Signs Of Meth Use
Methamphetamine is an illegal stimulant drug that has ravaged communities for the last few decades. It’s more commonly referred to by its street names that include speed, ice, meth, crystal, and Tina. Meth use is an all-encompassing and powerful addiction that can affect every aspect of a person’s life, which has led to it being commonly referred to as the “most dangerous drug on earth.”
One factor that has led to its widespread availability and use is its relative ease of production using chemicals that aren’t particularly difficult to get. People create methamphetamine in illegal drug labs by combining various forms of amphetamine with caustic substances such as hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, brake fluid, butane, and ammonia. This creates noxious gasses that can be potentially fatal. Because of this, secret meth labs cause many deaths and serious injuries in the United States every year.
These illicit labs create meth with varying degrees of purity and potency. In its purest form, meth will look like rocks or shards and is commonly referred to as “crystal” meth. In less pure forms, meth is sold in the form of white powder that can be “cut,” or mixed with inert substances and other stimulants.
The methods of ingestion will vary depending on the type of meth and the degree of addiction. Meth is a versatile drug that can be ingested in any number of ways, including swallowed in a capsule, smoked in a glass pipe, injected intravenously, and snorted through the nostrils.
Because of the all-encompassing nature of methamphetamine addiction, many people need to seek treatment at specialized meth rehab centers for meth. Luckily, you’re not alone, and Serenity Lane is here to help you or a loved one overcome their meth addiction. This article will outline the different signs and behaviors to look for when trying to determine whether a loved one is suffering from meth addiction.
Effects of Meth Use
As mentioned above, meth use can affect every aspect of a person’s life. It’s also a very long-acting stimulant drug that can last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours from a single dose. Compare this to other stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, which only last about 30 minutes after a single dose. Because of the long duration of its effects, users often binge on meth, staying awake for days at a time.
The first time a person uses methamphetamine, they will most likely not experience any of the negative effects associated with meth addiction. This user will feel very active and intensely euphoric and talkative for 6 to 12 hours. The reasons behind these feelings are far more sinister as meth begins to hijack the brain’s natural reward systems.
When you do something that inspires joy or satisfaction, it is marked by a chemical response in the brain. The chemical dopamine is responsible for feelings of reward, motivation, memory, attention, and even the regulation of body movements. Dopamine plays a very important role in the natural ebb and flow of your brain chemistry, and low levels of dopamine may have negative effects on a person’s mood.
Methamphetamine hijacks the brain’s natural reward system by forcing it to create dopamine at a highly unnatural rate. Like many other stimulant drugs, meth forces the release of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, leading to a number of extremely intense euphoric effects, increases in energy, and feelings of invulnerability.
This onslaught of dopamine is so intense that no natural experience can compare to the first time a person uses meth. This leads to a phenomenon known as “chasing the dragon” in which a person may continue to use more regularly and in higher doses in an attempt to capture the high of that first time. In reality, what’s occurring is the strengthening of meth addiction in the wiring of the brain.
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Meth Use
Meth earned its moniker of “the most dangerous drug on earth” due to the extreme physical and psychological toll it can take on those who use it. Pair the extreme changes to brain chemistry with the insomnia it causes and you have a recipe for behavioral and physical disaster. Because meth side effects can deeply affect both the body and the brain, it can take its toll in a variety of very apparent ways.
One of the first things you will notice in a person using meth is the sudden disinterest in things that were once very important to the person. Relationships, hobbies, careers, and other goals all take a back burner to using meth. This is due to the way meth affects the brain chemistry of the people who use it. It’s very common for people that consume drugs of any kind to attempt to hide their drug use initially, but eventually, the signs of meth use become so pervasive they’re impossible to keep hidden. Because of the profound effect that meth can have on people who use it, what was once a recreational drug can quickly turn into a major motivating factor in a person’s life.
The different warning signs for meth use can be split into two categories: physical and behavioral. While the physical symptoms may be more outwardly apparent, over time, the behavioral symptoms can be just as obvious.
Some of the physical warning signs and symptoms of methamphetamine addiction may include:
Rapid Weight Loss
One of the profound and noticeable effects of meth addiction is the sudden and rapid loss of weight. As the drug wreaks havoc on the chemistry of the brain, it shuts down the part of the brain responsible for telling a person when their body needs nutrients, and hunger ceases to be a priority.
A person deep in the throes of meth use may go days on end without eating, leading to the unhealthy shedding of pounds. This effect can turn a once healthy and vibrant person into a gaunt, pale husk of the person they were prior to starting meth use.
Methamphetamine falls under a classification of drugs known as stimulants. As with all stimulant drugs, the use of meth renders a person completely unable to sleep. By assaulting the brain with stimulation, perpetual meth use causes a person to go days on end without sleeping. Sleep deprivation eventually leads to very negative consequences such as auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, and eventually full-blown psychosis.
