METHAMPHETAMINE

Methamphetamine Facts to Better Understand Crystal Meth Abuse

Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerful stimulant that can cause a wide range of negative effects on the user. From deteriorating physical health to increased exposure to infectious disease, the health risks associated with meth abuse are severe.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a methamphetamine addiction, it is vital that you learn more about meth’s devastating short- and long-term consequences. The sooner a meth addiction is recognized and treated, the more likely the user will be able to return to a normal life while avoiding the permanent side effects of their addiction.

What Is Meth?

Average Age New Meth Users Statistic - Reflections Recovery CenterMeth is a synthetic stimulant, derived from ephedrine, which affects the central nervous system. The chemical was originally used as a possible treatment for obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, methamphetamine’s high potential for misuse and risk of neurotoxicity has relegated the drug to almost entirely illegal recreational use.

When ingested, methamphetamine rapidly increases the presence of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is critical to the brain’s motivation and reward centers. By flooding the brain with dopamine, meth induces a state of euphoria that encourages meth users to continue abusing the substance.

Because methamphetamine is rarely used for medicinal or research purposes, the chemical is produced almost exclusively in illegal drug labs. By isolating the ephedrine found in over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, dealers are able to produce methamphetamine in both rock and powder forms.

Short-Term Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse

The immediate effects of meth use include increased wakefulness, attention and physical activity. However, the drug also comes with a long list of negative side effects.

Regardless of whether the substance is snorted, injected or swallowed, the following short-term effects are characteristic of methamphetamine abuse:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Convulsions
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure

Long-Term Consequences

Meth Hospital Admissions Maricopa County Arizona Statistic - Reflections RecoveryMeth disrupts the brain’s reward center, flooding it with dopamine and interfering with its ability to function normally. Continued abuse will build up a tolerance, requiring the user to increase their normal dosage of meth to achieve the same results.

Eventually, the user’s body will not be able to function properly without the presence of methamphetamine and the individual will begin to experience intense withdrawal symptoms whenever the chemical begins to leave their body.

Additionally, long-term meth addiction can lead to devastating long-term consequences including:

  • Uncontrolled weight loss
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Skin sores
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS
  • Increased risk of contracting hepatitis
  • Reduced motor speed and verbal learning
  • Mental confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Behavioral/mood problems
  • Violent behaviors
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Broken ties with friends, family members, and spouses
  • Loss of job, career, and financial problems
  • Legal trouble

FAQs for Crystal Meth Addiction Help

Learn more about the causes, effects and prevalence of meth and crystal meth abuse by perusing our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this drug:

What Are the Signs of Crystal Meth Addiction?

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant, and crystal meth creates some of the most potent effects. After smoking or injecting crystal meth, users experience a wide range of symptoms that others should easily notice.

Primarily, crystal meth produces a euphoria that can lead to psychosis-like symptoms. After taking a dose of meth, a user may appear:

  • Frantic
  • Ecstatic
  • Completely energized
  • Aggressive, even violent

After continued use, these symptoms become progressively more destructive. In the long term, crystal meth can cause:

  • Tooth decay and dental infections
  • Significant weight loss
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Seizures
  • Serious (potentially permanent) brain damage

See the list of “Long-Term Consequences” above for even more signs to look for.

What Are Some Common Causes of Meth Addiction?

Unfortunately, experimentation with methamphetamine can quickly lead to addiction. The first dose of crystal meth will cause a flash of intense euphoria as a rush of dopamine, the brain’s “pleasure” neurotransmitter, floods the user’s system.

However, this same reaction actually erodes dopamine receptors in the brain. With subsequent uses, the individual will feel less-intense euphoria due to this erosion, so he or she will likely ingest increasingly larger doses to make up this difference, creating an addiction.

Besides the chemical reactions the drug itself elicits, other common causes or risk factors of meth addiction include:

  • Genetic predisposition to addiction
  • Eating disorders
  • Mood disorders, such as depression
  • Experience(s) of traumatic life events
  • Lethargy or low energy
  • Other substance abuse

What Are the Risks of Mixing Meth and Alcohol?

Combining alcohol with most drugs is a very risky choice, and this is especially true when it comes to methamphetamine. Meth use can effectively mask the symptoms of alcohol use, and the user may not appear as intoxicated as he or she actually is. However, both of these substances are incredibly toxic to the human body, particularly when it comes to cardiac health.

