What are the Signs and Treatment Methods for Crystal Meth Abuse?

Crystal Meth Abuse: Signs and Treatment

Crystal meth is an extremely toxic and addictive amphetamine. The drug was developed in 1919 in Japan and was used during WWII by both the Allies and Axis powers to keep their troops awake during intense fighting. Until the 1970s, the drug was legal in the U.S. It was prescribed for weight loss and depression until it became more potent and its abuse spread.

Now, the drug is illegal for most purposes. Doctors may prescribe it for extreme cases of obesity or to treat ADHD. But street meth is a potent substance that can be snorted or injected. There are three levels of abuse and most people who start out abusing meth use it to stay awake for tests, exams, or intense jobs. They may even try meth to curb their appetite and lose weight. Unfortunately, methamphetamine use can quickly spiral out of control. It is incredibly deadly and can leave its users with permanent disabilities and disfigurement.

Is there a difference between meth and crystal meth?

Methamphetamine and crystal meth are the same drug. However, crystal meth is a distilled version of the drug and is more potent than methamphetamine. Methamphetamine comes in a pill, or powder form and is snorted, or dissolved in water and injected for a quick and intense high. Crystal meth looks like shards of glass and is often referred to as “ice.” This form of the drug is smoked and gives users an incredibly intense high.

Smoking the drug also comes with dangerous side effects. Crystal meth is highly corrosive and toxic to the gums, teeth, and skin. Users’ teeth often decay and fall out, or they experience other dental and periodontal diseases which can be irreversible.

While methamphetamine and crystal meth have similar effects as cocaine, they are much cheaper than cocaine and the highs they give last for up to 12 hours. A cocaine high typically only lasts a half hour. Cocaine abusers may turn to methamphetamine as a cheaper way to get high.

How many people abuse crystal meth?

In the U.S., 13 million people over the age of 13 have used meth at least once in their lives. Currently, there are around half a million regular abusers of methamphetamine. About 9% of all people who enter drug rehab are there for crystal meth abuse. Some areas of the country also report higher rates of methamphetamine abuse and addiction than others. For example, drug abuse facilities in Hawaii indicate that 47% of patients are there for meth addiction. The problem is even more pronounced in some European countries, with up to 60% of drug rehab patients in the Czech Republic seeking help for methamphetamine abuse.

What are the different levels of methamphetamine abuse?

There are three levels of methamphetamine abuse. Rarely does anyone start at level three. Usually, people try the drug to curb their appetite or stay awake, and the abuse quickly gets out of control.

  • Low-intensity meth abuse is when a person snorts or swallows the drug infrequently and at low doses for a specific reason. They may need to stay awake to study for an exam or have to pull a double-shift at work.
  • Binge-meth abuse happens when a person begins injecting or smoking the drug to get a more intense high. If they do not take meth, they begin to experience withdrawals.
  • High-intensity meth abuse occurs when a person is focused on avoiding a “crash” which is what happens once the meth high wears off. A crash is accompanied by painful and distressing withdrawal symptoms and an intense craving to use the drug. Users will continuously smoke or inject meth to avoid the crash.

What are the consequences of meth abuse?

Crystal meth is an incredibly toxic and potent drug. Illegal batches of meth are often mixed with corrosive chemicals like rat poison and industrial cleaners. When a person smokes or injects the drug, they are also ingesting those chemicals. Drug abusers can experience collapsed veins, infections, and also risk contracting HIV or another bloodborne disease. Smoking crystal meth destroys a person’s teeth and gums, and they can lose their teeth or experience painful abscesses in their mouths. Methamphetamine is also extremely hard on a person’s cardiovascular system.

Abusing crystal meth can also lead to anxiety issues and sleep problems. High-intensity meth users will forget to eat while high because the drug is an appetite suppressant. They can drastically lose weight and also experience nutritional deficiencies.

Long-term meth abuse is also associated with paranoia and delusions. In addition, methamphetamine also gives people the feeling that bugs are crawling on or underneath their skin. They may even feel itchy and will pick and scratch at their skin, which can leave scars and also increase the risk of infection.

What are the signs of meth abuse?

  • Sudden, drastic weight loss
  • Staying awake at odd hours
  • Paranoia
  • Picking and scratching at the skin
  • Missing work, school, and important events
  • Increased levels of energy and high alertness
  • Pinprick pupils
  • Track marks
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • A haggard, worn appearance
  • Skin lesions and scabs
  • Evidence of meth use, including pipes for smoking, needles, or tourniquets

What can be done to treat crystal meth addiction?

People with a meth addiction often need to stay in detox and medical facility for several months. Methamphetamine abusers usually enter treatment with severe nutritional deficiencies, and they may also be sick from not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in their diet. It’s also a risk that they may have contracted a blood-borne illness while using. People in treatment for methamphetamine will need integrated care from a team of doctors, including:

  • Trained drug abuse and treatment therapists
  • Counselors
  • Doctors
  • Nutrition specialists
  • Social workers

Detoxing from meth is also associated with delusions and paranoia. A person who is coming down off meth will need supervision from medical doctors and may also need to take safe, legal mediations to help them with withdrawal. After they have detoxed, they will need to stay in a treatment facility and undergo therapy and rehab to avoid a relapse.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with meth addiction, there is help. Please contact the caring and experienced drug abuse counselors at Mission Harbor Behavioral Health today to explore your options for addiction treatment.

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