Crystal Meth Addiction Symptoms and Warning Signs

Addiction to crystal meth can be dangerous and devastating for both you and your family if you abuse the drug. If you think you might be addicted to the substance, there are a number of signs to look out for. One of those is severe weight loss over a relatively short period of time, especially if you’ve been using meth frequently.

Other symptoms of addiction to this stimulant include extreme fluctuation in energy, erratic sleep patterns, hyperactivity, obsessive and borderline psychotic behaviour, decaying teeth, and dilated pupils. If you notice one or more of these signs, it’s important to seek help immediately.

Main Indicators of Crystal Meth Usage

It can be totally unexpected to find out that a family member or friend has started to use meth. It might take a while before you even notice. If you do suspect anything, look out for the main indicators of meth usage, such as loss of interest in normal activities, risky sexual behaviour, neglecting relationships, clumsiness, increased aggression, hyperactivity, erratic sleep pattern and twitching or small repetitive actions, like pulling hair.

Other indicators may be the presence of unusual items like needles or syringes, rolled up slips of paper, shards of broken mirror, burnt spoons, aluminium foil with scorch marks, as well as pipes.

Physical Symptoms

One of the most obvious physical symptoms of meth usage is what many refer to as ‘meth mouth’. This term alludes to the sometimes severe tooth decay that can occur when you use meth. It includes enamel erosion, cracked, lost and rotting teeth.

Acne and facial sores may also become a problem, because meth results in the constriction of blood vessels. When your blood vessels constrict, blood flow is limited and the body is unable to heal itself well, so sores being to appear. It may also be the case that sores occur when you pick at your skin. Of course, they don’t heal easily, due to the meth in your system.

Behavioural Symptoms

The behavioural effects of meth range from mild to intense, depending on how long you‘ve engaged in substance abuse. Some of the early behavioural symptoms include confusion, eating less, reduced sleep, violent behaviour and mood swings. In the long term, behavioural symptoms can include brain function disturbances and psychosis.

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Crystal Meth and Mental Health

Meth has been associated with mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and paranoia. When drug addiction co-occurs with mental illness, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis, which means both conditions have to be treated using separate treatment plans.

While you might already have an existing mental condition before you start taking the drug, meth is known to contribute to mental disorders such as sleep and anxiety disorders, psychosis, and schizophrenia.

How relationships are affected by Crystal Meth addiction

When you’re addicted to meth, your thought processes and behaviours change and by extension, the relationships you care about are also affected. For one, the stimulant can increase your sex drive and at the same time, lessen your inhibitions. When that happens, you might find yourself with more sexual partners than you plan to have and this can be damaging to the relationship with your partner, especially since you’ll be at a greater risk of contracting HIV.

There are many other effects of the stimulant that can cause a strain on your personal relationships and social circle. You may begin to have strange sleep patterns or become paranoid and more aggressive, amongst other problems that come with meth abuse.

Who Crystal Meth Addiction Affects

Crystal meth addiction affects not only the individual, but those around them too. Though your loved ones won’t experience the ‘high’ that comes with taking crystal meth, there are many ways in which it will impact their lives too.

Your family will be incredibly hurt if they ever find out you are lying or stealing from them to feed your drug addiction. Because they are the closest people to you, they’ll be the ones to suffer from any violent and psychotic behaviour, which are both side effects of the drug. There are countless ways to hurt loved ones with your addiction, so please, never let it get to that stage.

Crystal Meth Abuse Exposes One to the Following Risks

The risk of overdosing is real and can result in death if you are not careful. By abusing meth, you increase your risk of high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm and other heart problems, such as chest pain. There is always the possibility of suffering a sudden cardiac related death, acute aortic dissection or heart attack.

Confronting the Crystal Meth User

It’s never easy to watch your friend or relative drown themselves in the menace that is drug abuse and it can be nerve-wracking to confront them about it. You can never anticipate their reaction, or whether your efforts will yield any results, especially since addiction to meth in particular contributes to volatile behaviour.
If you are not successful after trying to confront a family member about their addiction, it is best you bring in an intervention counsellor to help.

Crystal Meth and Other Drugs

It’s not uncommon for meth to be used alongside other drugs. However, this is one of the most dangerous ways to use meth. ‘Polydrug’ use involving meth and one or two other hard substances results in a range of unsafe behaviours and often presents a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Some of the most common meth combinations are with marijuana, GHB, amyl nitrate, cocaine, and MDMA. If you have been engaged in poly-usage, we advise that you stop now and seek help immediately.

Treatment, Withdrawal and Next Steps

The first stage of treatment for meth addiction is detoxification, which is the process of letting every last trace of the drug drain from your system. Detoxification brings about withdrawal symptoms, which reflect your body protesting to the absence of the substance.

