Crystal Meth Abuse
If you’re someone who watches the news, even semi-regularly, you’ll likely have seen reports on the widespread crystal meth abuse. Crystal meth is arguably the most addictive and one of the most dangerous illicit drugs there is for a number of reasons.
Although many begin crystal meth abuse as a party drug due to its stimulating properties that balance out the effects of intoxication from alcohol, the consumption of crystal meth quickly spirals out of control due to the drug’s highly addictive nature. In fact, according to a survey in 2012, over a million Americans reported crystal meth abuse sometime in the previous year with almost half a million of those individuals having used crystal meth in the past month.
Small Town’s Big Problem
While other narcotic drugs like heroin and cocaine are more concentrated in urban areas, crystal meth abuse seems to be mostly concentrated in rural areas and then subsequently spills over into the suburban and urban communities. Being such a dangerous, addictive substance, it’s important for individuals to become educated on some of the most common signs of crystal meth abuse.
What is Crystal Meth?
Crystal methamphetamine—more often called crystal meth or just meth for short—is a neurotoxic recreational drug that acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system and is known for having extremely high potential for abuse and addiction.
In terms of the damage to the body, crystal meth abuse has a detrimental effect on the serotonin and dopamine receptors in the central nervous system. It causes a reduction in gray matter in the brain, and other adverse changes in brain functionality and its structure. Users of crystal meth quickly become addicted to the distinct high that the drug provides, which consists of particular euphoria, aphrodisia, alertness, self-confidence, sociability, a sense of grandiosity, and obsessive or repetitive behaviors.
Where Does it Come From?
Perhaps even more distinct than the high it provides is the way in which meth can devastate a community with its production. Making crystal meth, referred to as “cooking,” requires an individual to have a rather elaborate home chemistry lab in which a variety of volatile, toxic chemicals are used including lye, lithium, and ammonia.
It’s not uncommon for accidents to frequently occur during the production of meth in these rudimentary makeshift labs. With explosions being quite common, resulting in severe injury or even death, meth labs are ticking time-bombs.
In the illicit form seen on the street, crystal meth is between a clear to a blue-white color and comes in the form of glass or crystal-like shards, which has given it nicknames such as “glass” and “ice.” Although smoking crystal meth is one of the most popular routes of administration, it can also be insufflated (snorted), injected, and even eaten.
Signs and Symptoms of Crystal Meth Use
When an individual engages in crystal meth abuse, the parts of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure are flooded with dopamine, causing the user to feel energetic, confident, and euphoric. It’s this rush of dopamine that makes crystal meth so dangerously addictive.
Unfortunately, as individuals lose themselves to meth addiction, they will often display many signs that are indicative of their crystal meth abuse. One such sign of crystal meth addiction is the change in appearance and personal grooming habits. Meth addicts will usually appear disheveled, even dirty and unbathed, wearing clothes that are unclean or don’t match with messy hair and looking like they haven’t slept in days, which is usually the case.
It’s also common for meth users to pick and scratch at their skin, which will often cause them to have numerous sores all over their body, especially the arms and face. Occasionally these individuals will pick at acne that appears due to the decrease in personal hygiene, the drug’s toxins clogging pores, and meth’s causing restricted blood flow.
However, another reason for the picking is due to the common hallucination that bugs are crawling over or under the skin, which is caused by the consumption of crystal meth and makes individuals obsessively pick at their skin. Additionally, since meth decreases and constricts blood flow, these wounds tend to take much longer to heal than they should.
Like cocaine and other stimulants, the use of crystal meth diminishes appetite, and since meth users will often binge for days or even weeks on end during which they won’t eat or sleep, this leads to dramatic changes in appearance such as looking emaciated and malnourished.
Individuals who are using crystal meth tend to seem very energetic and overly animated with exaggerated movements and gestures. It’s also common for their movements to appear jerky or twitchy, especially their facial expressions and movements.
Crystal meth abuse commonly causes severe paranoia as well as auditory and visual hallucinations, which can manifest a variety of bizarre and even frightening behavior in the individuals who are addicted to crystal meth.
As a result of the hallucinations, meth addicts will display such psychotic behaviors as abrupt angry outbursts and unpredictable, unprovoked mood swings, and a dramatically different personality.
These individuals will frequently have withdrawn from activities that they used to find pleasurable or fun and from interpersonal relationships that used to be important. As their meth abuse spirals, the further into isolation they tend to sink.
There’s also usually a marked decline in attendance and performance at work or school due to being preoccupied both mentally and physically with seeking and using crystal meth. When dealing with a crystal meth addiction, the ability to perform even menial tasks becomes an impossible hurdle.
Other Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse
Over time, crystal meth abuse can cause a variety of unpleasant, dangerous effects. Some of these effects are social or circumstantial such as manifesting lying and dishonest behavior, increasing risky sexual behavior, and withdrawing from interpersonal relationships.
However, there are also many effects on health as a result of meth use, which includes cardiac arrhythmia, moderate to severe hypertension, hyperthermia, severe dehydration, severe insomnia, and so on.
Meth addiction can cost individuals jobs, can bring about financial ruin, exposes individuals to the risk of sexually transmitted and other types of diseases, can lead to a number of legal troubles due to crimes committed to sustaining a meth habit, and can even bring on psychosis.
Even though addiction to meth is one of the most difficult addiction to treat, it’s still possible for meth addicts to rehabilitate and return to a life of sobriety. Since withdrawal from meth can last much longer than many other drugs—sometimes even several months—an inpatient program is the most effective form of treatment for addiction to crystal meth since it includes a detox period during which the individual is supervised by professionals.
If you or someone you love is addicted to crystal meth, please contact us at Drug Treatment Center Finder so we can put you or your loved one on the path to recovery with an effective inpatient addiction treatment or intensive outpatient addiction treatment program.
855-619-8070 – call today!