Why do meth users hallucinate

Drug lexicon

Methamphetamine (crystal meth)

substance

Methamphetamine is a fully synthetic stimulant that is chemically closely related to amphetamine, also known as speed. However, the stimulatory effect and abuse potential of methamphetamine are rated as higher.

Methamphetamine was first developed in Japan in 1919. In 1938 methamphetamine came onto the market in Germany initially as an over the counter drug under the trade name Pervitin. Because cases of pervitin addiction were described at an early stage, methamphetamine was classified as a narcotic drug as early as 1941 with the aim of restricting its use.

On the black market, methamphetamine is often sold in the form of small crystals - also known as "crystal meth" - or as a light powder, and more rarely in tablet form or as capsules. In the case of illegally produced methamphetamine, however, it is not possible to determine which ingredients are actually contained in which concentration. On the black market, methamphetamine is also known as Meth, Crystal, Yaba, Perlik, Piko, Crank, Speed, Crystal-Speed ​​or Ice.

Form of consumption

As a rule, methamphetamine is sniffed, i.e. pulled through the nose. The drug can also be swallowed or smoked and injected intravenously in dissolved form.

effect

Methamphetamine works in a similar way to amphetamine. However, since methamphetamine crosses the blood-brain barrier faster and the breakdown takes significantly longer, the effect is stronger and the intoxication lasts longer. The effects of a standard single dose of amphetamine last about six to eight hours. In the case of methamphetamine, an intoxication period of up to 16 hours and in extreme cases even up to 70 hours can be observed. In addition, the side effects of consumption can last for several weeks. With frequent use, however, the duration of the effect decreases as the body builds up a tolerance to methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine develops its effects in the central nervous system mainly by interfering with the brain metabolism of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. This has a number of physical and psychological effects:


Physical effects:

  • strong physical excitement
  • Hunger and the need for sleep are suppressed
  • Increase in pulse, heart rate and blood pressure
  • accelerated breathing
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Visual disturbances (e.g. double vision) especially at high doses.
  • a headache
  • Dry mouth
  • nausea


Psychological effects experienced as pleasant:

  • increased sex drive
  • increased risk-taking, disinhibition
  • elevated self-esteem
  • euphoria
  • increased urge to talk ("Laberflash")


Psychological effects experienced as unpleasant:

  • unpleasant inner and motor restlessness
  • Nervousness, aggressiveness and outbursts of violence
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty concentrating

The physical excitement goes hand in hand with an increase in physical performance. In particular, monotonous and quickly tiresome tasks can be performed significantly longer without showing signs of exhaustion under the influence of methamphetamine. An increase in intellectual performance and creativity is perceived subjectively, but is usually not objectively present.

Risks and long-term consequences

Basically, as with all active ingredients, the risks of consumption depend on the dose, the duration of consumption and the form of administration. Methamphetamine, however, is generally considered to be a highly dangerous substance because of its extremely high effectiveness.

Studies show that long-term use of methamphetamine in particular can lead to massive physical and psychological damage. Excessive consumption leads to a state of permanent arousal, greatly reduced food and fluid intake and extremely long periods of wakefulness. This soon leads to the total exhaustion of physical and mental strength. In the long term, this can also lead to a decline in personality.

At high doses and prolonged use of methamphetamine, the following can be seen, among other things:

  • severe weight loss due to reduced food intake
  • Eating disorders (anorexia), difficulty sleeping
  • Stomach pain (in extreme cases, gastric rupture)
  • Skin inflammation ("speed pimples")
  • Severe itching with microhallucinations, when the affected person feels as if ants are crawling on or small bugs are crawling under the skin, also known as dermatozoal madness
  • Mouth rot and tooth loss, caused, among other things, by dry mouth
  • Arrhythmias, palpitations
  • Tremors in the hands and extremities (tremor)
  • Irritability, aggressive behavior
  • Lung and kidney damage
  • Brain damage with thinking and concentration disorders
  • Depression, delusions, hallucinations, anxiety disorders

Regardless of the dose consumed, amphetamine or methamphetamine consumption can affect the regulation of body temperature. This can lead to a life-threatening rise in body temperature (hyperthermia), particularly in the case of high ambient temperatures and physical stress, for example when dancing in clubs or discos.

