Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, acts on the central nervous system causing euphoric feelings. These effects and its potency make it high risk for drug abuse.
Methamphetamine abuse can be dangerous, leading to increased risk factors for stroke and heart attack. It can also affect your personal life leading to distancing from family members and relationship problems.
If you are worried that you or a loved one has a meth addiction problem, it is important to get the help you need. The quicker drug abuse is helped, the easier life becomes but it is never too late to seek support.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a synthetic compound typically made by combining ephedrine or pseudoephedrine with other chemicals that can be poisonous and flammable. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are found in over-the-counter cough and cold medications. With these compounds, meth is easy to make, and therefore most illicit meth is produced in home labs.
Methamphetamine is found in two primary forms: meth or crystal meth. Meth is a crystalline powder that is usually white whereas crystal meth is clear or blue and comes in coarse crystals which are typically smoked. While structurally different, meth and crystal meth are chemically the same. Though less common, it is also possible to get methamphetamine as a pill.
Developed in 1919, methamphetamine was used during WWII to keep soldiers alert. By the 1950s, it was prescribed to treat severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity. However, due to the high risk for abuse, in 1970 meth was classed as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. There is now only one legal methamphetamine, Desoxyn, still used to treat ADHD and obesity.
Illicit meth can have dangerous impurities as it is sometimes cut with prescription medications such as antidepressants or opioids. These can be dangerous due to their chemical interaction with meth in the body. They also increase the risk of overdose. Meth is also sometimes cut with fentanyl which can be toxic in small doses.
In 2017, 964,000 people in the US were reported to have a meth use disorder. Meth leads to an increased release of dopamine and adrenaline in the user’s brain affecting motor function, motivation, reward, learning, memory, and pleasure.
Because it causes euphoric feelings, dependency can occur very quickly as you seek the same high. Injecting meth can lead to particularly quick dependency due to the ‘rush’ it causes within the first thirty minutes of taking it.
Those with previous substance abuse disorders or with a history of mental illness have a higher risk of addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Meth Abuse
Meth abuse produces both psychological and physical signs. The effects of meth vary from person to person and are also based on how long and frequently you have been a user.
There are also behavioral symptoms that might be an indication of whether you or a loved one have an addiction to meth.
Common Physical Symptoms of Meth Addiction
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
- Uncontrollable and erratic twitching
- Damage to the mouth, teeth, and gums (‘Meth mouth’)
- Appetite loss
- Bruised, scabbed skin, and sores
- Increased libido
Tooth and Gum Damage
Continued meth abuse leads to severe tooth decay and gum diseases which can result in teeth breaking or falling out.
Typically ‘meth mouth’ is characterized by blackened, strained, crumbling, and rotting teeth.
Tooth and gum damage can be caused by a combination of factors. Meth highs can last for long periods in which dental hygiene is often not considered. In addition, it can cause grinding or clenching of teeth.
Meth use can cause dry skin which becomes uncomfortable. Intense scratching or picking at skin can cause sores.
This scratching can be caused by hallucinations as users of meth might feel the sensation of bugs crawling on or underneath their skin, and scratch to get rid of them.
Meth use increases libido as well as risk-taking behavior. This makes the risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases higher among people using meth as they are more likely to have unprotected sex.
Common Psychological Symptoms of Meth Addiction
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Memory loss
- Exacerbation of existing mental health conditions
- Intense mood swings
Tweaking is most likely to occur when you are on a long meth binge. Due to the effects meth has on sleep, a binge will often mean that you do not sleep which can continue for days.
Tweaking can be unpredictable and can appear like psychosis. It can cause you to hurt yourself or others.
Effects on Dopamine
Dopamine affects motivation, reward, learning, memory, and pleasure. This means that continued use of meth can lead to memory loss and problems retaining information.
It is also one of the reasons that meth is such a powerful drug in terms of its high risk for dependency. Feelings of euphoria are so intense that they are sought after again and again.
Common Behavioral Signs of Meth Addiction
Meth deeply affects how you act in your personal life, and what you consider to be important.
You might be able to see signs of meth addiction in your relationship to the drug as well as your relationship with people who are close to you.
Behavioral Signs Include
- Increased meth use as tolerance builds
- Trying and failing to quit
- Obsession with getting the next dose
- Feeling like meth has taken over life
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be important to you
- Failing to meet personal responsibilities
- Unable to control the amount or frequency of meth use
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Neglect of self-care
Chronic Meth Use
Chronic meth use can have even more detrimental effects on your health which can be permanent. Seeking treatment before you develop these signs is beneficial for your long-term help.
Signs of Chronic Meth Use Include
- Damaged blood vessels in the brain
- Damage to dopamine-containing cells
- Increased risk of stroke and heart attack
- Liver and kidney damage
- Lung disease
- Memory loss
- Extreme mood swings
- Psychosis and depression
- Severe tooth decay
- Collapsed veins (if injecting)
- Chronic nosebleeds (if snorting)
Even if you have already developed these signs of chronic abuse, it is never too late to seek treatment if this is something you want and are ready for. It is useful to understand withdrawal and addiction treatment so that you can make an informed decision.
The first step to quitting drugs is detox. This is when you stop taking the drug and the toxins leave your body. The length of detox is marked by withdrawal symptoms. These occur because your body thinks it needs the drug to function.
Withdrawal varies from person to person and is based on factors such as how heavily and frequently you take meth.
There are both acute and post-acute symptoms. Acute symptoms include cravings, irritability, and dehydration which usually last for seven to ten days. Post-acute symptoms include fatigue, depression, and psychosis, and they commonly last for three to four weeks. Getting treatment from a treatment center can help to manage both acute and post-acute symptoms, making the withdrawal process less difficult and reducing the chances of relapse significantly.
It is generally advised to detox at a dedicated treatment center. This is because withdrawal can be very difficult and there is a high risk of relapsing during this time.
At a detox center, you with have twenty-four-hour support so that your withdrawal symptoms are managed and you are as comfortable as possible.
Since detox is usually not enough to stop taking drugs long-term, treatment centers offer ongoing support such as support groups and therapy.
For those whose responsibilities prevent them from being able to spend time as an inpatient, it is also possible to obtain outpatient care.
Contact Us Today
Cirque Lodge is a luxury alcohol and drug rehab center, and our holistic approach recognizes that each individual’s recovery is different. We use a combination of techniques including the traditional twelve-step model, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, experiential therapy, and outdoor activities.
If you are ready to receive treatment or would like to find out more about your treatment options, please visit our website or call us at (385) 220-8887.
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