In 2021, about 2.5 million people reported abusing methamphetamine. Methamphetamine (meth) is an extremely powerful, highly addictive stimulant that can significantly impair a person’s quality of life and general well-being. Unfortunately, because of the highly addictive nature of the drug, many users become hooked and dependent on the drug and display various negative signs of meth abuse. In this article, you’ll learn more about the different methamphetamine signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect a loved one of yours may be abusing meth.
If you suspect and notice your loved one is showing meth abuse symptoms, it’s essential you help and support that individual to seek professional treatment to best overcome their addiction. At Calusa Recovery, we offer addiction treatment in Florida to help addicts overcome their addiction and maintain a long-term life of sobriety. Our drug and alcohol treatment and mental health treatment programs offer custom care and support so you can safely and effectively overcome your addiction for good.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact us today to learn more about how we can help you on your addiction recovery journey.
What is Meth?
Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It can be made in the form of pills, powders, or crystals (i.e., crystal meth) and can be swallowed, inhaled, smoked, or injected, depending on the form of the drug. Meth is abused to achieve an intense “high” or a desired euphoric feeling that makes the abuser feel full of energy. Unfortunately, meth can cause many psychological and physiological side effects, such as rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, blurred vision, dizziness, and more.
Unfortunately, this “high” comes with a hefty price – severe physical and psychological consequences for those who abuse it. The misuse of methamphetamine has become a growing public health concern worldwide due to its high rates of addiction and potential harm to individuals and communities.
Prevalence of Methamphetamine Abuse
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 1.6 million people over the age of 12 reported using methamphetamine in 2019 alone. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that around 27 million people used amphetamines worldwide in 2018.
While these numbers may seem alarming, they only reflect self-reported abuse; it is suspected that many more are struggling with this addiction but are not seeking help or treatment.
What is Methamphetamine?: A brief overview of the drug, how it works, and what makes it so addictive.
Methamphetamine, also known as meth, speed, or crystal, is a highly addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. It is a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and limited medical use.
Chemically, methamphetamine is similar to amphetamine but has a much stronger effect on the brain. It works by increasing the levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for pleasurable feelings and controlling movement and emotion.
The effects of methamphetamine can be felt immediately after use and can last anywhere from four to 12 hours. Users experience an intense rush of euphoria followed by increased energy and alertness. Some describe it as a feeling of invincibility or superhuman strength.
This rush of pleasure is what makes meth so addictive. With repeated use, the brain becomes dependent on this surge of feel-good chemicals and craves more to achieve the same level of pleasure. As tolerance builds up over time, users need larger amounts of meth to maintain these effects, leading to addiction.
Another factor that contributes to its addictive nature is how quickly it enters the bloodstream when smoked or injected. This route of administration delivers an almost immediate peak high but also increases the risk of overdose compared to other methods such as snorting or swallowing pills.
Furthermore, meth has long-lasting effects on the body and can cause various physical and psychological consequences with continued use.
Common Signs of Meth Abuse
There are several mood, behavioral, and physical symptoms of meth use. If you suspect your friend or family member is abusing meth, here are some common signs of meth abuse to look out for.
- Racing thoughts
- Intense mood swings
- Participating in riskier behavior than usual
- Stealing money to fuel their addiction
- Noticeable weight loss
- Disorganized lifestyle
- Being paranoid
- Memory Loss
- Noticeable sense of confusion
If you notice your loved one showing any of the above meth abuse signs, a great way to help them is by supporting them to seek professional treatment to overcome their addiction. Meth addiction can be extremely debilitating and even life-threatening; therefore, a drug rehab facility will help them receive the safe and effective care essential so they can live a healthier life of sobriety.
Physical signs of meth abuse
One of the most visible signs of meth abuse is changes in physical appearance. Meth use affects the body in many ways, and these changes can be an indication of addiction. Some of the physical signs of meth abuse include:
1. Rapid Weight Loss
Meth is a powerful appetite suppressant, and chronic users often experience significant weight loss. This weight loss can be sudden and dramatic, leading to a gaunt appearance.
2. Skin Sores
Meth abuse can cause intense itching and a sensation of bugs crawling under the skin, resulting in users scratching and picking at their skin. This behavior can lead to open sores and lesions that can become infected.