A major risk with methamphetamine use is that high potential for dependency, whereby a strong psychological dependency can develop in particular. The fact that the body gets used to methamphetamine very quickly - just like with speed and cocaine - also contributes to this. The dose must then be increased to achieve the desired effect. After physical withdrawal, the psychological dependence is usually still very pronounced, so that the risk of relapse is correspondingly high even after successful therapy.

Smoking the free methamphetamine base, which is also known as "ice", is considered a particularly risky form of consumption. Poisoning through overdosing can occur very quickly. At the same time, the development of tolerance and the potential for dependence on smoking are significantly increased. In some people, even nasal or oral consumption of small doses of methamphetamine leads to hypersensitivity reactions with severe, sometimes life-threatening states of excitement and spasms.

Psychotic symptoms

Under the influence of methamphetamine, psychotic symptoms such as paranoid hallucinations with anxiety, aggressive outbursts and panic attacks can occur. In so-called intoxication psychosis, these symptoms often disappear after the substance is discontinued. However, there are also reports in which prolonged psychosis was probably triggered as a result of methamphetamine use. However, it is still unclear whether persistent methamphetamine psychoses are separate forms of psychosis or whether they are drug-induced schizophrenia.

Even after the acute effects of methamphetamine have subsided, severe after-effects such as a depressed mood for several days, anxiety, concentration disorders, delusions and paranoid hallucinations can occur. Consumers then also use other calming substances as "downers" in order to alleviate the undesirable after-effects.

Beware of mixed consumption

Methamphetamine addicts are often polytoxicomaniac, so they also consume other psychoactive substances. However, mixed consumption with other substances should be avoided at all costs. For example, the effect of alcohol is subjectively perceived to be greatly weakened by methamphetamine. Anyone who drinks alcohol at the same time runs the risk of alcohol poisoning. In addition, the mixed consumption of methamphetamine and alcohol increases the willingness to use violence and risk, as well as the risk of accidents.

distribution

From a global perspective, the manufacture and consumption of methamphetamine are mainly concentrated in North America and Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Indonesia. In Europe, the Czech Republic and Lithuania in particular are affected by increased consumer numbers and increased methamphetamine production. In 2011, the United Nations reported on 350 methamphetamine laboratories discovered in the EU, including 328 in the Czech Republic. However, the prevalence of methamphetamine use among Czech adolescents has decreased from 5.5 percent in the late 1990s to 2 percent in 2011. In contrast, an increase in the consumption of crystal meth has been observed in recent years in the German-Czech border areas, especially in Saxony and Bavaria as well as in Saxony-Anhalt.

Legal situation

Since methamphetamine has no therapeutic use, but plays a role in the manufacture of certain drugs, it is listed in Appendix II of the Narcotics Act as a non-prescription, but marketable narcotic.

Swell:

  • Barr A.M. et al. (2006). The need for speed: an update on methamphetamine addiction. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2006; 31 (5): 301-13.
  • European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2014). Exploring methamphetamine trends in Europe, EMCDDA Papers, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
  • Geschwinde, T. (2013). Intoxicating Drugs: Market Forms and Modes of Action. Heidelberg, Dordrecht, London, New York: Springer.
  • McKetin et al. (2006). The prevalence of psychotic symptoms among methamphetamine users. Addiction, 101: 1473, doi: 10.1111 / j.1360-0443.2006.01496.x.
  • Niemi-Pynttäri, J. A., Sund, R., Putkonen, H., Vorma, H., Wahlbeck, K. & Pirkola, S. P. (2013). Substance-Induced Psychoses Converting Into Schizophrenia: A Register-Based Study of 18,478 Finnish Inpatient Cases. J Clin Psychiatry, 74 (1), e94-e99.

 


Information as of November 2016


All entries in the drug lexicon for the letter "M"