The withdrawal process can be excruciating, but medications to manage the symptoms can help when administered by medical personnel in a treatment facility. After withdrawal, you will commence therapy to help prepare you physically and psychologically for the long journey to recovery.

Quitting Crystal Meth with Professional Help and the Road Ahead

It’s not advised that you try to quit meth on your own, because addiction to the substance is typically difficult to treat. It’s best to seek professional help and get through the detox phase, in a detox clinic or treatment facility where your symptoms can be managed and any complications controlled. With the therapy that follows thereafter, you’ll have a good start to the rest of your recovery journey.

Before Rehab

Before you check into the rehab programme, be sure you have the required permission to be absent from work. You’ll also need to sort out any domestic affairs if you have children, elderly parents, or pets to look after.
Also, try to take care of yourself physically and prepare mentally as well, as this is a journey you’re not going to quit at any point. Most importantly, don’t treat yourself to one last dose; it’s simply not worth it.

During Rehab

When entering rehab, you’ll have to go through an assessment and planning stage to help your caregivers design a treatment regimen for you. This is followed by a detoxification phase, where you’ll be monitored and given medications to manage your symptoms as you go through withdrawal. Therapy then follows, during which you’ll gain useful skills to help you stay on track, even after rehab.

After Rehab

Once you have left rehab, you may continue with an aftercare programme organised by your treatment facility. Otherwise, you may be given recommendations for aftercare. This part of the entire process is crucial, because it helps you stay on track and provides the social and emotional support you need. Aftercare may include support groups, sober living homes, or therapy sessions once in a while.

Support Groups

Support groups provide a social and community framework, where you can get all the support you need to maintain sobriety. Support groups involve attending regular meetings with groups of other meth addicts who are on a recovery journey, just as you are. The groups are cost-free and you can keep attending for as long as you need to.

Therapies

Detox and medication alone would not be effective to help you recover from addiction; that is where therapy comes in. You may participate in therapy sessions in an inpatient facility or an outpatient arrangement after rehab.

Different therapies have different approaches, but the goal is to ensure that you can remain meth-free on your own and go back to living a normal life with your family and friends. Different kinds of therapy include: family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, dialectal behavioural therapy (DBT), and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Detox

Detoxification is the first stage of treatment and refers to the process of letting all the meth toxins drain from your system. It is advised that you only detox from meth in a professional setting, where you’ll get all the professional medical help you need to safely detox from substances as potent as meth.

Where Else Can I Find Help?

Another place to find help for your meth addiction is a 12-step programme. Such programmes are examples of support groups where there is an established model you can follow to rid yourself of your addiction. To help manage your cravings and stay sober, you might want to try some herbal remedies, nutritional supplements and acupuncture.

How People Can Overcome Crystal Meth Addiction

The first step to overcome your addiction is to admit that there is a problem. Once you’ve acknowledged your addiction, you need to make a decision to change for the sake of your health, career, family and friends. Finally, take the all important step to seek professional help. When you are ready to take that bold step, contact an addiction helpline and they will advise you on the best course of action.


FAQs

Below are some of the frequently asked questions we are asked about meth symptoms and the warning signs.

What is Crystal Meth Abuse?

Meth abuse is the extreme desire to obtain and consume increasing amounts or crystal meth. Because meth is such a potent drug, abuse can rapidly escalate to substance dependence and addiction.

What are the Risks and Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse?

Amongst the risks and effects of abusing meth are: overdose, seizures, violent behaviour, depression, anxiety, bad breath, dry mouth, severe tooth decay, cardiac arrest, STDs, cognitive impairment, organ damage, psychosis and death.

What Are Some of the Signs and Symptoms of Crystal Meth Abuse?

Meth abuse can produce a number of short-term and long-term effects, such as tremors, diarrhoea, vomiting, unpredictable behaviour, fleeting euphoria, irritability, paranoia, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, uncontrollable jaw clenching, increased breathing rate and blood pressure, as well as increased physical activity.

What Are the Other Health Effects of Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth can cause intense trouble breathing, as well as seizures, stroke, hyperthermia, heart attack, irregular heart rate, chest pain, psychosis, coma and kidney damage, especially when there has been an overdose.

Can a Person Overdose on Crystal Meth?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on crystal meth. Some of the indications of meth overdose include difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, confusion, agitation, muscle or stomach pain, excessive sweating and convulsions.

How Can a Crystal Meth Overdose be Treated?

If you are around a friend or relative who has just overdosed on meth, you must take that person to a hospital immediately. Symptoms may be addressed with medications and activated charcoal may be used if the patient is alert.

How Does Crystal Meth Affect the Brain?

Long-term abuse may lead to irreversible damage to nerve cells, induce a state of psychosis or result in a major decline in IQ. In the short-term, it over-stimulates your brain, leading to feelings of depression and paranoia – amongst other negative effects – when you come down from the ‘high’ of using the drug.

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