Common Signs & Symptoms of Meth Abuse

Understanding Meth Addiction

Learn About Meth

Known on the street as ice, chalk, crystal or meth, methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that is commonly found in the form of white to yellowish powder. Typically smoked, but also snorted, injected or swallowed as a pill, methamphetamine is a stimulant derived from amphetamine. Producing a high that is quick, due to the rapid crossing of the blood-brain barrier, the user’s brain releases a high level of the neurotransmitter dopamine into the body causing feelings of euphoria. Due to the rapid high that it causes and the fact that its effects can last up to twelve hours, those who use methamphetamine are susceptible to becoming addicted so as to keep the high going.

Statistics

Meth Statistics

It is estimated that 11 million Americans have tried methamphetamine. Moreover, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one percent of adolescents aged 13-17, in the United States have tried methamphetamine in the past year. In adults aged 18 and over, the percentage of users who have tried the drug is at almost six percent of the American population.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors of Meth

Several variables play into the reasons why a person would become addicted to methamphetamine. These variables include:

Genetic: Researchers believe that there is a strong genetic component at work that can determine a person’s susceptibility to developing an addiction to drugs.

Physical: Due to the release of dopamine in the brain, users of methamphetamine find the surge, or “rush,” of euphoria to be the appealing part of the high. However, because the user requires increased amounts of methamphetamine to mimic that high time and time again, addiction is likely. After repeated and long-term use of the drug, the dopamine receptors in the brain become damaged.

Environmental: Exposure to methamphetamine use can trigger a person to want to try the drug. Furthermore, for people who reside in an area where the drug is readily available, temptation can be even harder to resist. Lastly, and in conjunction with the exposure and availability of the drug, people coping with another mental illness could turn to methamphetamine use as a means of unconsciously masking the symptoms of an undiagnosed mental disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Access to methamphetamine
  • Undiagnosed mental illness
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Genetic predisposition to addiction
  • Present abuse of other drugs
  • Peer pressure

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Depending on whether a person is a short or long-term user of methamphetamine, the symptoms can manifest themselves differently. Symptoms can include all or some of the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Withdrawal or isolation from family/friends/work
  • Erratic spurts of hyperactivity
  • Persistent talking
  • Lying
  • Unprompted physical aggression
  • Stealing
  • Engaging in unsafe sexual behaviors
  • Other risky behaviors

Physical symptoms:

  • Severe dental issues (meth mouth)
  • Rapid weight loss due to decreased appetite
  • Development of skin sores as a result of scratching
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Facial and body tics
  • Excessive sweating
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Damage to heart and lung function

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Poor decision-making
  • Confusion
  • Mood disturbances
  • Damage to brain functioning
  • Irritability
  • Loss of memory

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Manic episodes
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Trepidation
  • Decreased interest in pleasurable activities

Lasting Effects

Effects of Meth

For someone struggling with methamphetamine addiction, every aspect of his or her life can be affected by the use. It is never too early to seek treatment for meth abuse. All or some of the following effects are possible for someone addicted to methamphetamine:

  • Permanent damage to brain functioning
  • Destruction of personal and professional relationships
  • Loss of employment
  • Homelessness
  • Financial ruin
  • Weakened immune system
  • Drastic changes to personal appearance

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders

Effects of withdrawal: Like the withdrawal from other highly addictive drugs, methamphetamine withdrawal can be painful to addicts. Users may not notice that they are going through withdrawal until one to three months after their last use. Once this realization hits, the intense cravings could lead to thoughts of suicide due to their intensity. Symptoms of withdrawal could present themselves in the form of the following:

  • Powerful cravings for the drug
  • Tremors
  • Extreme tiredness and desire for sleep
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Paranoia

Effects of overdose: Hazardous and possibly fatal, methamphetamine overdose is a possible and unfortunate side effect of methamphetamine addiction. Below are the possible outcomes of methamphetamine overdose:

  • Multiple vital organ failure
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Stroke
  • Death

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Methamphetamine addicts often suffer from other mental illnesses. These can include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Abuse or dependence to other substances

I used to smoke meth to feel more energized. However, it was causing significant harm to my body and to my social network. I sought out help at Seven Hills, who provided comprehensive treatment. I am now 4 years sober thanks to the staff at Seven Hills!

– Daniel W.