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What are the Signs of a Meth Addiction?

man sitting against a wall with his arms crossed struggling with meth addiction

Signs of meth addiction include many physical symptoms that make noticing abuse easier. People using meth can suffer from meth mouth or sores and may become very thin. Other behavioral signs of meth addiction are paranoia, confusion, and mood swings.

In 2020, an estimated 2.6 million United States respondents reported having used methamphetamine. In addition, in the same survey, 1.5 million respondents reported having a methamphetamine use disorder.

According to the 2019 Treatment Episode Data Set, a semi-regular census of those who seek treatment for rehabilitation, 209,014 patients were admitted to care centers for the primary use of methamphetamine.

Getting help for yourself or a loved one in the throes of addiction can be a formidable task. However, getting proper care and the ability to move forward should always take priority.

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant with fast-acting and long-term effects. It is used in prescription form to treat narcolepsy, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and blood pressure disorders, but it can also be abused and used in illegal, illicit ways.

Methamphetamine, commonly shortened to meth, is highly addictive and powerful. When not created in a regulated medical setting, illegal methamphetamine is created in home labs through a combination of concentrated over-the-counter medicines and chemicals unsuitable for consumption, like household cleaners. Some common street names for meth are speed, crystal, and crank, but the language can change over time or depend on the region.

When prescribed and taken as directed, methamphetamine can have positive effects on users’ lives. The issue lies in recreational usage, where unregulated use can lead to addiction. However, as with most addictive substances, the body begins to tolerate them over time. Tolerance may cause a person to use more crystal meth to get the same high they once got with a lower dose.

How Do People Use Meth?

When using meth recreationally, you can find it in a white powder form or a glass-like form known as crystal meth. Meth can be smoked, melted and injected, swallowed, and snorted.

Smoking meth is done through a glass pipe with a long stem and an almost spherical end. A pipe that has been used will have a black burn mark on the bottom of the bulbous end, and meth will leave a yellow, waxy residue in the “bowl” of the pipe. Similarly, users can inhale meth vapors out of creased aluminum foil, soda cans, and spoons.

In the case of snorting meth, along with straws and pens, other paraphernalia present would be razor blades and flat surfaces like a mirror or a small tray with cut marks where meth has been cut up.

Users can also inject meth. A sign of this is the presence of hypodermic needles and injection scars or “track marks” on the user. Meth is dissolved in water to be injected, which is considered a riskier way to use methamphetamine.

Symptoms and Warning Signs of Meth Abuse

Methamphetamine use can lead to severe addiction, and its abuse is an ongoing and widespread issue in the United States. Drug abuse creates serious health problems and sometimes leads to fatal consequences. Knowing the signs, symptoms, and side effects of crystal meth abuse can help you identify whether someone you know may be using this dangerous drug.

Someone who is actively high on meth will seem talkative, alert, motivated, and confident with dilated pupils. Some short-term signs of meth addiction include tremors, hyperthermia, poor appetite, weight loss, and sleep disturbances. The following are long-term physical, psychological, and behavioral signs and symptoms of meth addiction.

Physical Signs

  • Meth Mouth: The colloquial term, meth mouth, is a consequence of meth usage marked by severe tooth decay and gum disease, as well as broken and missing teeth. Tooth decay and tooth loss are likely caused by various factors, including methamphetamine side effects such as dry mouth and long periods of poor oral hygiene due to psychological and physiological changes. On top of this, methamphetamine is also acidic.
  • Meth Sores: Chronic meth use causes the user to experience extreme paranoia and, in some cases, hallucinations. Long-term meth users report experiencing tactile sensations, or the feeling of ‘bugs crawling beneath the skin.’ With these sensations, coupled with paranoia and faulty thinking, users will compulsively pick and scratch at their skin.

Psychological Signs

  • Meth Psychosis: Psychosis is a state of mind where thoughts and perceptions become distorted. Meth psychosis is characterized by hallucinations, paranoia, holding unusual beliefs, and an itching sensation underneath the skin, as if bugs were crawling beneath it. To others, it will appear as conversations that are hard to follow, and the user may feel as if someone is out to get them.

Behavioral Signs

  • Tweaking: Tweaking is considered the end stage and most dangerous phase of meth addiction, which is the comedown of a binge. Because the comedowns are so undesirable, users will often continue to get high to stave off the effects. Tweaking can also happen as the body builds up a tolerance to the drug, and the ability to feel high plateaus. Those who are tweaking will have intense cravings, an altered psychological state, hallucinations, and delusions.
  • Changes in Mood: Severe mood swings and unpredictable behavior are a symptom of meth addiction. A brain imaging study in 2010 published in Psychiatric News revealed that meth users have a less active prefrontal cortex of the brain, which can contribute to violent behavior and becoming over-reactive to stimuli. In addition, the same study notes that meth users have more difficulty identifying their emotions.

Can the Effects of Meth Abuse be Reversed?

While you can not entirely reverse the long-term effects of meth abuse, there are ways to reclaim health. The long-term effects of meth abuse include a higher risk of cardiac arrest and stroke, with irreversible damage to the blood vessels in the heart and the brain. Some other effects include respiratory problems, psychosis, mental health disturbances, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and scars from compulsive skin picking.

The only way to mitigate the long-term effects of meth abuse is to enter withdrawal treatment and start some form of cardiovascular medical therapy. After one year of sobriety, the brain can begin to repair the dopamine pathways in the brain. After two years, the central nervous system can start to repair itself.

Meth Withdrawal Signs

Symptoms of meth withdrawal can be uncomfortable but are not usually life-threatening. Some early signs of withdrawal are fatigue, social withdrawal, losing the ability to feel pleasure, and phases of sleeping very little and then sleeping too much. This is when cravings start to set in. Some long-term withdrawal signs include depression, mood swings, weight gain, and psychosis.

How to Get Help

Getting help is the first step to healing from meth addiction. Here at Agape Detox, we provide a safe environment for meth detox, therapy, and setting up each patient with success post-care.

Our holistic approach to treatment provides each patient with care from trained professionals, many therapeutic options, and a comforting detox process. Call Agape Detox in St. Port Lucie, Florida, at (855)-948-2936 to learn more today.

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