.
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