What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine Abuse and AddictionMethamphetamine is a psychoactive stimulant that increases alertness and energy, and in high doses, can induce euphoria, enhance self-esteem and increase sexual pleasure. Methamphetamine is FDA approved in the United States for the treatment of ADHD and some forms of obesity, under the trademark name of Desoxyn.

Methamphetamine has a high potential for abuse, activating the psychological reward system by increasing levels of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain.  With these increases meth addiction is often bound to follow.

Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that affects neurochemical mechanisms responsible for regulating heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, appetite, attention, mood and responses associated with alertness or alarm conditions. Users experience an increase in focus, increased mental alertness, and the elimination of fatigue, as well as a decrease in appetite.

Psychological effects can include euphoria, anxiety, increased libido, alertness, concentration, energy, self-esteem, self-confidence, sociability, irritability, aggression, psychosomatic disorders, hubris, excessive feeling of power and invincibility, repetitive and obsessive behaviors, paranoia, and with chronic and/or high doses, amphetamine psychosis.

Withdrawal is characterized by excessive sleeping, increased appetite and depression, often accompanied by anxiety and drug-craving.

Effects of Meth

Regular use can lead to amphetamine-induced psychosis, though for most patients these symptoms will stop within 7–10 days of discontinuing the drug. However, a small percentage of long-term or “heavy” users will continue experiencing intermittent psychotic episodes (experiencing hallucinations, delusions, and/or paranoia) on an ongoing basis within the first year of abstinence of meth abuse. Although not common, these users offer some anecdotal evidence about the neurotoxicity of long-term amphetamine use, and the healing process that a user experiences when these neurotoxic effects are either partially or fully reversed.

Spontaneous and long-term recurrences (akin to “flashbacks”) are hypothesized to be triggered (or exacerbated) by high stress and by sleep deprivation. In extremely rare cases, this condition is documented to persist beyond one year.

The key distinction between amphetamine psychosis and a psychotic disorder or schizophrenia is that the symptoms will eventually subside, but only with abstinence and proper treatment.