What does a meth user look like

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

29.07.2014

Crystal meth: highly dangerous and particularly destructive in effect

Crystal meth is one of the most dangerous drugs of our time. It is addictive particularly quickly and leads to serious psychological and physical decline. In Germany, too, the drug is becoming a growing problem.

“The effects of methylamphetamine are fatal. Compared to other drugs - for example cocaine - the substance in the reward center of the brain has an even faster effect and higher concentration. This results in an extreme increase in self-esteem that hardly any other drug achieves. The accelerated flooding to the reward center and the intensive effect in the reward center have massive psychological and physical consequences and lead to a faster and stronger formation of dependency ”, warns Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Bleich from the German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychosomatics and Neurology (DGPPN) based in Berlin. “Consumers experience an enormous boost in self-confidence, euphoria and alertness, they feel happy, energetic and great, like they have never experienced before. This experience is what makes the drug so attractive and, in combination with the withdrawal symptoms, which are difficult to bear, causes a strong addictive pressure. This need to consume the drug again, known by experts as “craving”, can be very pronounced after a single use and provoke an inevitable desire. ”The duration of action of crystal meth, which is synthetically produced in contrast to cocaine, can be up to twelve Hours and is therefore significantly longer than that of cocaine. Under the influence of the drug, feelings such as fear, hunger and pain also disappear, while performance and sexual need increase. When the effect wears off, there is a lack of drive, a general feeling of weakness, headaches as well as reduced self-esteem and depressive moods.

No longer a drug in the party scene

Dependency disorders are very heterogeneous with different consumption biographies, motives and patterns. Crystal meth was initially a drug of the party scene, which was mostly taken by younger people in order to be able to hold out longer when partying and dancing. In the meantime, the substance has also reached the training sector and the world of work and is being used more and more frequently by people who are exposed to great stress and who want to improve their performance. “Crystal stimulates the body and mind longer than conventional amphetamines or cocaine. During their studies and professional life, the drug is consumed by people who feel high pressure to perform or who have to do a lot physically - for example when they work at night or in shifts, ”adds Prof. Bleich. “But mothers and fathers, who are obviously exposed to high pressure, also consume the drug in order to be able to cope better with their everyday lives. Another motive is that it causes strong sexual stimulation - even more so than is known from cocaine. ”What leads to substance abuse in the individual case is a complicated interplay between personality traits, biological factors, stress, life events and the availability of drugs. Almost every addiction then develops through the psychological processes of experience and repetition, which is followed by the physiological process of habituation. Addiction patients compensate for this loss of effectiveness with higher and higher doses.

There is a risk of serious physical and psychological damage

Crystal meth is produced chemically and is usually sniffed, inhaled or swallowed as a tablet by the consumer. The base of the crystal-like drug is the stimulant N-methamphetamine. This is chemically derived from the "slimming agent" amphetamine, which was previously often abused as a drug. If the drug is taken over a long period of time, the damage is massive: "Weight loss, damage to the stomach, liver and kidneys, cardiac arrhythmias as well as decaying teeth, rashes and severe sleep disorders can occur," explains Prof. Dr. Pale. “Typical psychological complications are memory and concentration problems, aggression, depression and serious personality changes. Especially with frequent use there is the risk of developing a so-called amphetamine psychosis, which can be accompanied by delusions, hallucinations and anxiety. ”In addition, crystal meth is extremely neurotoxic - it destroys nerve cells in the brain without them being able to regenerate, which leads to a contributes to extremely rapid physical decline. The massive physical and psychological consequences are also due to the longer effect and retention time of the drugs in the body. The extent of the consequences depends in particular on the form of consumption, the duration of use and the dose. One of the special risks is the frequent lack of knowledge on the part of consumers about the purity and composition of the respective substance, so that the intensity and duration of the effect and the possible side effects can hardly be estimated.

Get professional help as early as possible

The first point of contact for drug abuse can be drug counseling centers. On the website of the Federal Center for Health Education (BzgA), drug users can look for addiction advice centers in their area. “Those who are addicted need treatment that is adapted to the type of addictive substance, the stage and the severity of the disease. Depending on the severity of the disease, it can be done on an outpatient or inpatient basis, ”reports Prof. Bleich. “It is crucial to motivate the addict to quit in their own interest and to offer measures to prevent a relapse. The patient must learn alternative mechanisms for problems and conflicts so that he does not resort to drugs again in stressful situations and bad times. It is important to stabilize the personality of the person concerned, to strengthen the mostly very reduced self-confidence and to restore the ability to control one's own behavior. Comorbidities must of course also be treated, ”explains the addiction expert. After the acute therapy, further outpatient care is usually important in order to support people in remaining abstinent in the long term.

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