Signs of Meth Addiction, Abuse, and Use
Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive drug. It is the third most used recreational drug in the US. It gives users a feeling of alertness, energy, or euphoria. It can be ingested as a pill, injected into the veins, snorted up the nose, or smoked via a meth pipe. All these forms of meth abuse are dangerous and lead to a variety of health problems.
Methamphetamine comes in a variety of forms. It is odorless and dissolves in liquid. Meth has a variety of street or code names, such as ‘glass’, ‘shards’, ‘ice’, or ‘tina’. Meth addiction is more likely to affect people with previous substance abuse or those with a history of mental illness.
It is important to know the signs of methamphetamine abuse to recognize the symptoms and decide whether you or a loved one needs treatment. It can be difficult to start, but it is possible with the right professional treatment.
Understanding Meth Addiction
Like all forms of drug abuse, meth addiction makes the user feel a rush of energy referred to as a high. This is because meth use produces dopamine, known as the happy chemical, as it releases feelings of pleasure in your brain. It also increases alertness, making it a popular party drug. Addiction to meth can happen after one use.
The high from using meth usually lasts four to twelve hours. Unlike other drugs such as cocaine, meth stays in the body longer giving a stronger, more intense high. This then leads to a comedown, where users will experience a loss of energy and negative emotions. These and other withdrawal symptoms will lead the user to want to use the drug again or take larger amounts of meth to prolong their high.
Meth is commonly made in home laboratories in small batches. Meth production has become more popular as it is low cost and the ingredients are readily available, making meth easier to access for drug users.
What are the Signs of Meth Addiction?
The signs of meth addiction can be physical, emotional, or behavioral. Meth addiction can affect all areas of the body, and every user can react differently to the addiction. There are common signs to look for if you are concerned that someone is using meth.
Physical Signs of Meth Abuse
- Intense scratching or bruised and irritated skin
- Weight loss
- Damage to the mouth and gums, also known as meth mouth
- Twitching of the body
- Increased tolerance to meth, needing to do more to get the same high
- Withdrawal symptoms
Psychological Signs of Meth Use
- Mood swings
- Lack of concentration
- Impaired judgment
- A feeling of something crawling on the skin
Social Signs of Meth Abuse
- Loss of interest in anything other than meth use
- Taking part in dangerous activities to get meth
- Not taking care of yourself, personal hygiene, appearance, etc.
- Losing touch with family or friends who are not drug takers, leading to social isolation
- Failing to stop taking meth
- Lying to loved ones about the extent of meth addiction
Immediate Side Effects and Symptoms of Meth Use
Immediately after meth use, the user will display:
- An increase in energy
- A fast/irregular heartbeat
- Fast breathing
- Feeling very warm
This is followed by a crash phase. The crash phase will cause the user to display signs of physical exhaustion and sleep for long periods of time, even entire days.
Long-Term Health Effects of Meth Use
How Different Methods Affect Users
As explained at the beginning of this article, there are many ways to use methamphetamine. Each method has different risk factors that can cause serious long-term damage to the health of the user.
When using needles to inject meth, there can be a risk of sharing needles with other users, who could potentially be carrying HIV or Hepatitis B/C. Drug users, especially those who share needles, are more likely to catch these viruses. They can all cause long-term health issues if caught and can be deadly if left untreated.
There is also a chance of developing collapsed veins with continued injections. Often, drug users will move to a different area of the body when they can no longer use a vein. There are often many collapsed veins on the body of a user, which can cause infections.
Snorting meth up the nose can cause sinus damage. This can lead to permanent nasal issues in the future such as a hole in the septum.
Smoking meth is the most common way to use it, with up to 66% of users using a meth pipe. Using a pipe can lead to corrosion of the teeth and gums, more commonly known as meth mouth.
Other long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse include signs of premature aging. Methamphetamine damages the blood vessels and tissues, causing the body to heal slower. This can lead to visible skin conditions such as acne. This is also the cause of meth mouth as the teeth and gums deteriorate.
Meth causes high blood pressure, which weakens the heart and can lead to heart disease or heart attacks. It also damages the immune system, leaving users vulnerable to other infections or diseases.
Tweaking occurs when the user is coming to the end of a drug binge and can no longer experience a high. This causes them to go straight into severe withdrawal symptoms that can last several days. Whilst they will experience intense cravings, further meth use will not make any difference. Tweaking can then cause symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions.
Chronic meth use can damage the brain pathways that create dopamine, causing negative emotions and even memory loss.
