Methamphetamine is also known as meth, speed, ice, blue, crystal, and goes by many other terms. This substance is potent and addictive. It creates a similar high as cocaine, but it lasts for much longer. It takes the shape of a white, bitter-tasting, odorless crystalline powder that can easily be dissolved in alcohol or water. It can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. Methamphetamines can increase talkativeness, activity, decrease appetite, and can produce a sense of well-being and euphoria that can instantly hook people to it.
Because meth is so cheap, easy to make, and readily available, many treatment centers are overwhelmed with individuals who have become addicted to the increased energy levels and feelings of invincibility that the drug produces. Because of the many positive feelings produced by methamphetamine use, clinical intervention is often the first step in meth addiction treatment and recovery.
The Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Use
Methamphetamines can take a large physical and psychological toll on the body and the rest of one’s life. Some view it as one of the most dangerous drugs on the market. Several warning signs, symptoms, and consequences accompany the use of methamphetamines.
- Loss of interest in life: Like most addictions, an individual struggling with substance abuse loses interest in other areas of their life that were once important to them. This includes their work, career goals, relationships, hobbies, and health; all take a back seat to get and using meth. When one first starts to use meth, they may try to hide it, but the longer they use it, the more active a role it takes in their life. Meth changes how one feels and thinks and can change from a recreational drug to one’s major life priority in a short amount of time.
- Behavioral and Physical Symptoms: There many physical and behavioral symptoms that accompany meth use, including hyperactivity, paranoia, twitching, jerky movements, facial ticks, dilated pupils, rapid eye movement, skin sores, sudden and noticeable weight loss, extreme weight loss, reduced appetite, burns particularly on the fingers and lips, rotting teeth, erratic sleep patterns, agitation, mood swings, and outbursts,
- “Tweaking”: Tweaking is a long period of time, usually 3-15 days of anxiety and insomnia. This often occurs when the person can no longer achieve a high or rush any longer at the end of a drug binge. The extended use of the drug has depleted the body. Tweaking can have psychological consequences, including irritability, confusion, paranoia, and a desperate need to use again. Those in this phase of their drug addiction are prone to violent behavior and may experience paranoia and hallucinations.
- The Crash: This phase of methamphetamine use is when someone is deprived of the dopamine the meth was previously supplying, which causes extreme exhaustion. A crash can last from 1-3 days and is characterized by extended periods of sleep, depression, and intense drug cravings.
- Long Term Consequences: Long-term abuse of methamphetamines can result in several negative consequences on top of the devastating effects of addiction. There are changes in brain structure and function that impact memory, motor skills and create deficits in ones thinking. One’s overall brain health and physical and mental health will deteriorate, resulting in mood disorders, psychosis, and aggressive and violent behavior—severe dental problems along with damage to one’s internal organs. Methamphetamine use is also linked to an increased chance of getting hepatitis, HIV/AID, Parkinson’s, and other related disorders and diseases.