A look into the dangerous world of Dallas’s meth users
While opioids, alcohol, and marijuana seem to dominate current discussions of drug misuse, meth has made deadly inroads into our daily lives. In the Dallas metropolitan area, seizures of methamphetamines have surged to 430% in the past few years. Dallas rehab centers have also seen a massive influx of methamphetamine-related cases in recent years.
Once seen as a less-desirable substitute to opioids like heroin or fentanyl, methamphetamines now have their own market and are among the most used drugs in America.
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 0.6 percent of the population of the United States — 1.6 million people — had used methamphetamines (sometimes called speed, ice, crystal, crank, chalk, Tina, tweak, and other street names) in the past 12 months.
Of those 1.6 million people, 774,000, or about 1 in 300 Americans, had used methamphetamines in the past month. These are already staggering numbers and are likely to be much higher due to the self-reported nature of the survey.
The Dallas meth problem
Given the role of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro as a regional transportation hub, it has become a popular stop for criminal gangs transporting methamphetamines and other illicit drugs to the rest of the country.
While most of the meth that passes through Dallas likely gets transported to other American cities where it could command a higher street price, the Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington metro is in itself is also a major market for these illicit drugs.
What’s more, gangs that want to reduce the risks of transporting meth across the country often offload the drug in Dallas, at bargain-basement prices. Given the extremely addictive nature of meth, this has had the effect of causing emergency rooms and drug rehabs in Dallas to experience record numbers of methamphetamine-related admissions.
It can be hard to truly grasp how dangerous this drug is without a deeper insight into what it does. If you or someone you know is hooked on meth, call Dallas Drug Treatment Centers at (214) 935-2287 to find rehab centers in Dallas that specialize in methamphetamine use disorders. You can also call us to find recovery support groups, therapy recommendations, and more.
Methamphetamine use disorders
By most definitions, the use of a substance in a way that isn’t medically recommended is considered to be misuse. While methamphetamines are occasionally prescribed for narcolepsy and ADHD, these legitimate use cases comprise a small minority of meth use.
As with many other addictive drugs, methamphetamine misuse can quickly lead to a methamphetamine use disorder (MUD), a psychiatric condition where the user is compelled to seek out and consume meth and similar stimulants.
Since the release of the latest edition of the DSM-5 in 2013, methamphetamine use disorder has supplanted both “methamphetamine abuse” and “methamphetamine addiction” as the preferred terminology, as it has been found that abuse and addiction, previously considered to be different conditions, are different forms of the same disease.
How meth affects the brain
Healthy brain function depends on the brain’s ability to maintain a balance of different chemicals. When a person uses meth, it disrupts the balance of some of these chemicals, particularly the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for helping different nerve cells communicate with each other. More dopamine in the system increases nerve responsiveness, sometimes causing twitching, racing thoughts, and other effects associated with stimulants.
When the brain sees disruption in this way, it may still be able to compensate. But with prolonged meth use, it learns to accommodate the presence of this drug. At this point, a meth user’s brain may no longer be able to produce dopamine on its own. This means the user cannot stop using the drug without upsetting the brain’s chemical balance all over again. Doing so can cause very serious withdrawal symptoms that need inpatient withdrawal management and detox treatment.
Regular methamphetamine use can also restructure the brain’s reward mechanisms so that regular users don’t feel normal and can’t feel pleasure without methamphetamines in their system. This restructuring remains even after a “chemical detox” and often requires months of counseling and therapy to overcome.
Meth use can also affect the brain in other ways. As a powerful stimulant, it can keep users from getting enough sleep. The lack of sleep can play havoc with a person’s mood, memory, hormonal balance, and decision-making. There is even evidence that connects stimulant-induced sleep deprivation with permanent brain damage.
The behavioral effects of meth
As mentioned earlier, methamphetamines have stimulant effects on the central nervous system, including the brain. This can cause noticeable behavioral changes in users.
Some of these changes include:
- Antisocial behavior
- Heightened attention span
- Increased libido
- Compulsive and repetitive actions
- Lowered inhibition
- Mood disturbances
- Inaccurate judgment
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of a sense of time
Effects of meth on the body
Meth’s powerful stimulant properties can also cause several negative effects on the body. Smoking, snorting, or injecting meth can also cause damage to skin and mucosal tissue.
Some of meth’s physical effects include:
- Tooth grinding/ tooth loss
- Poor fine motor skills
- Immune system damage
- Damage to lungs and mucous membranes (when smoking or snorting crystal meth)
- Poor cardiac health
- Skin lesions
- Mouth burns
- Weight loss
- Injection site lesions
Where to get meth rehab and support in Dallas
Resistance to treatment is common among people with methamphetamine use disorders. Meth’s powerful effects on the brain can make it difficult for users to be aware of what’s happening to them. If you believe that you or someone you care about is hooked on meth, a call to Dallas Drug Treatment Centers at (214) 935-2287 can be a good idea.
Our team can connect you to drug treatment programs in Dallas that specialize in methamphetamine use disorders. If you or a loved one has already undergone a meth detox and you fear a relapse, we can also connect you to different support groups and clinicians that can help with a sustainable, long-term recovery.