Basic Facts About Meth
Methamphetamine has a chemical formula very similar to that of amphetamine, another stimulant of abuse that also has a legitimate medical use. Medically approved uses for legally produced methamphetamine include treatment of the symptoms of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), promotion of weight loss in obese or morbidly obese individuals, and relief of the symptoms of narcolepsy, a daytime sleep disorder. However, as a rule, doctors only prescribe the medication in limited circumstances. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
Illegally produced methamphetamine goes by such names as “crystal meth,” “crystal” and “ice.” Like other powerful stimulant drugs of abuse, methamphetamine triggers pleasure-producing changes inside the brain and speeds up nerve cell activity in both the brain and the spinal cord. However, compared to both amphetamine and cocaine, methamphetamine produces unusually steep increases in the brain’s levels of pleasure-producing chemicals.
When an individual uses any mood-altering substance over and over, the brain adapts and may ultimately come to rely on the drug’s presence. Addiction experts refer to this substance-induced, long-term alteration of the brain’s working environment as physical dependence. Any physically dependent person runs the very real risk of becoming addicted. Symptoms of meth addiction include repeated drug cravings, unchecked drug intake, rising drug tolerance, and a withdrawal syndrome that sets in when brain levels of a drug fall below expectations. Since methamphetamine makes unusually profound changes in brain chemistry, repeated users of the drug are at high risk for physical dependence and addiction.
Diagnosing Methamphetamine Addiction
According to definitions established by the American Psychiatric Association, methamphetamine addiction qualifies as one form of a condition known as stimulant use disorder. The stimulant use disorder diagnosis covers methamphetamine addiction and addiction to any other stimulant of abuse. Guidelines established in 2013 allow doctors to diagnose a mild form of the disorder in individuals affected by two or three symptoms out of a possible total of 11. Doctors may diagnose moderate stimulant use disorder in individuals affected by four or five symptoms. In addition, they can diagnose a severe form of the disorder in individuals with at least six of the 11 symptoms.