Methamphetamine Addiction: Signs and Symptoms
Methamphetamine, or meth for short, is a highly addictive synthetic drug that acts as a central nervous system stimulant. Meth produces an extreme feeling of euphoria, increased energy and other psychoactive effects. One of the dangers of meth use is that it is often made with other potentially toxic substances, like antifreeze, which can have long term health repercussions including significant neurological effects. While meth is a highly addictive substance, there are many treatment options available and getting help is possible.
Amphetamine and Stimulant Use Disorder: What Does Meth Addiction Look Like?
Methamphetamine, also known as crystal, speed, zoom, crank, ice, or Tina, can be swallowed, injected, snorted or smoked. It produces feelings of euphoria that can lead to increased activity, hyper-vigilance, and talkativeness. This can last for 6 to 12 hours or longer, depending on how much someone uses and for how long.
Just as with other substances, meth can be “binged,” which in the short term can lead to prolonged periods of wakefulness, decreased appetite, faster breathing and irregular heartbeat.
Tweaking is a term that refers to the period during a binge, especially after a period of not sleeping, when someone experiences paranoia or severely distorted thinking, and possibly substance induced psychosis, which can be accompanied by hallucinations.
After long periods of use without sleeping, a crash from meth can involve a prolonged period of sleep. As with other substances, coming down after the euphoria of meth use can lead to increased use, including using for days at a time to avoid a crash.
How To Tell If Someone Has an Methamphetamine Addiction
If you’re wondering if a loved one has a methamphetamine addiction, you’re not alone. One of the most common symptoms of methamphetamine addiction is sudden loss of interest in all other activities. Other short term effects of meth include:
- Decreased appetite
- Increased sensitivity to noise
- Chronic fatigue
- Broken or decayed teeth
- Dilated pupils
- Decline in work or school performance
Dangers of Methamphetamine Addiction
Meth addiction affects practically every aspect of a person’s life, and can create long-term consequences. Effects on the brain can take over a year to repair. There is some research that indicates snorting or injecting meth may produce disruptive cognitive functioning. People can also develop ticks or tremors.
In addition, when someone experiences the huge dopamine surges produced by meth, they can develop anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure. Some long-term meth users report depression.
Meth also damages non-neural brain cells called microgolia. These defend our brain against infection and remove damaged neurons. People who regularly use meth typically have two times the amount of microglial cells as a normal brain. With too many microglia in the brain, they begin to attack the healthy neurons, causing measurable brain damage.
Quitting methamphetamine is extremely hard, especially if someone is trying to do it on their own. Seeking help from a professional or a treatment center can be safer and more effective. Depending on the duration and frequency of use, withdrawal symptoms can be different for each person and last from a few days to a few weeks.
Some of the most common methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms can include fatigue, depression, anxiety, or increased appetite. During methamphetamine withdrawal, medical care is often recommended to ensure a safe and smooth withdrawal process.
Who Becomes Addicted to Methamphetamines?
There are certain regions of the country where meth use is more common. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, meth addiction is more common in the Midwest, Southwest, and West Coast Regions of the United States. However, methamphetamine addiction does not discriminate and anybody can develop an addiction to it. According to the National Institute on Health, young adults aged 18 to 25 exhibit the highest rates of methamphetamine use nationally. Learn more about substance use disorder in different demographics:
Getting Sober & Rehab for Meth Addiction
Getting sober from meth addiction is possible. If you are struggling with meth yourself or are watching someone go through the devastating effects of addiction, treatment is available and has worked for many. Treatment shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach and options often require both medical and psychological treatment to ensure that individuals have developed new coping skills and reintegrate them into society without turning back to methamphetamine.
Recovery Resources for Meth Addiction
Getting sober and staying sober from meth addiction is a lifelong process. Along with rehab, therapy, and medication-assisted treatment, there are many who have found likeminded people in support groups helpful to help learn how to live life without alcohol.
Read Sober Stories from those who have overcome meth addiction.