Meth addiction has been a growing health problem in the United States for 20 years, and by all indications, it is not going away. Meth is a powerful psycho-stimulant drug that is made in clandestine labs across the country, and produced in massive quantities in Mexico. Contrary to many other drugs that are derived from a naturally growing plant, meth is purely synthetic and contains caustic and dangerous chemicals such as ammonia and lithium. Meth has devastating consequences on users, who experience an immediate and overwhelming euphoria that can last for up to 12 hours.
Effects of Meth Addiction
Countless meth addicts claim to have been addicted from the very first time they ever tried the drug. Meth delivers a powerful rush to the brain, which stimulates a massive dopamine surge. When this happens, the reward center of the brain is stimulated, which is what reinforces repetition. However, unlike the naturally occurring euphoria one may feel when having sex, meth blocks the ability for the brain to reabsorb the unused dopamine from the initial rush for later use. This results in the over-stimulation of the reward center, and the prolonged high associated with meth use. The unfortunate effect of this is that dopamine, essential for sensations of pleasure, ceases to be produced naturally by the brain in an attempt to resolve the sudden imbalance. As a result, when the meth high ends, users experience a severe and intense crash riddled with depression, anger, and malaise, which prompts immediate action to use meth again, and regain the euphoria.
In addition to euphoria, meth has many other, less pleasurable effects on its users. Despite the long list of dangerous and what seem to be unpleasant effects, meth addicts continue their use of this extremely powerful and addictive drug. Some of these additional effects of meth include:
- Decreased appetite
- Extreme weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Hair loss
- Muscle loss
- Tooth and gum decay
- Rapid heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Open sores on skin from picking at meth bugs (imaginary bugs users believe are crawling under the surface of their skin)
- Impaired judgment
- Increased libido
- Compulsive behavior
- Increased inhibition
- Obsessive behavior
When meth addiction develops, it typically happens very quickly because of its intense effects on users. Since meth is so powerful, and the crash from its high is so severe, meth addicts can engage in very desperate and bizarre behavior to maintain their addiction.
Furthermore, because meth causes delusions and paranoia, the degrees to which meth users can become violent and hostile towards innocent people and things can be astounding, leading to dangerous situations of serious injury or even death over a misunderstanding or a complete misjudgment.
When meth addicts are desperate for more meth, they will do whatever they can to get money to buy more. In some cases, addicts will resort to attempting to make their own meth. An unfortunate consequence of this desperate action has been several lab explosions which leave entire homes and neighborhoods consumed in chemical fires, individuals with debilitating burns all over their bodies, lost limbs, environmental hazards, and lost lives.
Dangers of Meth Addiction
In addition to the tremendous damage meth does to users brain and body, the consequences meth addiction has on the lives of addicts and those around them is palpable. Addiction to any drug results in an addict being willing to do unfathomable things in order to maintain his or her addiction, and meth addiction is no different. Individuals addicted to meth can engage in risky and illegal behavior such as:
- Theft and larceny
- Unprotected and risky sex acts
- Forgery and fraud
- Cooking dirty meth to make money for buying a higher quality from other dealers
No matter what the means, the attempts to continue using meth by addicts result in dangerous consequences, many of which do nothing to stop addicts from continuing their use of the drug. Some of the consequences of meth addiction can include:
- Legal troubles relating to meth sale, distribution, use, possession, or behaviors while under the influence of meth
- Financial problems resulting from spending money on meth and neglecting financial obligations like paying bills and maintaining a job to earn money. Most meth addicts cannot maintain employment.
- Personal injury resulting from compulsive or aggressive behaviors while under the influence of meth
- Broken or lost relationships resulting from meth use and erratic behaviors caused by meth induced psychosis
One of the most disturbing things about meth is how it effects a user’s thought process and judgment. Because of its ability to literally induce psychosis, delusions, and paranoia, addicts can find themselves in bizarre situations resulting only from hallucinations brought on by the drug.
Like most stimulant drugs, including cocaine and crack, meth use typically occurs in a binge pattern, where an addict will use meth for days at a time, staying awake in a meth-fused high. After this binge, individuals tend to sleep for excessive periods of time during the crash. However, when they awaken, they are agitated, depressed, lack motivation, and immediately seek more meth to regain a sense of what they consider to be normalcy.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a powerful psycho-stimulant drug, which in its brand name, Desoxyn, is accepted for medical treatment of ADHD and obesity under careful supervision by the prescribing doctor, although it is rarely used. Prescription methamphetamine is almost always given in much lower doses and potency than what is available on the street, and refills are never accepted. The illicit form of meth sold on the streets is crystal methamphetamine, and usually appears as a blue-white crystalline form, or varying sizes of what appear to be shards of glass. Crystal meth is considered to be a purer form of methamphetamine, and what is referred to as “meth”, as well as other street names such as Tina, Ice, or Glass. Meth is typically smoked through a glass pipe, but it can also be injected, snorted, or eaten by addicts, and it is considered to be highly addictive. Coming from clandestine labs where cooks can use a variety of differing recipes, meth can be any of several different colors and shades, which may be the result of including dangerous and/or too many harmful ingredients in the process of cooking meth.
The meth addiction epidemic in the United States began in the Midwestern regions of the country, and as the Mexican drug cartels began to produce the drug in massive quantities, it spread to urban areas, where it has maintained a stronghold among many in the club and rave scene, as well as the homosexual population. One of the effect of meth is heightened sexual drive, which has lead to a massive increase in occurrences of unprotected sex and the spread of sexually transmitted disease.
Signs of Meth Addiction
There are several signs of meth addiction in any individual, especially one who does not have a naturally occurring serious mental health disorder, as many symptoms of meth use mimic those of major personality and mood disorders. Some signs of meth addiction are specific to meth, and others are more generally related to addiction, but all are viable signs of meth addiction, as shown in the following table:
|Signs of Addiction||Signs of Meth Use|
|Increased isolation from loved ones||Sudden and severe mood swings|
|Change in personal appearance and physical hygiene||Decaying teeth and gums|
|Change in friends and associates||Rapid weight loss|
|Unexplained financial troubles||Sores on face and skin from picking at meth bugs|
|Discovery of drug paraphernalia||Paranoia and delusions|
|Frequently appearing high or intoxicated||Dilated pupils and chemical smell on clothing or breath|
|Abrupt, frequent, and/or long absences with no reasonable explanation||Increased hostility or agitation|
|Engaging in strange and pointless behaviors||Obsessive engagement in an activity with an inability to stop (i.e. taking apart appliances and/or machinery, then trying to rebuild)|
|Legal problems such as DUI, possession charges, assault charges, etc.||Impulsive behaviors, easily excitable|
Help for Meth Addiction
If you, or someone you love is addicted to meth, please call us now to speak with a trained counselor who will work with you to overcome this delicate and urgent situation. Meth addiction can lead to long-term and permanent damage that can result in cognition, memory, motor function, and muscle control issues.
The subject of addiction treatment for meth is difficult because of all the drugs of addiction, meth has the highest relapse rate. However, no matter how helpless the situation may seem, addiction treatment professionals have seen rehab work for the most severe of meth addictions, and it is only a matter of choosing the rehab that is most conducive to the manner in which each individual addict needs to heal for him or herself. Call us now, and we will talk with you about the various modalities and methods of addiction treatment, and help you determine what will be the most effective, based on the needs, preferences, and belief systems of the addict. Meth addiction does not have to claim another life, or destroy another family. Treatment does work, and we can help you find the treatment that will work for you. Call now, and find the path to sobriety and recovery from addiction. We are here to help.