The Dangers of Meth Use
While methamphetamine is dangerous in its most potent form, it can become more dangerous. Further immediate dangers associated with meth addiction are how it is produced. As it is made illegally, there are no safety checks performed. This means that producers add in a number of different chemicals to make the drug cheaper, thus increasing their profit margins. These chemicals include:
- Red dye
All these chemicals are highly dangerous, and some can even be fatal.
The longer a user takes meth, the more likely they are to have an overdose. This is because they develop a higher tolerance through continued use, meaning it will take more to feel the same high. Symptoms of an overdose include:
- Dangerously high body temperature
- Organ problems
- Heart attack
If you think you or someone else is experiencing an overdose, seek medical help immediately.
Paraphernalia Associated with Meth Addiction
Other physical signs of meth use are the items that a person would need to use methamphetamine. These include:
- Glass pipes
- Aluminum foil
- Small plastic bags
- Empty pens/ cut straws
Meth and Mental Health Disorders
Meth addiction is likely to affect people with pre-existing mental illnesses. This is because both disorders negatively impact each other. This can make it even harder for users to stop their methamphetamine abuse. Users with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, are more likely to have a drug dependence.
Both drug abuse and mental illnesses can be brought on by stress. Users can get trapped in a circle of using drugs to relieve the symptoms of mental illness but ultimately making them worse. It can be difficult to tell the difference between meth use and mental health problems as the physical symptoms are similar, and those suffering from a mental illness will find it more difficult to seek treatment themselves.
Criminal Behavior in Meth Users
Methamphetamine use often leads to crime. Not only does meth use cause users to take risks, but they are almost solely focused on how they will get their next fix, no matter what they must do to get it.
Substance abuse can cause the user to commit violent acts. Meth use is one of the most likely to affect people due to the paranoia and intense cravings it gives users’ brains. While meth-related violence is most likely to affect partners, close family, and friends, it can also be random acts. Relationship problems because of meth can lead to domestic abuse.
Prolonged meth use can also lead to becoming further involved in crime. This can include crimes such as:
- Stealing money from relatives and friends
- Stealing small items (phones or handbags etc.) that are easy to sell or exchange for meth
Drug abuse causes a person to be vulnerable, as they are dependent on meth and desperate to get it. This can make them more likely to be used by organized crime gangs to traffic drugs. Whilst the possibility of crime involvement for you or your loved one can seem scary, it is important to remember that help and treatment are available.
Other Dangerous Behavior in Methamphetamine Use
As well as criminal behavior, meth use can also increase the risk of taking part in dangerous sexual practices. These include:
- Being less likely to use condoms
- Turning to prostitution to fund their habit
- Having more casual sex
- A higher libido and interest in sex
These practices can lead to sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. Most STIs are treatable but can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or cancer if left untreated. It is common for long-term meth users to not seek treatment for these issues. If you suspect that you or a loved one has a sexually transmitted disease, seek treatment quickly.
Find Treatment for Meth Addiction
It can be very difficult to overcome any form of substance abuse disorder. Therefore, seeking help from medical professionals or treatment centers is the best way to treat addiction.
Withdrawal and rehabilitation can be incredibly challenging, so we make sure to offer the physical and emotional support needed during this difficult time.
The beginning of any drug rehab treatment will involve detoxing. This is where the user will go through the withdrawal symptoms as quickly and as pain-free as possible in a controlled environment. Detoxing symptoms can include:
This means careful handling is vital. Symptoms usually appear after 24 hours after the last dose and can last up to 20 days, with the worst symptoms at around 10-14 days.
After detox, you will receive rehab therapies and support.
Treatment at the Ebb Tide Treatment Center
At our treatment center, you will receive a personalized treatment plan. Every journey to recovery is different, so you will receive a mixture of therapy to suit your needs.
Different types of therapy we offer are:
- Group therapy. Discussing issues in groups can make you feel more supported, especially with people who are going through similar issues. Newer clients are also more likely to feel inspired by others and more likely to commit to treatment.
- Personal therapy. This is also known as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. It is important to tackle the underlying issues that led the client to drug use. This is important, not only to prevent drug relapses, but to improve the person’s life as a whole.
Treatment at the center will also teach you how to develop healthy coping mechanisms. You learn to deal with triggers or family and childhood/ family issues that could lead to drug use. You will also learn other ways to move forward in your life drug-free. This includes how to lead a healthy lifestyle, with exercise, a balanced diet, and regular sleep.
If you or a loved one need support and treatment for addiction, contact us today.