Methamphetamine is a highly addictive synthetic stimulant drug. While methamphetamine use had been trending downward for several years, a recent resurgence has been reported since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, because the drug is primarily manufactured in Mexico, the seizures of meth along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2020 have doubled over the fiscal year 2019, according to border patrol agents.
Meth use is just one of several substances that are reportedly on the rise during the pandemic. People may seek substances to help them manage negative emotions, like stress, loneliness, fear, boredom, or anxiety. Unfortunately, using a substance to self-medicate can have profound adverse long-term effects. Continue reading to learn how to spot the signs of meth addiction.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine, also referred to as crystal meth, speed, meth, crystal, ice, and crank is an illicit synthetic stimulant. Meth is consumed in a variety of ways, including smoking the substance, in pill form, inhaling it, or injecting a liquefied form. The drug’s effects are felt and then fade quickly.
The effects of meth cause a powerful rush, where the individual feels highly confident, hyperactive, and energetic, often skipping sleep. Meth can also cause agitation, irritability, and aggressive behavior. When the drug wears off, the individual may experience lethargy, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, cravings, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
4 Meth Addiction Signs
A combination of signs and symptoms may alert you to the presence of a meth problem in yourself or a loved one:
- Physical Signs. Someone with a meth addiction will exhibit certain physical signs:
- Skin sores. Obsessive itching leads to open skin sores. The itching is caused by the mistaken belief that there are bugs crawling on the skin.
- Severe tooth decay. Tooth decay, known as “meth mouth”, is caused by excessive dry mouth along with ignoring dental hygiene. Jaw clenching, a symptom of meth use, can also contribute to dental problems.
- Droopy skin. The skin will take on a loose, droopy tone. It will also feature facial blemishes and a distinctive odor.
- Loss of appetite. Because of meth’s stimulant properties, a decreased appetite and weight loss may result.
- Behavioral Signs: Some of the behavior changes associated with meth use are:
- High-risk behaviors. Impulsive and erratic behaviors include promiscuous, unsafe sexual practices, driving under the influence, and illegal activities.
- Hyperactivity. Rapid speech, compulsive behaviors, nervousness, euphoria, increased sexual libido, rapid eye movements, and jerky motions.
- Psychological Signs: Some of the psychological signs of methamphetamine use are:
- Paranoia. Long-term meth use can lead to psychosis, including paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.
- Insomnia. Meth addicts can sometimes go days without sleep. They will begin to appear gaunt and be irritable due to lack of sleep.
- Mood swings. While under the influence of meth, the person may exhibit a manic mood state, but when they experience the meth comedown, they may seem depressed.
- Legal Problems. Meth use causes dysfunction, which can result in legal issues, such as:
- DUI. The individual is arrested for driving under the influence.
- Loss of child custody rights. Child neglect, abuse, or being unable to fulfill parenting obligations may lead to rescinded parental rights.
- Incarceration. The person may be charged with crimes, such as violent assault, domestic violence, or theft as a result of actions taken while under the influence.
Dangers of a Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine is composed of toxic chemicals, many of which are found in common household cleaners. When ingested, the drug can cause permanent brain damage, skin infections, severe dental decay, and paranoia, psychosis, and stroke. Long-term health effects include tooth loss, infected skin sores, psychosis, cognitive dysfunction, and an increased risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis.
Meth is about three times more potent as cocaine. Methamphetamine affects the brain by increasing the levels of dopamine. By rapidly increasing dopamine levels in the reward center of the brain, the brain imprints the experience as something positive to be repeated. However, with extended use of this dangerous drug, the brain’s natural dopamine receptors are destroyed, and the person becomes chemically dependent and addicted to the substance.
Rehabilitation through an evidence-based treatment program is the only proven path to recovery from a meth addiction. A comprehensive residential program offers the most effective treatment solution for once again enjoying a healthy quality of life.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.