Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a potent central nervous system stimulant that has a high potential for misuse, leading to serious physical and psychological dependence. Knowing its signs and symptoms is necessary to find treatment options for yourself or a loved one.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine, a Schedule II substance, is a derivative of amphetamine, a stimulant substance used in pharmaceutical treatments for conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. However, meth is often illicitly manufactured and widely available on the streets in powdered form, sometimes as shiny glass fragments or as whitish crystalline rocks (crystal meth).
Meth can be consumed in various ways: it can be ingested orally, snorted, smoked, or injected. Since it can be consumed differently, the addiction usually progresses to different consumption methods. Its immediate effects result in a euphoric “rush” and intense, pleasurable feelings lasting from a few minutes to several hours. This high is due to the drug’s ability to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.
The Rise of Meth Addiction
Meth addiction is not uncommon. In 2021, 2.5 million Americans aged 12 or older reported using meth. That same year, 1.6 million individuals aged 12 or older had a diagnosable methamphetamine use disorder. The statistical trend indicates a concerning rise in the prevalence of meth addiction. Additionally, 32,537 people died from an overdose involving a stimulant other than cocaine (primarily meth).
Recognizing the Signs of Meth Addiction
Identifying the signs of meth addiction is crucial for intervention. Below are the common behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms of meth addiction:
- Social withdrawal
- Erratic behavior
- Lying or stealing
- Poor performance at work
- Ownership of drug paraphernalia
- Failure to keep up with responsibilities
- Aggressive outbursts
- Poor personal hygiene
- Weight loss
- Tooth decay
- Muscle spasms
- Skin problems such as acne, sores, track marks, or puncture wounds
- Erratic sleep patterns
- Sexual dysfunction
- Memory loss
- Confusion and disorientation
- Loss of good judgment and reasoning ability
- Poor self-esteem
- Extreme emotional fluctuations
The Dangers of Meth Addiction
The consequences of meth addiction can be dire, leading to numerous physical and psychological problems. These may include:
- Chronic systemic and pulmonary hypertension
- Increased risk of aortic dissection and myocardial infarction
- Skin abscesses and damaged blood vessels (from injection use)
- Severe dental problems such as gum disease and tooth decay
- Increased risk of contracting certain bloodborne diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis B and C
- Potential association with Parkinson’s disease
Meth Overdose: A Serious Risk
Meth overdose is a fatal risk faced by individuals struggling with meth addiction. Overdose can occur when too much meth is consumed or combined with other substances. Overdose can lead to cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack.
Withdrawal Symptoms from Meth
Withdrawal symptoms are a common occurrence among individuals who attempt to stop using meth. These symptoms, which can surface within 2 to 4 days after the individual stops or drastically reduces meth use, may include:
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Extreme sleepiness or insomnia
- Intense dreams or nightmares
- Mood swings
- Anhedonia (loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities)
- Severe craving for the drug
- Weight gain and hunger
Meth Addiction Treatment: There Is Hope
Despite the grip of meth addiction, recovery is possible with the right help. A comprehensive treatment plan often involves more than one type of treatment on the continuum of care:
- Drug detox
- Inpatient or residential treatment
- Partial hospitalization program
- Outpatient treatment
Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Your Ally in Recovery
Meth addiction is a serious problem with potentially deadly consequences. However, with the right support and treatment, recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, reach out to a professional treatment center like the Lighthouse Recovery Institute. Don’t let addiction dictate your life; take the first step towards a healthier, happier future today.