The Ins and Outs of a Meth Addiction

Meth addiction rates all across America are soaring, along with opioid addiction rates. Meth has a devastating effect on America's healthcare system, as fatal overdoses involving meth doubled from 2010 to 2014.

Nowadays, a lot of the meth in America is being smuggled in from the borders. This is due to the fact that the DEA is cracking down on meth labs within the country. To illustrate just how big the meth industry is, millions of pounds of meth are being smuggled in by cars and other means on a daily basis.

What is Meth?

Meth, otherwise known as methamphetamine, is a potent central nervous system stimulant.

It is mainly used as a recreational drug although it has also been used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies it as a schedule II controlled substance.

This drug combines a 50-50 mixture of levomethamphetamine and dextromethamphetamine. Both are strong stimulants, and will have a strong effect on the brain. By itself, levomethamphetamine is available over-the-counter as an inhalant used to treat nasal congestions.

Meth is an incredibly addictive drug. It's possible for people to get addicted to meth from just one use. This is probably why meth addiction rates have started to soar in America. It is probably one of the most addictive drugs out there, and one of the hardest addictions to kick.

Common Street Names of Meth

Methamphetamine is the correct scientific name of the drug. It is often shortened to meth. On the street, this drug has many nicknames. Different regions and areas have their own special name for it.

When dealing with meth, it’s nice to know other nicknames it has. Some street names are only popular in certain states or cities. Common street names for methamphetamine include:

  • Crank
  • Crystal
  • Crystal meth
  • D-meth
  • Fire
  • Glass
  • Ice
  • Shabu
  • Skunk
  • Smoke
  • Speed
  • Tina

If you suspect that a family member, like a son or a daughter, is addicted to methamphetamines, look for these keywords on their phone or online correspondences. It's important to make sure that you are not an enabler.

There are several administration methods for abusing meth. The most common way to abuse meth is to smoke it using glass pipes. This is similar to the method used to smoke crack cocaine.

When smoking meth, it's not unusual for meth addicts to accidentally burn themselves. Some will even develop skin conditions that are specific to the hands.

Crystal meth can also be injected. People who inject crystal meth are more susceptible to blood-borne diseases, like Hepatitis C and HIV, because they often share needles. If the needles come in contact with infected blood, the disease can be easily spread from person to person.

Those who choose to abuse meth by smoking or injecting it will experience a more intense high. The meth high can last up to 12 hours. This is quite a long time in comparison to many other illicit street drugs.

The half-life of methamphetamine is about 12 hours. This means that it takes anywhere from 2 to 4 days for the drug to be completely cleared from the body. The narcotic is still detectable in urine 72 hours after the last use.

Most people will not test for meth via a blood test. This is because meth is usually cleared from plasma within 6 hours. Hair tests can also look for meth use. In fact, it can give a chronological assessment of the amount of meth that was used at certain time periods. Most hair tests will detect meth use for up to 90 days.

Symptoms of a Crystal Meth Addiction

Although meth is highly addictive, it is rare for users to get addicted to meth after one use. Frequency is usually the key to addictions. Those who have used meth more frequently are more likely to get addicted to the narcotic. 

Those who are open to trying meth once are usually more open to trying it again due to the intense high produced. This means that they will likely use the drug again, and have a greater risk of getting addicted to the substance. 

There's a fine line between occasional drug use and addiction. If you're on the fence in regards to whether you or someone you know has a meth addiction, take our addiction quiz. The questions in the quiz may give you a better idea on the topic.

Symptoms of an addiction are quite similar for all types of drugs. Those who are addicted to meth may:

  • Be unable to stop using meth even if they wanted to, mostly due to the withdrawal symptoms
  • Change their group of friends entirely to be with others who abuse meth
  • Continue to use meth even after facing legal, financial or social repercussions
  • Experience a loss of appetite
  • Experience intense cravings whenever they try to quit
  • Feel more attentive, talkative, awake and energetic
  • Find themselves obsessing over the narcotic
  • Isolate themselves from family and friends to smoke or inject meth
  • Lose control over the frequency and amount of meth that they ingest on a regular basis
  • Perform poorly at home, at work and at school due to their meth use
  • Use increasingly larger doses of meth to achieve the same high

Those who have abused meth for a longer period of time will have more difficulties quitting. This is because their body has not only built tolerance, but also dependence on the narcotic. Without meth in their system, drug addicts may feel as if they are not able to function.

Methamphetamine Side Effects

Methamphetamine use is undoubtedly going to cause some unwanted side effects. After all, this is one of the most potent drugs out there, and one of the most abused substances in many states.

Meth Recovery

Some of the most common side effects of methamphetamine abuse include:

  • Brain damage that results in symptoms that mimic Parkinson's disease
  • Coma
  • Damage to brain cells, especially to serotonin and dopamine receptors
  • Damage to the heart, lungs and other vital organs
  • Dehydration
  • Extreme paranoia and anxiety
  • Financial ruin
  • Frequent infections
  • Hallucinations
  • Job loss
  • HIV or Hepatitis C from shared needles
  • Legal repercussions
  • Loss of or strained interpersonal relationships
  • Meth mouth
  • Profound confusion
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Severe malnutrition
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Skin sores from formication
  • Total psychosis
  • Violent behaviors

In worst-case scenarios, damage from abusing meth can result in death. This is because the drug can damage and shut down all the vital organs in your body. It's one of the most toxic drugs out there, and can do a substantial amount of damage to the human body.

