Methamphetamine Abuse

Teen methamphetamine abuse can lead to addiction very quickly, because the drug alters the brain in ways that make quitting difficult. Recent statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that 1.2 percent of 12th graders have used the drug. However, that number increases as teens get older: 3.3 percent of adolescents aged 18 to 25 report having used methamphetamine.

What Is Methamphetamine Abuse?

Methamphetamine abuse refers to the abuse of the highly addictive stimulant drug methamphetamine, commonly known as meth. It is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A manmade drug, methamphetamine is typically made in pill or powder form, and can be taken via swallowing a pill, smoking or snorting the powder, or injecting powder that has been dissolved in water or alcohol. Methamphetamine increases the release of dopamine in the brain, which is associated with pleasure and reward.

Short-term meth abuse signs include enhanced alertness and physical activity, decreased appetite, and increased blood pressure and body temperature. Long-term effects include increased risk of contracting infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis; extreme weight loss; severe dental problems; intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching; anxiety and confusion; difficulty sleeping; violent behavior; paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations; and changes in the areas of the brain associated with memory and emotion. Moreover, meth addiction can result in impaired judgment and decision-making, leading to risky behavior. A meth overdose can cause stroke, heart attack, or organ failure, resulting in death.

Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, have been shown to be the most effective methamphetamine abuse treatment. Additionally, a behavioral treatment known as Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery uses an incentive-based approach to help meth addicts stay drug free.

Sources: National Institute on Drug AbuseSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 

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