Methamphetamine, also known as meth and many other street names, is a dangerous, addictive substance. It is estimated that 10.4 million Americans have at least tried the drug once in their life, and it sends close to 140,000 people to the emergency room each year. The feelings of anxiety and emptiness that users experience create a vicious cycle that can be impossible to break without outside intervention. In addition to harming those who use the drug, meth can also destroy lives from a distance. Neighborhoods and buildings that are exposed to the dangerous chemicals used to make methamphetamine are affected for many years after the fact.
Methamphetamine can be ingested through several different methods. Although the most common way is by inhaling the drug, it can also be administered orally, through the nose or intravenously injected. The last way presents some of the most severe long-term consequences because shared needles increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
One of the most dangerous aspects of meth is that it can be made out of a cocktail containing literally anything. In addition to the actual drug, people who use meth are introducing harmful, potentially carcinogenic chemicals into their body. The process of manufacturing meth is riddled with risks because it uses corrosive chemicals and other highly combustible materials. It is incredibly volatile and can produce deadly explosions that affect the people making the drug and entire communities around them for years.
Using methamphetamine has both short- and long-term consequences. Some of the short-term side effects can include impaired speech, heightened awareness, hallucinations, itchiness and becoming overly aggressive. Long-term use of the drug can cause vision loss, brain damage, severe dental problems, and breathing problems. Additionally, people who inject methamphetamine into their body are at an increased risk for contracting blood-borne diseases, like HIV.
Watching a friend or family member struggle with an addiction to methamphetamine can be just as devastating as taking the drug itself. Fortunately, it is possible to find help. Hotlines and treatment centers can help meth addicts’ deal safely with their addiction.
There are many government and nonprofit organizations that deal with methamphetamine addictions. Some of them target meth users specifically, while others were founded to help loved ones cope. Many of them, like the Meth Project, aim to increase awareness in middle school and high school children. They offer helpful online resources, run campaigns and host in-school presentations that explain the dangers of allowing methamphetamine to take control.
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