It's also important to note that methamphetamine purchased illegally is never completely pure. This means that it usually contains a lot of cutting agents and harmful toxins that can also do irreparable damage to your body. For example, it’s not unusual to find cutting agents, like fentanyl, in crystal meth. These cutting agents may increase the risk of an overdose.

How Crystal Meth Affects Your Skin

One of the most obvious side effects of methamphetamine use is perhaps the damage that it does to your skin. It's very easy to identify long-term and chronic meth users from their outward appearance.

In fact, meth use is the poster child for drug use and addiction because its effects are so obvious. You can easily see how damaging meth is to your skin with these before and after pictures.

Meth use can result in formication and dermatillomania. This means that meth users will often feel as if there are bugs underneath their skin. This causes them to pick at their skin with various tools and with their fingernails.

This results in open wounds and sores. It opens up the risk of infections and scarring. Unfortunately, meth suppresses the immune system, so it takes even longer for people who are addicted to meth to heal.

Abusing meth will also show in the condition and quality of the skin. More often than not, meth use will result in premature aging. Meth addicts often have wrinkly and leather-like skin in comparison to other people of the same age.

More often than not, the damage to the skin is permanent. Even if it heals, the effects of meth use will be quite apparent for some time. It can be easy to determine who has once abused meth by the condition of their skin.

Bodily Damages Caused by Methamphetamine

Meth use does not only affect the skin. It can also have a profound negative impact on the rest of the body, especially other organs.

In particular, meth abuse can also cause tooth loss or tooth decay. This is known as meth mouth. Long-term use of the narcotic can also deplete the body of essential nutrients. This can result in hair breakage and hair loss.

Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms of methamphetamine can be difficult to bear. The symptoms can also be rather persistent, which is what often causes relapses. 

In most cases, withdrawal symptoms will kick in anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after last use. The symptoms will usually peak by the 4th or 7th day. These symptoms can last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks although they can last for months in some extreme cases. 

Common withdrawal symptoms associated with meth use include:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion, sleepiness and fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Hunger
  • Intense cravings
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Panic and paranoia
  • Suicidal thoughts 

When dealing with meth withdrawal symptoms, it's important to keep in mind that the symptoms won't last forever. Those who are able to persist and persevere will win the war against addiction at the end.

Dealing with a Relapse

It's not unusual for meth withdrawal symptoms to cause users to relapse. Understanding the basics behind relapses can help many users avoid them. 

Studies have shown that many users will relapse within 4 weeks of stopping meth use. Those who relapse often do so because they felt depressed or bored without the drug. Many couldn't bear with persistent meth withdrawal symptoms, and others felt pressured by their peers. Those who are struggling with getting sober can avoid relapsing by:

  • Avoiding triggers, like certain environments or people
  • Becoming self-aware to their own situation and letting their feelings of anxiety pass
  • Reaching out for support to family members and friends
  • Using distraction techniques

While a meth addiction is treatable, those who are addicted are going to have a long journey ahead of them. It’s important to have a strong support group, and to know how to deal with triggers that may cause relapses. Many meth users may have to try quitting more than once before they are successful. Perseverance is key to breaking free from of a meth addiction.

Addiction Treatment for Methamphetamine

When quitting methamphetamine, it's a wise idea to seek help from a recovery center, like AspenRidge Recovery. We have the resources necessary to tailor the addiction treatment plan to your needs.

An addiction treatment plan should consist of several components. Most people who abuse meth will want to quit cold turkey. There are no substitute medications for meth as there is for heroin and other opioids. In short, opioid replacement therapy will not work in these situations.

This doesn't necessarily mean that you won't have any other course of action. Medical professionals and staff provide around-the-clock care and supervision. They may even administer certain medications that might help with reducing the intensity of certain withdrawal symptoms.

Common medications that are often used to treat methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Antidepressants for those who are feeling depressed or having difficulties sleeping
  • Antipsychotics for those who are experiencing psychosis and hallucinations
  • Benzodiazepines for those who are feeling anxious and paranoid

The dosage and frequency of which these medications will be administered will differ from patient to patient. It is up to the doctors to determine what may work best for each patient. 

There are also medications that can help with curbing the intensity of the cravings. Some of these medications include bupropion, mirtazapine, dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate. These medications may make withdrawing from meth a less taxing experience.

Live a Healthier Life by Getting Sober

A meth addiction can do a substantial amount of harm to your body. It's vital that you take action as soon as possible to help yourself get sober.

There are plenty of different addiction treatments available that deal specifically with meth use. With the proper support and resources, you can break free from the grasps of a meth addiction and live a sober life. There's nothing better than getting sober. You'll feel healthier and be able to concentrate on living life to its fullest.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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