Learn About Methamphetamine Addiction & Abuse
Classified as a stimulant, methamphetamine is an illicit substance can that ravage a person’s very existence. Also commonly referred to as meth, this drug is known for its highly addictive properties and its intensely pleasurable high that can keep people using it over and over again. Whether smoked, snorted, or injected, the high that meth produces can linger anywhere from six to twelve hours and cause a person to feel detached from his or her person and/or surroundings.
Once an addiction to meth develops, every area of an individual’s life becomes affected. Relationships with others can crumble, one’s ability to adhere to daily responsibilities falters, and the overall health of a person struggling with this form of chemical dependency is likely to deteriorate. Over time, the risk of life-threatening consequences becomes very real, as the potential for a fatal overdose elevates.
Luckily, there are a myriad of treatment options that exist that can free individuals from the grips of a meth addiction. By making the choice to partake in treatment, a person can come to know a life that is no longer impacted by this lethal substance.
Methamphetamine Abuse Statistics
According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, methamphetamine is more commonly used among younger individuals than older individuals. Research has also concluded that less than 1% of the American population abuses meth in a given year. Lastly, through extensive studies, it was discovered that males are more likely to inject this substance when compared to females.
Causes and Risk Factors for Methamphetamine Abuse
The reasons for explaining why and how a person comes to abuse methamphetamine can be complex. Based on research that was conducted to understand the causes and risk factors for this type of chemical dependency concern, the following are the most commonly cited contributing factors for why some individuals abuse meth while others do not:
Environmental: Where an individual spends most of his or her time can play a significant role in determining whether or not a person will abuse meth. Whether it is the environment in which an individual was raised, or the places a person choses to spend time as an adolescent or adult, exposure to meth or other drugs use can influence the inception of experimenting with this perilous substance. Additionally, if a person lacks appropriate and healthy coping skills, exposure to ongoing violence, stress, chaos, various types of abuse, or having unstable caregivers can all add to the likelihood that an individual will come to abuse methamphetamine. Lastly, research shows that those who are struggling with untreated mental health conditions are more likely to resort to drug use, including meth abuse.
- Personal history of other substance abuse
- Having poor impulse control
- Family history of substance abuse
- Exposure to stress, chaos, or violence
- Exposure to physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse
- Personal history of grappling with conduct disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, or another mental illness
Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Abuse
Indicators that suggest a person is struggling with the abuse of methamphetamine can vary. Depending on the severity of the addiction, the longevity of the abuse itself, and the presence of other substance use or mental disorders, the warning signs and symptoms of meth abuse can appear differently from person to person.
However, if you are concerned that your loved one is battling an addiction to meth, it could be helpful to note the presence of any of the following behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms:
- Continuing to use meth despite problems caused by use of this substance
- Inability to decrease or control one’s use of meth
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from meth use
- Failing to keep up with obligations in one’s personal life due to meth use
- Continuing to use meth in situations where it could be dangerous
- Continuing to use meth despite knowing that problems have been caused by its use
- Taking increased amounts of meth over a longer period of time than originally intended
- Being tolerant of meth, and requiring more of it in order to get high
- Overpowering cravings to continue using meth
- No longer displaying interest in things once enjoyed
Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse
Long-term use of meth can render a number of serious effects within a person’s life. For this reason, it is important for a person to consider, seek, and then participate in an effective treatment program so that the following adversities can be avoided:
- Cardiovascular problems
- Infections due to intravenous drug use
- Contracting viruses, including hepatitis and HIV
- Interactions with law enforcement
- Neurocognitive impairments
- Onset or worsening of mental health condition symptoms
- Polysubstance use
- Development of an addiction, or chemical dependency
- Damage to vital organs and organ systems
Methamphetamine Abuse & Co-Occurring Disorders
It is quite common for those who struggle with meth abuse to also suffer from the symptoms of other mental disorders. When this is the case, it is important for a person to consider care that includes treatment for both a meth use disorder and the following co-occurring conditions if they are present at the same time:
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Other substance use disorders
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Gambling disorder
Effects of Methamphetamine Withdrawal & Overdose
Effects of meth withdrawal: Similar to other substances of abuse, the use of methamphetamine can cause a person’s body to become tolerant of the substance as a result. When this occurs, and if an individual stops using meth, he or she will likely endure a process of withdrawal. Meth withdrawal can include a compilation of unpleasant symptoms that can be quite distressing. If you or someone you care about experiences any of the following, treatment should be considered as an addiction to meth has likely developed:
- Sleep disturbances
- Vivid dreams
- Slowed movements
- Increased appetite
Effects of meth overdose: Overdosing on meth should always be treated as a medical emergency. Because an overdose signifies that a person’s body has become overrun by this substance, emergency medical attention should be sought as quickly as possible in order to prevent a grave outcome. The following are the telltale signs of overdose and should be heeded as warning signs that a person’s health could be in real danger:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle cramps
Frequently Asked Questions About Meth Addiction
What are physical symptoms of meth use?
The following are among the many physical symptoms that can arise as the result of meth use:
- Decaying teeth
- Muscle spasms or twitching
- Skin sores
- Facial tics
- Significant weight loss
- Foul body odor
Why is meth addictive?
When a person consumes meth, it goes immediately into the bloodstream and throughout the body’s nervous system. This initiates a release of dopamine, which is a chemical that causes the body to feel pleasure. As soon as the drug begins to wear off, highly uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal begin. Taking more meth alleviates the symptoms of withdrawal, causing people to consume more of the drug, and ultimately become physically dependent on it.
What are warning signs of methamphetamine use?
There are a number of signs that could indicate that someone is using methamphetamine, including the following:
- Sudden, unprovoked aggressive outbursts
- Significant weight loss
- Negative changes in physical appearance (decaying teeth, facial sores, excessive acne, etc.)
- Drastic changes in mood
- Erratic or belligerent behaviors
- Frequent absences from school or work
- Social withdrawal
- Lying and stealing
How do you overcome methamphetamine addiction?
Overcoming an addiction to methamphetamine can be extremely difficult, and typically requires professional assistance. By seeking treatment, you can receive detox services that safely and effectively clear the drug from your system. You can also engage in therapeutic interventions that will help you understand addiction, learn how to avoid relapse, and practice coping skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
What are the warning signs of meth overdose?
If you suspect that someone has overdosed on meth, it is imperative that you seek emergency medical attention. Signs that could indicate that a person has overdosed on meth can include the following:
- Extreme difficulty breathing
- Losing consciousness
- Intense chest pains
- Hot and cold sweats
Are meth and mental illness related?
Mental illness may be related to meth use in the sense that when a person is suffering from the symptoms of a mental health condition, he or she is more susceptible to engaging in substance abuse as a means of self-medicating. Additionally, when a person is genetically predisposed to mental illness, abusing meth has the potential to cause the onset of symptoms.
Can meth withdrawal kill you?
Withdrawing from meth can be extremely dangerous when not done under the supervision of professionals. Not only are the symptoms of withdrawal uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but they can also put your health at risk. By getting professional treatment, you can receive detox services which will allow the substance to be safely and effectively removed from your system without putting your health in danger.