3. Dental Problems
Meth abuse can cause severe dental issues, commonly known as “meth mouth.” The drug can dry out the mouth, leading to a lack of saliva that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Behavioral signs of meth abuse
In addition to physical signs, there are also behavioral changes that can be an indication of meth abuse. These signs can be more challenging to detect, as they may be subtle. Some of the behavioral signs of meth abuse include:
1. Increased Aggression
Meth can cause users to become agitated and aggressive. This behavior can manifest as verbal or physical outbursts, making it challenging to interact with those who are using the drug.
Meth abuse can cause users to become extremely paranoid, leading them to believe that someone is watching them or out to get them. This paranoia can lead to irrational behavior and social isolation.
3. Changes in Sleep Patterns
Meth abuse can cause users to stay awake for extended periods, leading to erratic sleep patterns. This behavior can cause users to be awake for days at a time, leading to exhaustion and fatigue.
Psychological signs of meth abuse
Meth abuse can also have significant effects on the mental health of users. These psychological changes can be challenging to detect, as they may be internalized. Some of the psychological signs of meth abuse include:
Meth abuse can cause users to experience intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness. These feelings can be long-lasting and debilitating, leading to a lack of interest in daily activities.
Meth abuse can cause users to experience intense feelings of anxiety and panic. These feelings can be overwhelming and may lead to avoidance of social situations.
Meth abuse can cause users to experience psychosis, a severe mental disorder characterized by a loss of touch with reality. This condition can lead to hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.
Long-term effects of meth abuse
The long-term effects of meth abuse can be severe and life-changing. Chronic use of the drug can cause irreversible damage to the body and mind. Some of the long-term effects of meth abuse include:
1. Brain Damage
Meth abuse can cause significant damage to the brain, leading to cognitive impairment and memory loss. This damage can be long-lasting and may affect users for the rest of their lives.
2. Heart Disease
Meth abuse can cause significant damage to the heart, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Chronic use of the drug can cause irreversible damage to the cardiovascular system.
3. Liver and Kidney Damage
Meth abuse can cause damage to the liver and kidneys, leading to chronic health problems. These organs are essential to the body’s overall health and can be irreparably damaged by meth abuse.
How to Help Someone Showing Meth Abuse Signs
So, if you notice your friend or family member showing signs of meth abuse, now what?
It’s important to understand that you are not solely responsible for helping them become sober. That being said, there are steps you can take to help your loved one get the professional care and support essential to safely and effectively overcome their addiction.
First, before having a conversation, do some research on their addiction as well as research treatment centers you can recommend to them during your conversation that can help in their recovery journey. Then, set a specific time and quiet place to discuss with your loved one that you’ve noticed some changes in their life due to their meth abuse. Rather than blaming them, use a judgment-free tone and listen to your loved one. Finally, address your worry about their addiction and that you will always be there to support them, and address different addiction treatment centers that they should consider to help them get clean.
Treatment options for meth addiction
Treatment for meth addiction can be challenging, but it is possible. There are several treatment options available, including:
1. Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment involves staying in a facility for a period of time to receive intensive therapy and medical care. This type of treatment is recommended for individuals with severe addiction or co-occurring mental health disorders.
2. Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient treatment involves attending therapy and treatment sessions while living at home. This type of treatment is recommended for individuals with less severe addiction or who have completed inpatient treatment.
3. Medication-Assisted Treatment
Medication-assisted treatment involves the use of medication to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This type of treatment is often used in conjunction with therapy and counseling.
Support resources for individuals affected by meth abuse
There are several support resources available for individuals affected by meth abuse, including:
1. Narcotics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous is a support group for individuals recovering from addiction to drugs, including meth. This group provides a supportive community and resources for staying sober.
2. Addiction Specialists
Addiction specialists can provide therapy and counseling for individuals struggling with meth addiction. These professionals can help develop a treatment plan and provide ongoing support.
3. Family and Friends
Family and friends can provide support and encouragement for individuals struggling with meth addiction. They can also help with finding resources and treatment options.
Leading Addiction Treatment In Florida
Watching your friend or family struggle with addiction can be difficult, especially if they are displaying common meth abuse symptoms and signs. However, you should never feel like you are solely responsible for helping them become sober. Countless addiction treatment centers across the nation offer comprehensive care to help addicts safely overcome addiction.
Calusa Recovery is a meth rehab center in Fort Myers, offering addiction treatment options to help clients reach and maintain life-long sobriety. We help clients overcome addiction and grow their mind, body, and spirit to live happier, healthier life free from the chains of addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, help is available. Contact us today to learn more about how you can overcome addiction for good.