Methamphetamine addiction has reached alarming proportions, with the number of global users outnumbering other users of other stimulant drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Health authorities from the U.S have warned that if appropriate steps are not taken to change the trend, it could lead to a global threat.
Methamphetamine or crystal meth, as it is commonly known, is a stimulant that induces euphoria in its users. Discovered in 1919 and originally intended for the treatment of nasal decongestion, the drug is now being used by college students, athletes and truck drivers. Sadly, the drug is no longer used for its therapeutic benefit.
Soldiers who had participated in the World War II are said to have used the drug to improve their alertness. The release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter into specific brain areas that regulate feelings of pleasure has been accounted for its stimulant effects. Even when taken at very small doses, it results in a prolonged stimulant effect.
Although short-term use of the drug can enhance alertness and physical activity, long-term methamphetamine use can lead to unfavorable side effects such as aggressive or violent behavior (manifested at decreasing drug effect) and depression. This eventually leads to addiction, characterized by compulsive drug seeking or craving.
The stimulant, which can be smoked, snorted or injected, can also induce a loss in memory and psychotic behavior. In addition, there is also an increased risk of AIDS/HIV, hepatitis transmission, cardiovascular and brain damage.
Currently, no standard medication has been approved for management of methamphetamine addiction. However, few studies have highlighted that Bupropion (an antidepressant) can be used for treatment of the same.
In view of the global meth threat, it is high time that the scientific community devises some effective strategy to combat methamphetamine drug addiction that continues to be a significant challenge.