Signs Someone Is Addicted To Meth

Signs Someone Is Addicted To Meth

KEY POINTS:

  • The main signs that someone is addicted to meth include: skink irritations, ‘tweaking’, hallucinations, paranoia, drastic weight loss, prolonged wakefulness, eye changes, behavioural changes, and dental deterioration.
  • What happens to the teeth of someone who heavily uses meth is often referred to as “Meth Mouth”
  • Please reach out to us to explore treatment options. We are here and prepared to assist you in your journey to recovery from meth addiction.

8 Signs And Symptoms That Someone Is Addicted To Meth

Worrying about a friend, spouse, or family member potentially using crystal meth can bring a mix of fear and uncertainty. It’s a challenging situation, and it’s natural to feel a range of emotions as you grapple with these concerns. 

Methamphetamine, often referred to as meth, is a potent central nervous system stimulant with a high risk of addiction. 

It’s a problem that’s more common than many realize. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that in 2021, approximately 101,000 individuals aged 12 or older started using meth, and 1.6 million were dealing with a methamphetamine use disorder.1

Recognizing the signs of meth use is a critical step in helping someone you care about. This is not just about confronting a difficult reality; it’s about understanding and being equipped to offer support effectively. 

Early detection can significantly influence the journey to recovery, and knowing what to look for is a vital part of this process.

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth, is a powerful stimulant that is closely monitored and regulated due to its high potential for abuse and dependency. 

Meth is often produced and distributed illegally, appearing in various forms. It can be found as a powder, in shiny glass-like shards, or as white crystalline rocks, commonly referred to as crystal meth. 

Its chemical roots lie in amphetamine, another stimulant drug that has some medical uses, such as in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

How Do People Take Meth?

Meth can be found in various forms and used in several ways:2

  1. The standard form of meth may appear as a pill or a white powder.
  2. Crystal meth, often resembling clear or whitish rock shards, is also referred to as “glass” or “ice” because of its appearance.

The methods of consuming meth vary based on its form:

  • Meth pills are typically taken orally.
  • Crystal meth is usually smoked using a glass pipe, with the smoke being inhaled through the mouth.

The powdered form of meth offers more diverse methods of use, including:

  • Snorting, where the dry powder is inhaled through the nose, often using a straw.
  • Injection, where the powder is dissolved in a liquid and then injected into the bloodstream.
  • Boofing, or booty-bumping, involves dissolving the powder and then administering it into the rectum using a syringe without a needle.

Is Meth Addictive?

Meth is highly addictive due to its impact on brain chemistry. It significantly enhances the activity of various neurotransmitters, notably dopamine, which is vital in motivating and reinforcing rewarding behaviours.

The rapid release of large amounts of dopamine into the brain’s reward centers strongly encourages the continuation of drug use.

Moreover, users who smoke or inject meth experience a rapid onset of euphoria, which dissipates quickly, often before the drug has fully entered the bloodstream. This leads to a pattern of use known as “binge-and-crash,” where users repeatedly consume more meth in an attempt to sustain the high. 

In extreme cases, this can lead to extended periods of continuous use, commonly referred to as a “run,” during which individuals may neglect basic needs like sleep and food while persistently using meth for several days at a time.

8 Signs And Symptoms Of Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine addiction often manifests in a range of physical and behavioural signs, which can be key indicators of its use. Here’s a breakdown of some common signs:3,4

#1. Skin Irritations and Sores

Users of methamphetamine might exhibit noticeable skin issues, such as sores or lesions, particularly on the face, arms, and neck. These sores often arise from compulsive skin picking, a common side effect of meth use, leading to red, irritated bumps.

#2. Tweaking

‘Tweaking’ is a term used to describe the state following a meth binge. Users in this phase often experience severe agitation due to their inability to achieve the initial high. Symptoms include feeling as if bugs are crawling under the skin, insomnia for extended periods, heightened frustration and paranoia, self-injurious behaviours, intense meth cravings, delusional thinking, and erratic actions.

#3. Hallucinations and Paranoia

Meth users may exhibit signs of paranoia and hallucinations. They might seem overly suspicious or convinced of being watched or harmed. Hallucinations, both auditory and visual, are common, and prolonged experiences of these can lead to meth-induced psychosis, a state compounded by neurological impairment and lack of sleep.

#4. Drastic Weight Loss

As a potent appetite suppressant, meth can lead to significant weight loss. Users often show signs of malnourishment due to reduced food intake and the body’s heightened metabolic state.

#5. Prolonged Wakefulness

Meth, being a strong stimulant, can keep users awake for days. Following this period of prolonged wakefulness, users often ‘crash,’ sleeping excessively for days, sometimes up to three days straight. This crash phase can also mark the onset of withdrawal symptoms.

#6. Eye Changes

Under meth’s influence, users often exhibit dilated pupils and rapid eye movements. The stimulant’s effects on vision can make focusing difficult, leading to these noticeable eye movements.

#7. Behavioural Changes

Methamphetamine use can drastically alter behaviour. Signs include excessive chattiness, aggressive or violent behaviour, sudden mood swings or manic episodes, anxiety, engagement in risky or illegal activities, repetitive or obsessive behaviours, confusion, and psychosis.

#8. Dental Deterioration (Meth Mouth)

Meth can severely impact dental health. Users might grind their teeth and neglect oral hygiene. The toxic substances in meth contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, leading to what is commonly known as “meth mouth,” characterized by severe dental erosion, tooth loss, and gum damage.

How To Help Your Loved One?

When your loved one acknowledges their meth use and admits they’re unsure how to quit, the next steps are crucial.

Firstly, understand that the journey to quit meth is not something you can manage single-handedly. However, you play a vital role in guiding them toward appropriate resources and providing ongoing support as they navigate the path to recovery.

Meth addiction treatment at Centres for Health and Healing

Recognizing the unique challenges of meth addiction, we create a personalized recovery plan for every client, taking into account their specific needs, treatment objectives, and preferences.

Our approach is strategic and holistic, combining various therapeutic techniques. Our staff, armed with decades of expertise, offers the knowledge and experience necessary to provide an effective treatment environment. We equip our clients with the resources and tools essential for successful recovery from meth addiction.

Recovery from meth addiction is an ongoing process of establishing healthy habits, learning to avoid triggers, and maintaining mental wellness.

To support this journey, we include a thorough aftercare plan, ensuring that our clients continue to receive support even after leaving our center.

Recognizing the issue and seeking professional help is the crucial first step towards a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life free from meth addiction.

Please reach out to us to explore treatment options. We are here and prepared to assist you in your journey to recovery.

References:

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022, December). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, May). Methamphetamine drug facts.
  3. Yasaei R, Saadabadi A. Methamphetamine. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535356/
  4. Pabst, A., Castillo-Duque, J. C., Mayer, A., Klinghuber, M., & Werkmeister, R. (2017). Meth Mouth-A Growing Epidemic in Dentistry?. Dentistry journal, 5(4), 29. https://doi.org/10.3390/dj5040029
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