Symptoms Of A Speed Addiction
Medically reviewed byJoseph Sitarik, DO
January 23, 2019
Speed is the powdered form of methamphetamine that carries a very high potential for abuse and addiction. Knowing the symptoms of a speed addiction could help save a life.
Speed is a Schedule II stimulant that impacts the central nervous system and carries a very high potential for abuse and addiction. It is considered to be more potent than amphetamines, its precursor, because more of the drug is able to transcend the blood brain barrier and get into a person’s brain. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 1.2 million people within the United States used methamphetamine within the surveyed year.
How Is It Used?
In the beginning of the 1900s methamphetamine had a fairly benign existence—it was used in minor medical preparations, such as bronchial inhalers. Today, due to its high potential for abuse, methamphetamine has a very limited use within the medical realm, being used for ADHD and minor weight loss. It is important to note that prescribed doses are far, far less than those that are used when it is abused illicitly.
In comparison to another stimulant, cocaine, speed is different in the fact that it takes longer to process out of the body. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it only takes an hour for 50 percent of cocaine taken to be removed from a person’s body in comparison to the 12 hours that it takes for methamphetamine.
This is a contributing reason to why people engage in what is called “binging and crashing.” Despite the fact that the drug remains in your system for this period of time, the user fails to feel it after a markedly shorter period of time, inciting them to take more and more to keep their high and euphoric state going. This may occur for extended periods of time that can last for several days.
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Speed Changes Your Ability To Feel Pleasure
NIDA says that “The methamphetamine molecule is structurally similar to amphetamine and to the neurotransmitter dopamine, a brain chemical that plays an important role in the regulation of reward.” Due to this, and the large amounts of dopamine that flood a methamphetamine/speed user’s system, their pleasure and reward systems may be drastically off-balanced and compromised.
In reference to this, NIDA cites that “Chronic methamphetamine abusers may develop difficulty feeling any pleasure other than that provided by the drug, fueling further abuse.” This is one of the reasons it is so addictive. A person is not only physically addicted to it, but psychologically, because it becomes the only thing that makes them feel good. Hence they keep taking more to maintain this false sense of wellbeing. As their tolerance increases, the amount they need to take to achieve these feelings increases, which proportionately increases the dangers.
Signs That Someone Suffers From A Speed Addiction
When a person uses speed, their body and mind become virtually instantly assaulted by this dangerous and highly addictive drug. As a person’s use becomes more chronic, they begin to develop even more symptoms, which illustrate the detriment this drug has on your physical, mental, and emotional states.
Like other stimulants, speed, even in lower quantities, can cause the following:
- A suppressed appetite
- An acute sense of wakefulness, marked by greater physical activity
- Increased respiration, blood pressure, and temperature
- Changes to the way your heart functions, including an increased rate and irregular heartbeat
As a person’s use increases over time and becomes chronic, they will begin to exhibit other, more serious symptoms:
- Impaired thinking and motor skills
- Impaired judgement and decreased inhibitions
- Trouble focusing—easily distracted
- Trouble with memory
- Violent outbursts and increased aggression
- Anxiety and unpredictable mood changes
- Dental problems
- Skin lesions due to the scratching that many methamphetamine users experience
- Severe weight loss
Using Speed Increases Your Risk Of Disease And Bodily Harm
The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), an entity that was responsible for tracking specific drug use in connection with Emergency Department (ED) visits, found that in 2011, nearly 103,000 ED visits were attributed to methamphetamine. This number was up from the roughly 68,000 that were reported in 2007. To further compound the potential for risk and damage, in the former year, 62 percent of these visits involved another drug being used at the same time as speed. Any time you use more than one drug together, risk increases.
Individuals who use speed have an increased risk of stroke, and some research exhibits a link to an increased rate of Parkinson’s disease. People who use this drug often develop an increased libido. This paired with decreased judgement and inhibitions leads to an increased risk of HIV and other diseases from the unsafe sex that might result from use.
For those who already have AIDS or HIV, research shows that these people might be at greater risk if they take methamphetamine. NIDA comments on this, stating “ Studies indicate that HIV causes more injury to neurons and greater cognitive impairment in individuals who are HIV-positive and use methamphetamine than it does in HIV-positive people who do not use the drug.”
Abuse Can Result In Severe Damage To Your Brain
Methamphetamine changes your brain’s chemistry, thus it exerts an impact on your brain’s functioning that can manifest is some frightening ways. NIDA elaborates on this, stating that chronic abusers “may display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping under the skin).” Some people may experience evidence of this impact by displaying psychotic symptoms for a significant period of time—as long a years—after they cease use.
Individuals who use methamphetamine in excess for a prolonged period of time often exhibit emotional and cognitive problems. NIDA references studies and research that posits this might be due to “alterations in the activity of the dopamine system that are associated with reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning” and “severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory.”
Within your brain you have non-neural cells called microglia that help to upkeep your brain’s health by warding off infections and clearing out neurons that have become injured in some way. When too many of these cells are present—as some research has shown to result from methamphetamine use—healthy, viable cells might become caught in the crosshairs, which according to NIDA might “explain some of the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine.” Fortunately, research illustrated that after two years of sobriety, these levels were comparable to those of individuals who did not use.
Remember, the sooner you quit using drugs, the sooner your body can begin healing. The longer you use drugs, the greater your chances are of developing a serious or life-threatening condition that could be caused or exacerbated by your drug use and abuse.
Don’t Let Your Life Pass You By
Like any drug abuse, therapy is essential to overcoming your addiction. NIDA says that “The most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction at this point are behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral and contingency-management interventions.” Our team can help you to examine what route would be best for you, so that you can overcome this exceedingly harmful and debilitating drug.
Speed can hijack your life and consume massive amounts of your time and health. If you’re using speed and you don’t know how to stop the dangerous momentum from your drug use, don’t let it go any further. If you suspect that a friend or loved one is using, or if you witness any of the aforementioned symptoms in yourself or someone you know, please don’t hesitate—contact us at RehabCenter.net today. We can help you to learn how to take control over your addiction or to help someone dear to you do the same.