After such a bender, the person will eventually experience what’s known as a “crash,” a period of sleeping for days on end while the body and brain attempt to recover from the trauma of meth use.
Dehydration and “Meth Mouth”
Meth use even assaults people who use it down to a cellular level, dehydrating the cells. Along with the actual dehydration of cells, a person on meth may simply forget to ingest water due to the intense array of other stimulations that are happening in the brain. This lack of hydration eventually leads to a phenomenon commonly referred to as “meth mouth”.
In the human mouth, saliva production acts as a natural cleansing system that washes away harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. When the body doesn’t have enough water, saliva production comes to a halt. This leaves harmful bacteria to fester and reproduce in the mouth, causing gum issues such as gingivitis as well as tooth rot and decay.
Elevated Body Temperature
Going hand-in-hand with the dehydration symptoms mentioned above, the intense stimulation of the body and brain caused by meth also causes an elevated body temperature. This leads to excessive sweating and red or flushed skin. An elevated body temperature can also lead to environmental risks such as hypothermia.
Infection, Skin Abscesses, and Burns
Anytime someone uses a drug intravenously, they run the risk of introducing infectious bacteria into their system. Along with this, someone deep in the throes of meth addiction typically doesn’t pay much attention to their personal cleanliness as they’re too inundated with other stimulation. Breaking the surface of the skin can allow harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. When an intravenous meth user misses injecting the drug into the vein and instead injects it directly into the skin, it kills the surrounding tissue, leading to infection and abscess.
When a person ingests meth by smoking it, it’s typically done with a butane torch and a glass pipe. Many meth users who smoke the drug will be marked with burns all over their lips and fingers from the torch and hot glass.
Formication or “Meth Mites”
Along with the abscesses and infections caused at injection sites, many meth users have scabs all over their bodies and faces. This is due to a phenomenon known medically as formication and known on the street as “meth mites.” This is the sensory hallucination of bugs crawling under the skin of meth users. This can lead to intense itching and scabbing on the skin. Because meth use constricts the blood vessels, these scabs may take a very long time to heal and are immediately apparent.
Some of the behavioral signs of methamphetamine use may include:
Constant Financial Issues
Because of the pervasive nature of methamphetamine use, its users will often spend every dollar they have on acquiring the drug. So while a person may work full time, they may constantly be in financial turmoil and debt. If a loved one is constantly asking to borrow money, or constantly in financial distress despite employment, that may be a warning sign.
When a person’s addiction progresses to the point where they’re no longer able to hold down employment, they may turn to crime in order to supply their habit.
Troubles with the Law
Another sign that someone may be in the stranglehold of meth addiction is constant issues with the law, especially if the person was an otherwise law-abiding citizen in the past. When meth use progresses from occasional recreational use to full-blown addiction, it can become an expensive habit very quickly.
The all-encompassing nature of meth addiction is such that it leads to increasingly risky behavior in order to obtain and use the drug. This can lead to any number of illicit activities including theft, burglary, and even prostitution.
Overt Changes in Behavior
Meth use causes drastic changes to the personalities of people that use it. In fact, this can be one of the main things that draw a person to use meth in the first place. Most people who use meth find it gives them a false sense of confidence, feelings of “invincibility,” and even leads to more outgoing behavior. Sudden bursts of energy or changes in personality can be signs of meth addiction.
Another negative personality change that meth use can be responsible for is inappropriate or risky sexual behavior. Meth use can cause an artificial boost to the libido, leading to the person behaving in a sexual manner that is socially unacceptable and even dangerous. This can lead to a whole host of other issues, including troubles with the law and sexually transmitted diseases.
Recovery Is Possible, and Serenity Lane Is Here for You
Meth addiction is difficult because it affects the user physically, emotionally, and psychologically. That said, recovery is possible at Serenity Lane.
The first step in helping you or a loved one kick their addiction to meth is the detox process. Meth withdrawal can be very unpleasant, but at Serenity Lane, we do everything within our power to make you feel safe and comfortable as meth leaves your system.
If you think someone you love is addicted to meth, encourage them to seek help as soon as possible by calling Serenity Lane at 541-262-0598
What are some signs of meth abuse?
Someone who is using meth may show physical signs that include dramatic weight loss, scabs and sores on the skin, burn marks on the fingers and lips, and a general haggard appearance. Behavioral signs may include constant trouble with the law, financial issues, inappropriate sexual behavior, paranoia, and sleep deprivation.
What are the signs and symptoms of meth abuse?
Meth addiction is pervasive and can affect all aspects of a person’s life. It may show itself in behavioral changes such as insomnia, troubles with the law, inappropriate sexual conduct, and financial issues. It also comes with a certain set of physical signs including a generally unkempt appearance, sudden weight loss, tooth decay, as well as various scabs and burns on the body.