As a nurse, you will help patients suffering from various problems throughout your career. Patients suffering from substance abuse will be a major concern you will encounter. Knowing how to identify substance abuse, how it negatively impacts patients and people around them, and the possible ways to treat it is essential as a nurse.
The more you understand it, the better you can help the people suffering from substance abuse and their families get the necessary help. Today, we will discuss meth, or methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant that poses a great danger to people who use and abuse the drug.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine (meth) is a drug developed in the early 1900s by scientists to improve the results they could achieve from amphetamine, a medicine. However, the substance was far stronger than anticipated and carried a high risk of addiction and overdose. It is an addictive drug with energizing effects. Available in various forms, methamphetamine can be consumed orally, snorted in powder form, or even dissolved in water and injected.
Signs of Methamphetamine Use
Methamphetamine use is illegal and a person abusing the drug may attempt to hide it from the people around them. However, there are signs an addict may exhibit that can help you identify someone abusing meth, including:
- Behavioral changes like heightened aggressiveness, paranoia, or unusual secrecy.
- Drastic mood swings or sudden onset of extremely depressive episodes.
- A person abusing meth may begin isolating themselves or develop friendships with other people who abuse drugs.
- Financial problems and money seeking behavior without logical explanations, stealing, or lying to friends and family to gain access to money.
- Changes in sleep patterns (too much or too little), lack energy, or have chronic health issues related to drug abuse.
- Physical changes, such as unhealthy weight loss or weight gain, sores or rashes, changes in dentition health, deteriorating hygiene, and unkept appearance.
Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse
Long-term use of methamphetamine can have several devastating effects on a person, including:
- Psychotic behavior: Long-term and heavy methamphetamine use can lead to extreme paranoia, aggression, and even lead to delusional behavior. Some users have even reported feeling like they have insects crawling under their skin.
- Chronic health issues: As methamphetamine use increases, the body’s ability to fight off other diseases deteriorates, leading to a person becoming more prone to various other health issues.
- Deteriorating physical appearance: Drastic changes in appearance resulting from a lack of hygiene, rotting teeth, extremely dry skin, and open sores become worse with continued use.
- Cognitive damage: Methamphetamine use releases unusually high dopamine. Prolonged abuse can destroy dopamine receptors, resulting in an inability to feel any pleasure.
Substance abuse in all its forms does more than harm the person suffering from it. Due to the psychological, emotional, and behavioral changes it brings, methamphetamine addiction can also negatively impact family and friends. Besides creating financial hardships, it can damage interpersonal relationships in the family, increase the risk of domestic abuse, and even lead to substance abuse in younger siblings, who may resort to drugs to escape the chaotic environment in the household.
Viable Ways to Treat Methamphetamine Addiction
If someone is suffering from drug abuse and is using methamphetamines, it is essential for them to acknowledge their addition. Methamphetamines is extremely addictive, and it is not easy to stop abusing it. Fortunately, with the right support system, there are possible avenues to treat substance abuse problems, including:
- Behavioral therapy can help reduce methamphetamine use and treat the anxiety and depression resulting from stopping use.
- Inpatient treatment programs at residential facilities can effectively help treat methamphetamine addiction.
- Doctors may prescribe certain medications to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Combined with inpatient treatment, prescribed medications can have significant results.
- Support groups with people who have lived through and overcome similar challenges can be monumental in helping people suffering from methamphetamine addiction.
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