Consuming meth and alcohol concurrently has some common symptoms to watch for, including:

  • Coordination and speech problems
  • Memory and cognition issues
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Faster heart and breathing rates

Repeated meth and alcohol use can also lead to more serious conditions, such as

  • Tooth decay
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • High blood pressure
  • Violent behaviors
  • Brain damage
  • Psychosis
  • Liver and pancreas issues
  • Several types of cancers
  • Sudden death

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Meth?

The severity and length of methamphetamine withdrawal depends on a number of factors, including the dose normally taken and how long a person has been taking the drug. A person’s individual physiology, level of dependence and other environmental factors can also affect the timeline. But, in general, there are two major phases of meth withdrawal:

Phase 1 Meth Withdrawal

The first few days after stopping meth are referred to as phase one, or “the crash.” During this time, the individual will likely experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Excess hunger
  • Depression

Phase 2 Meth Withdrawal

After the initial “crash” phase, the difficult “cravings” phase may last for 10 weeks after stopping meth. Former meth users will have intense cravings, and may struggle to remain clean.

Cravings may continue longer than 10 weeks, but are likely to be more sporadic or subside, and will be easier to overcome, after that point

What Are the Common Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?

Crystal meth is a “binge and crash” drug, meaning that users typically binge to experience the intense high they’ve come to expect, and then quickly “crash” until they can secure another dose. Withdrawal symptoms will vary based on how long a person has used meth, how much they typically consume per day, how they stopped using meth, how they usually ingest it, and various individual differences.

Some of the most common symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include:

  • Restlessness, jitters or feelings of anxiety
  • Depression and suicidal ideation
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings, aggression and irritability
  • Lack of energy and decreased sexual motivation
  • Increased appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Intense cravings for meth

Eventually, all withdrawal symptoms will fade, but recovering addicts must still contend with the long-term effects methamphetamine has on the brain.

Over time, the post-acute withdrawal symptoms of methamphetamine abuse will manifest, and these generally include:

  • Bouts of depression and anxiety
  • Low motivation
  • Occasional meth cravings

At this point, a recovering meth user will also need to address any serious dental damage caused by prolonged meth use.

How Prevalent Is Crystal Meth Addiction in Arizona?

The southwestern states of the U.S. have experienced the greatest damage from widespread methamphetamine abuse in recent years. As of 2013, Arizona reported that methamphetamine was the leading cause of substance abuse treatment cases in Maricopa County.

About 15 percent of all hospital admissions for methamphetamine use (or misuse) in 2015 involved users under the age of 25, while 44 percent involved patients aged 40 or older. That same year, just under 5 percent of Arizona high school students reported some methamphetamine use in their lifetime.

Methamphetamine is relatively easy to produce in large quantities, highly addictive, and therefore reasonably profitable. Meth labs pop up all over Arizona, and some drug manufacturers go so far as to create mobile meth labs in RVs, campers and trailers. This makes cracking down on methamphetamine trafficking in Arizona very difficult.

What to Expect at a Crystal Meth Rehab Center

Arizona High School Students Use Methamphetamine Statistic - Reflections RecoveryIndividuals struggling with methamphetamine addiction face major obstacles if they plan on quitting without assistance. That is because the intense withdrawal symptoms associated with meth are potentially fatal without the assistance of a medical professional. Likewise, the intense discomfort associated with meth withdrawal makes it nearly impossible for even the most strong-willed individuals to successfully quit on their own.

Inpatient treatment facilities that specialize in meth detox provide a safe, structured environment where individuals can work through their substance abuse problems. A combination of clinical and behavioral therapies are essential for supporting the body’s natural healing process as it recovers from the damage done by methamphetamine. Life skills and emotion-management strategies learned during inpatient treatment are also critical for providing individuals with the tools they need for long-term recovery.

At Reflections Recovery Center in Prescott, Arizona, we approach drug addiction recovery for men from multiple angles. Combining clinical treatment and holistic therapy allows us to treat the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of each client’s addiction.

Our goal is to help those struggling with meth addiction to rebuild their lives, heal their bodies and restore their relationships with family and friends. Our admissions representatives can be reached by phone at 866-790-7979 if you have more questions about meth addiction and treatment.

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