Understanding Methamphetamine Use, Abuse, Addiction & Recovery

woman in recovery for meth  addiction

Getting Counseling for Meth Addiction Restores Lives

Facts About Methamphetamine

  • Users usually call methamphetamine “meth”
  • Meth is a highly addictive neurotoxic drug that acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system.
  • Meth has been called “the most dangerous drug on earth” because of its availability and highly addictive nature
  • Methamphetamine comes in two forms, “crystal meth” (clear, also known as “ice”) and “powdered meth”
  • Prescriptions for methamphetamine are available legally under the brand name Desoxyn (Used to treat narcolepsy, ADHD and similar disorders.)

Both crystal meth (created illegally) and legal amphetamines (sold in pill form) have basically the same effect on the user when they get high. Methamphetamine increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. This leads to high levels of the “pleasure effect” aka “high” in the brain. Many users experience feeling powerful or euphoric when they use meth.

The high from meth can last 8 hours or more. Crystal meth and powdered meth (known as “crank”) can be:

  • smoked
  • snorted
  • injected
  • dissolved in a drink
  • eaten (ie pills, otherwise almost never ingested orally)

No matter how it’s ingested – meth is a powerful drug that is highly addictive in nature.

Methamphetamine is Also Called

  • Ice
  • Crystal
  • Crystal meth
  • Tweak
  • Gak
  • Speed
  • Tina
  • “Stay Awake”
  • Crank

Symptoms/Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse

Not everyone will experience the same symptoms when on methamphetamine. Both meth and crystal meth give users a false sense of well-being and euphoria that lasts for at least eight hours.

Many meth users describe the feeling of being high on meth as “powerful”. While on methamphetamine, users may talk very quickly, or act overconfident. They may seem have dilated pupils. Physically, they may sweat a lot or involuntarily grind their teeth while they’re high. They may also exhibit other facial tics.

A person on methamphetamine may stay awake for days at a time. Because of this, one symptom of meth use is losing weight rapidly. When a person is high on meth, they may focus on t ask they’re doing in an obsessive manner. For a variety of reasons, abuse of meth leads to tooth decay (and often, tooth loss).

Dangers of Long-Term Methamphetamine Use

A person who has used meth for a long period of time may look sickly or thin. Many methamphetamine users are malnutritioned and sometimes forget to eat. They may stay out or up for days at a time on a binge. Because of their increasingly erratic behavior, their jobs and relationships may suffer. They may participate in risky behaviors.

Some meth users have serious mental health issues as a result of their long-term use. They get anxious often, or have trouble concentrating. Some meth users can suffer from hallucinations and paranoia. One common example of this is the sensation of bugs crawling under their skin. Users who feel this way pick at their skin incessantly.

Many long-term methamphetamine users have mood swings that vary wildly, from to deep depression. Some of them experience suicidal and sometimes even homicidal thoughts. These symptoms are likely to manifest themselves after days of binging on the drug.

Crystal meth can cause severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This can that cause health issues such as inflammation around the heart. Meth users are also vulnerable to skin problems such as inflammation and infections such as staph and MSRA. As mentioned, rotted teeth are commonly found in the mouths of meth abusers. For some shocking physical examples of the effects that meth can have on someone, visit the Faces of Meth Website.

Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Dependency/Addiction

Chronic meth users may often lose track of time due to their binging behavior. Their family relationships and friendships will suffer. They may forget about important occasions or avoid family altogether. They may seem to have financial problems all the time, or trouble holding a job for very long. Often they will try to borrow money from friends and family.

A person addicted to meth may exhibit increasing drug-seeking behavior. They will “do what it takes” to get ahold of the drug. They may get arrested or have other legal issues.

Personality-wise, a person addicted to meth may suffer many negative consequences from their behavior. They may act paranoid or anxious. When they cannot get ahold of the meth, they may act agitated and distracted.

Many methamphetamine users lose weight rapidly. They may look especially gaunt around their face. Long-term users often will have a skin breakout that looks similar to acne. They may absentmindedly pick at the blemishes.

A person who can’t stop using methamphetamine, despite negative consequences is dependent on the drug. Long-term users of meth may have to use the drug to “feel normal.” Meth users usually experience withdrawal from the drug, which can be frightening as well as emotionally challenging. Many chronic methamphetamine users describe suicidal feelings, anxiety attacks, and other painful emotions and thoughts during withdrawal.

Methamphetamine addicted individuals may have a variety of mood disturbances due to their drug use. Many users experience dangerous mental health issues such as paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. Sometimes, these symptoms can last for months or years after a person quits using.

Tooth decay is another common symptom of crystal meth addiction. Long-term users experience severe calcium and vitamin deficiencies. They also often grind their teeth, causing damage to their teeth and sometimes jaw.

Users who are addicted to meth may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and severe mood swings. Because of this, addiction professionals recommend that chronic meth users detox from the drug in a professional setting.

How to Get Help for a Methamphetamine Problem

If you think you have a problem with methamphetamine, you’ll want to reach out to a caring professional to help you develop a plan for recovery that’s right for you. Many people who have used methamphetamine and other addictive drugs have reclaimed their lives and find hope in recovery.

If you’re not sure about your options or want more information about a treatment program that might work for you, please give us a call. It’s 100% confidential and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.