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An Introduction to Substance Use Disorders for Dental Professionals

Course Number: 545


The statistics for methamphetamine (meth) abuse in the United States have increased in the last decade as documented in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports. In 2013, there were 595,000 current users of meth compared to 353,000 in 2010. In 2019, the number of users rose to 0.7% (2 million people) who had utilized meth within the last year. In 2022, 1% of the US population (2.7 million) aged 12 and older utilized meth in the last year.44,60,61

Meth can be made from inexpensive medications (pseudoephedrine) or simple over-the-counter chemicals (lye, muriatic and sulfuric acids) that are easily obtained.56 Street names include Speed, Ice, Chalk, Crank and Crystal.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive synthetic amine that stimulates the release and blocks the re-uptake of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The action of these neurotransmitting monoamines is to stimulate the reward centers of the brain and give the characteristic “high” of the substance. Lack of appetite frequently accompanies this drug’s effect. The high can last up to14 hours. During the high, the user is typically impaired and unable to care for themselves or others. Long-term use leads to depletion of these neurotransmitters, resulting in emotional depression.23