Methamphetamine Wreaks Havoc with Users and Their Loved Ones
Methamphetamine is unforgiving, in just about every way. The drug is so physically destructive that one public service campaign themed The Faces of Meth features before use and after use photos to show how quickly the drug can destroy a person’s appearance. But the drug does far more than wreck good looks.
Psychological and Physiological Effects
Methamphetamine is a stimulant. The mildest side effects include insomnia, constant talking, a reduced appetite (except for cravings for sweets), aggressiveness and irritability. Users may also experience hallucinations, paranoia, depression or panic attacks.
Meth dramatically affects appearance, which makes use of the drug fairly easy to spot. Users have dilated pupils, sweaty skin and, while high, often compulsively grind their teeth. The drug also dries up saliva flow leaving the mouth full of harmful bacteria. In short order, teeth become decayed and telltale “meth mouth” develops. Within just a year or two of using meth a person’s skin appears aged beyond its years due to constriction of blood vessels.
Shortness of breath, jerky muscle movements and the appearance of being in constant motion are other visible signs of meth use. After using meth for a while, poor coordination, numbness or even convulsions may become a problem.
The drug creates circulation problems and rapid heartbeat so hyperthermia and high blood pressure are regular side effects. Damage to blood vessels and problems with clotting are not uncommon. Meth also damages the body’s immune system, causes liver damage, speeds heartbeat and increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Meth users experience an increase in libido, even as the drug impairs their ability to make sound decisions. This leaves users susceptible to risky sex and the sexually transmitted diseases that can follow.
Lastly, because meth suppresses normal appetite and leaves the user craving only sweet foods, many heavy meth users become underweight and malnourished.
Meth and the Aftermath
The drug constricts blood vessels in the brain leading to damage that can take 12 months or more to reverse. In some instances, damage is irreversible. Meth-induced damage to the brain puts users at greater risk for developing Parkinson’s disease and other disorders.
Few people can experiment with meth and then just walk away. And the longer a person uses the drug the greater the risk of addiction. Addiction never affects the user alone. It harms relationships and frequently leads to problems at work, school or with the law.
Addiction creates a state of desperation in the user in which nothing matters but the next chance to get high. In order to pay for their addiction, users will run through their own funds and then start to use other people’s monies – this could be through stealing, raiding bank accounts or embezzling at work. Meth exacts a staggering toll, physically, emotionally and financially.