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Crystal Meth: Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Meth, or crystal methamphetamine, is an illegal man-made substance that belongs to the Methamphetamine class of drugs. Some forms of methamphetamines are legal and prescribed to treat the side-effects of mental disorders such as attention-deficit disorder (ADD). However, crystal methamphetamine has no medicinal value. Crystal meth is made with the ingredient pseudoephedrine as well as other toxic substances. It is produced into a crystalline form that mimics the appearance of shards of glass, giving it a variety of street names such as; “crystal”, “glass”, and “ice”. 

Crystal meth is increasingly popular within the nightlife community due to its ability to keep users awake for days at a time. In addition, it produces a euphoric effect that can last up to 12 hours. Some people also report experiencing a heightened libido. Meth is smoked, consumed orally, snorted, or intravenously injected. This highly addictive stimulant-drug causes a variety of long-term problems including impaired motor skills and verbal issues.

Effects Produced by Crystal Meth

  • Meth causes a user’s body temperature to rise to dangerous levels, sometimes even to the point of passing out or death. 
  • Users may experience feelings of anxiety or confusion, insomnia, rapid mood swings, and even violent thoughts/actions. 
  • When used long-term, a user’s appearance can drastically change. Users may age quickly, their skin can take on a dull or grayish color, and they can develop sores or acne. 
  • Dry mouth, stained, or rotting teeth are extremely common in people who are abusing crystal meth. This is commonly referred to as “meth mouth”. 
  • Users sometimes feel increasingly paranoid, so much so that they begin to experience auditory and visual hallucinations. These hallucinations can cause a person to become violent towards themselves or others.
  • “Meth mites” are a phenomenon that is common among crystal meth users. The user will feel as if they have bugs crawling on or under their skin. This usually causes users to pick and scratch at their skin, producing severe sores on their bodies. 

Tell-Tale Signs that Someone is Using Meth

Crystal methamphetamine is a highly addictive and extremely dangerous substance. Some people report becoming physically and mentally addicted after just a couple of uses. When someone is abusing meth, they will frequently have to increase their use in order to produce the effect they are seeking. This is due to a user building a physical tolerance to the drug. 

If you notice your loved one displaying any of these signs listed below, they may be using crystal meth:

  • Neglecting personal appearance and grooming. 
  • Obsessive picking of the hair and skin 
  • Rapid weight loss combined with a loss of appetite
  • Dilation of the pupils and rapid eye movement 
  • Insomnia and erratic sleeping patterns; not sleeping for days or weeks at a time 
  • Borrowing money, selling their possessions, or stealing in order to pay for the drug
  • Violent outbursts or mood swings 
  • Psychotic behavior such as paranoia or visual and auditory hallucinations 

These warning signs of meth use are associated with a meth addiction. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these signs, do not hesitate to contact an addiction treatment center that will safely detox yourself or your loved one. Meth addiction is severe and life-threatening. Do not attempt to detox yourself at home. 

Psychological and Physical Effects of Crystal Methamphetamine

Crystal meth causes a surge of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is vital to a person’s motor functions, motivation, and the reward system in the brain that provides us with euphoria. Abusing crystal meth causes severe changes in brain functionality. Therefore, this causes damage to the structure and function in the area of the brain that controls a person’s emotions and memories. Because of this, many meth users develop emotional and cognitive difficulties. These changes in the brain can subside after a person gets sober, but they may remain for up to a year of abstinence from the drug. 

Habitual use causes psychological side-effects such as:

  • Anxiety, irritability, and violent behavior
  • Hyper-awareness and increased concentration
  • Increased energy, libido, self-esteem, confidence, and sociability
  • Grandeur delusions with a sense of power and invincibility 
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations as well as paranoia
  • Psychomotor agitation as well as compulsive skin picking that can lead to skin sores
  • Repetitive and obsessive behaviors that may mimic symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Psychosomatic disorders (when physical symptoms are caused by mental disturbances)
  • “Meth Mites” where users experience the delusion of bugs crawling inside of their skin 

Users who frequently consume large doses of crystal meth experience a condition known as methamphetamine psychosis, which resembles the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. 

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Additionally, crystal meth causes an array of physical side-effects on top of the daunting psychological effects it can produce. 

Frequent use of crystal meth causes physical side-effects such as: 

  • Acne and itchy skin
  • Anorexia due to loss of appetite 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Constipation or diarrhea 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Dizziness 
  • Dry mouth and dry skin 
  • High body temperature or hyperthermia 
  • Headaches 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Numbness of the body 
  • Pale skin or skin that appears gray 
  • Profuse sweating 
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Restlessness, twitching, and tremors 
  • Abnormal heart rhythm, rapid heartbeat, and palpitations 

Severe tooth decay is common among meth users, so much so that people have developed the term “meth mouth”. Typically, this is due to the drug-containing acidic ingredients that are extremely detrimental to one’s teeth. Some of the ingredients include drain cleaner, battery acid, and hydrochloric acid. Other reasons for tooth decay among meth users include frequent grinding and clenching of teeth and dry mouth that decreases the amount of protective saliva. In addition, users often neglect dental hygiene during the euphoric effects of meth. 

Treatment for Meth Addiction 

Addiction treatment centers can aid a person to safely detox off of methamphetamines through a professional and medical detox program. After the withdrawal symptoms have subsided, patients should attend an inpatient or outpatient treatment center that implements addiction therapy as well as group therapy in order to get to the root issue causing their substance abuse disorder. Methamphetamine users who go through addiction treatment have a great chance of sustaining long-term sobriety. If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to crystal methamphetamine, do not hesitate to call our addiction treatment center today. 

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