Teen Meth Abuse: It’s Still A Problem

Although reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate that methamphetamine use has declined, it continues to be a concern. In fact, any use of methamphetamine should be considered a problem because of the severity of the drug’s effects.

Methamphetamine (meth) is a very toxic and addictive substance that can cause severe damage to the brain and central nervous system. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or ingested orally. The high that meth produces includes excited speech, decreased appetite, increased physical activity, and elevated levels of energy. Consequences of meth use include memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, and agitation. Meth can also cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain which can lead to strokes. When it becomes a problem, teen meth abuse treatment becomes necessary to prevent the damaging effects. These are only some of the severe health consequences associated with this drug.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant. Because of its addictive quality and the danger of being abused, meth is classified as a Schedule II drug and is legally only available through prescription. When prescribed by a doctor for medical use, its dosages are significantly lower than when the drug is abused. This drug is man-made and produced in laboratories for medical purposes. However, those who abuse the drug mimic its production in small, unsafe laboratories, which are illegal.

teen using meth

According to a 2012 survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6% of teens, ages 12-17, used the drug at least once in their lifetime, 3% of teens used the drug in the last year, and 2% of teens used meth in the last month. Fortunately, the abuse rates for methamphetamine have decreased in the last year. The rate for lifetime use among 10th graders decreased from 18% in 2012 to 16% in 2013, and among 12th graders the rate for lifetime use also decreased from 17% in 2012 to 15% in 2013. Furthermore, the abuse rate among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders declined significantly between 1999-2007.

Despite these decreases, there are certain parts of the country where use of the drug remains to be a significant problem, such as in Hawaii, the West Coast, and the Midwest.

As long as meth is available and used by teens, then it continues to be a concern. Parenting adolescents requires immediate  action if your teen begins using meth. The drug is incredibly addictive because of the release of dopamine, which creates strong feelings of euphoria. However, this experience is followed by a crash that leads to repeated use of the drug and increased doses to feel the level of euphoria experienced with the first use.

It is clear that long-term use of the drug leads to significant impairment, and the use of meth during adolescence could lead to an addiction and continued use in adulthood. Fortunately, an addiction to meth is treatable and any further use can be curtailed towards living a drug-free and healthy life.