What are the Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Addiction?

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Over a million and a half people over the age of 12 in the U.S. have tried methamphetamine at least once in the last year. A further half a million of those people struggle with a full-blown methamphetamine addiction.

Initially, methamphetamine was used during WWII so soldiers could stay awake and focused during intense, days-long battles. Unfortunately, people were not fully aware of the science of addiction or how it worked. Some soldiers returned home with an addiction to meth. In the middle part of the 20th century, doctors would prescribe meth for things like obesity and weight loss, or to treat narcolepsy.

Today, safer amphetamine medications are used to treat these issues and ADD and ADHD in adults and children. Methamphetamine is still infrequently prescribed for obesity and ADD under the pharmaceutical name Desoxyn. But what most people think about when they hear the word, “meth,” is the illegal street drug, crystal meth.

What is crystal meth?

Crystal meth looks like small crystals or ice shards, and it can be white, brown, or blue in appearance. Methamphetamine is typically a powder substance. People will use crystal meth because it can be smoked and give users a quicker high. Many toxic and corrosive chemicals are used to produce and manufacture both forms of methamphetamine.

A high from meth is incredibly intense but short-lived. Usually, a methamphetamine high will peak in intensity within five minutes of smoking the substance. An extreme meth high will last for about a half hour before subsiding. However, users will experience lingering side effects for several hours after last use. To prolong the high in crystal meth, users will continuously take the drug, sometimes for days at a time before crashing. Crashing from meth is distressing and painful, and users will retake the drug to avoid unpleasant and distressing withdrawal and detox symptoms.

What are the effects of using methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine will give the user an intense euphoria, or high. The high from meth also dramatically increases a person’s energy, focus, and alertness. They may engage in risk-taking behaviors, become more sociable, and fearless. Methamphetamine also severely curtails appetite and can lead to severe and sudden weight loss.

Who is most at-risk of using methamphetamine?

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 are the highest risk of using and abusing meth. The desire to experiment is usually associated with meth use in this age group. Young men are more likely to use the drug than women, with people who live in the Western U.S. most at-risk. Also, Native Americans are more than four times as likely to use meth than other demographic groups. Meth users also typically belong to lower socioeconomic groups, use other drugs, and that male users are more likely than non-users to have a father in prison.

What are the signs and symptoms that someone is using methamphetamine?

Drug addiction severely impacts the way a person behaves and thinks. People who use meth will typically smoke the drug, so evidence of pipes and other paraphernalia is an indicator of drug use. Users who smoke the drug may also have burn marks on their lips or a persistent cough. Snorting meth can also lead to a persistent stuffy or runny nose. People struggling with an active addiction will also have trouble holding down a job, going to school, or upholding other responsibilities. Also, meth addiction can increase a person’s risk-taking behavior. Run-ins with law enforcement are common with methamphetamine addiction. Other signs of meth addiction include:

  • Sudden, rapid weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Changes in personality
  • Increased, unexplained alertness and aggressive behavior
  • Agitation and excitability
  • Obsessive focus
  • Distracted behavior
  • Risk-taking
  • Clumsiness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nervousness and fidgeting
  • A drastic change in appearance

Also, meth is an incredibly toxic substance that can cause a range of physical health issues and changes in a person’s appearance. Meth users will also obsessively pick at their skin when they start to come down off a meth high. Unexplained sores that are slow to heal and dental issues are also indicative of methamphetamine addiction. Few drugs can drastically change a person’s appearance as quickly and as drastically as methamphetamine.

What can someone do if they notice the signs of meth addiction in a loved one?

Methamphetamine abuse can lead to permanent disfigurement and health issues. It’s critical that people who are addicted to the drug get help from trained therapists and drug abuse counselors quickly. Treating a meth addiction sooner can also reverse some of the health issues and signs of aging that are present in severe methamphetamine addiction.

For those who suspect that a loved one is abusing meth, it’s important to mentally and emotionally prepare for the confrontation. Coming from a place of anger and blame is understandable, but not productive for getting the person the help they need. Also, starting the conversation knowing how and where a person can go for help can get them into a facility quickly, as soon as they agree to treatment.

Concerned friends and family can benefit from reaching out to a drug abuse counselor, rehab facility, and an intervention specialist before approaching their loved one. Drug abuse counselors can offer guidance and emotional support for loved ones before they approach a loved one.

Contacting a rehab facility before asking a loved one to attend can give families a clear path for getting their loved one admitted. Knowing the answers to insurance questions and other details for how rehab works and what the availability is like can ease some anxieties. Lastly, an intervention specialist can offer family tips and advice on how to approach an addicted loved one for a successful outcome. It’s possible to have an intervention specialist guide the meeting and speak directly to the addicted family member.

If you are concerned that a loved one is abusing meth, please reach out to Mission Harbor Behavioral Health today. Representatives are standing by to answer your questions about rehab, intervention, insurance, and availability.

The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.

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