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Methamphetamine is one of the most dangerous illicit drugs available and shooting meth only increases the risk factor. The highly addictive nature and relative availability throughout the US, especially the Northeast and Southeast, have positioned meth to deal significant damage to various vulnerable populations. It’s very chemically similar to amphetamine, which is used in ADD and ADHD treatment medications like Adderall.
Different Forms of Meth
Meth, also known as ice, crank, or crystal, belongs to the stimulant family of drugs. It’s most commonly consumed in either its powdered form or its crystalline form. When using the powder, people can snort it, mix it with water and inject it, or swallow it. The treatment process involved in converting powdered meth to its crystal form also increases the potency. Most people smoke or inject crystal meth.
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Intravenous Drug Use (IDU)
“Shooting” refers to the act of injecting a drug, usually directly into a vein. Most drugs which come in powdered form can be mixed or melted into an injectable medium. IDU intensifies the high and allows it to set in faster, but also carries serious risks.
Oftentimes, shooting causes infections at the injection site on the skin and in the veins. Serious cases lead to infections in the heart that require major surgery in order to replace valves. Artificial valves become infected much more easily, which means the recipient needs to stop their drug habit or risk another heart surgery. Sharing needles with other people also leads to the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, both of which caused 10,000 deaths or more in 2018.
Frequent shooting often damages veins rendering them unusable for future injections. Injecting in the same spot repeatedly not only leads to infection but could shake loose a blood clot that formed from a prior injection. These risks are associated with IDU in general, but meth carries its own risks.
Not all drugs can be injected in the same ways. Meth always goes in the veins in order for it to be fully absorbed. Some users inject drugs like heroin into the muscles or skin (muscling and skin-popping) if they can’t find a reliable vein. Shooting meth bypasses the bodies filter mechanisms, and if the meth is impure, it can cause worse infections, overdose, and other serious side effects.
A meth high takes hold quickly, especially when shooting. Meth causes the brain to release large amounts of dopamine, which causes an overwhelming rush feeling. The high increases energy levels, and it makes people feel more awake and active. The feeling is fleeting, which is part of the addictive quality. People will often string together multiple highs by continuously injecting at the end of each trip, which can last for multiple days in a row.
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Long Term Effects of Shooting Meth
Meth is infamous for the physical and mental toll it takes on people who struggle with a use disorder. “Meth mouth” is a common side effect. The teeth begin to rot in the mouth because of a reduction in protective saliva and poor hygiene. People addicted to meth often pick sores into their skin because of a sensation that bugs are crawling on them constantly.
Meth interacts with the nervous system, which can lead to serious mental health issues:
- Aggression, and Violence
Whether eaten, smoked, or injected, meth puts your physical and mental health at risk. Do not hesitate to reach out for help if you or a loved one are struggling with a meth use disorder. Caring providers are available around the clock for those interested in taking their first steps towards recovery.
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