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Addiction to Meth: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.
Crystal Meth addiction is now the biggest pandemic gripping the nation. According to the latest statistics, there are at least 1.5 million addicted crystal meth users in the United States. The government has moved in to implement legislation and enforce tough sentencing to curb the numbers. This had very limited effect as the epidemic keeps spreading around the country.

While an overall outlook at the problem puts it in perspective, only a personal outlook is bound to hit home. Unlike heroin, crack cocaine and other known drugs, crystal meth (often called Ice or Crank) is the biggest threat facing us yet: it’s readily available, cheap and can have far-reaching consequences, both on the body and mind. Have you ever thought of the serious pandemic spreading home? What if a brother, a son or a mother fell prey to this serious addiction? This article deals with these concerns, offering information on addiction, physical and emotional signs and the best way to help loved ones quit the habit.

Getting hooked
So what drives people to use meth at such unprecedented levels? The answer is three-fold: it’s easy to use, cheap to concoct and can work as an energy booster.

Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine which is a major component in methamphetamine is a legal component high on demand from major pharmaceutical companies. Until recently, one could buy these drugs over the counter from any drug store. New legislation in the United States now limits its use, but this had only little effect. Meth is a chemical jambalaya whose components can be found in alcohol, cold tablets and even lithium batteries. Users can set up “home labs” where they can easily make cheap crystal meth by cooking the original ingredients into hard rocks to feed their habit.

As to its increasing use, it can be attributed to some of the marginal benefits it affords users. Meth is widely used by party goers as an intensive rush and energy-booster to enhance their partying experience. It has also found use as an appetite suppressant to lose weight.

The problem lies in the ease with which a casual user can get hooked on the drug. Unlike cocaine, for instance, meth directly affects the release of dopamine – a substance that increases cravings. Frequent spikes of dopamine can lead to a strong addiction bordering on the obsession.

Crystal Meth’s toll on the body and brain
The most disturbing sign of meth addiction is the classic meth-user look of a wounded face and a collapsed jaw. Because Meth is a super Sudafed, it dries out the skin completely. Addicts begin to believe they are suffering from “meth lice”. This leads to frantic scratching of the face using fingernails – a process generally known as picking. Picking can lead to serious self-inflicted wounds, especially in the face. Another physical sign is rotten teeth and a collapsing jaw. Meth dries out the gum completely and leads to the grinding of the teeth and the jaw collapsing inward. Other physical symptoms include a flushed appearance, severe weightloss, boundless energy, deep sleep and excessive sweating.

On an emotional level, the effects of a meth addiction can be equally visible and devastating. Some of the emotional signs of meth abuse include irresponsibility, child neglect, and crime (to pay for the drug). A single puff of meth can keep a user high for 24 hours, unlike cocaine or heroin which only last for a couple of hours. For someone on the mend or looking to sustain the habit, this can lead to serious bouts of violence, paranoid schizophrenia and suicidal tendencies. (continued...)

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