A Schedule II stimulant drug, methamphetamine has the ability to affect the central nervous system and is considered one of the most addictive and destructive drugs. Also known by other names, including “meth,” “crystal” and “ice,” the drug works by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s pleasure, reward and motivation centers, and its rapid release in the reward region of the brain makes the drug user experience euphoric effects. Some experts also believe that the elevated release of dopamine can contribute to meth’s harmful effects on the nerve terminals in the brain.
People consume methamphetamine – usually called “meth” for short – in various ways, including swallowing, snorting, taking intravenously or smoking. Mexican drug cartels are reported to smuggle in the majority of meth in the United States. However, small domestic meth labs also contribute to the supply. Methamphetamine addiction has reached crisis proportions in communities across the United States. While methamphetamine abuse has inspired many works of fiction, such as television series “Breaking Bad,” its consequences are all too real for millions of Americans, creating an ever-growing need for methamphetamine withdrawal treatment and meth treatment programs. In 2016, approximately 667,000 people (0.7 million) in the U.S. (aged 12 or above) used methamphetamine. According to the PBS series Frontline, “There are two current basic profiles of methamphetamine users: students (both high school and college) and white, blue-collar and unemployed persons in their 20s and 30s.”