Maybe the only thing scarier for someone struggling with addiction than never being able to…
How a Meth Addict Thinks
“After a few months in my parents’ basement, I took an apartment near the state university, where I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these things are dangerous, but in combination, they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations.”
– David Sedaris, best-selling author, Me Talk Pretty One Day
Methamphetamine addiction is no laughing matter. It destroys lives, fractures families, and demolishes hopes and dreams. The dangers of meth have been well-known for decades, but an alarming trend has cropped up in the last few years. Methamphetamine use is on the rise, becoming an epidemic similar to the opioid crisis.
If you have a family member or loved one who is struggling with meth addiction, it’s likely you have tried to understand why they can’t stop using or can’t stay stopped. Watching them waste away while their beautiful white teeth turn into “meth mouth”, you can’t understand why someone addicted to meth continues to use the drug, no matter how bad it gets for them and those around them.
Hopefully, this article can help you understand just why a meth addict does what they do. In short, how a meth addict thinks. With information and a better understanding of the psychological effects of meth addiction, you can help your loved one get the help they desperately need.
It’s Pleasure … Until It’s Not
Tweak, speed, crystal, glass, crank. Whatever street name is used, meth is meth. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive man-made drug that makes the user feel intense pleasure and euphoria immediately upon use. It also produces increased stimulation, with users reportedly staying up for three or more days on binges. Many meth addicts report feeling hooked from the first use.
It feels so good that someone addicted to meth makes the drug their priority. That feeling of euphoria becomes so important that everything else — a job, a family, a car, a house — becomes obsolete. Only one thing matters, getting and using more meth.
Once addicted, the afflicted person needs more meth to feel the same high as their first time. A monomaniacal obsession takes over, and they become willing to sacrifice everything they used to love to try to reclaim that initial feeling.
Tolerance Leads to More and Different Using
After using meth for an extended amount of time, the brain will develop a tolerance. Tolerance occurs when a user has to use a larger quantity of a drug in order to feel the same effects as they used to. It’s just like someone who drinks alcohol often, doesn’t appear drunk after even three drinks in short order.
Sometimes, when someone uses large amounts of meth for a long enough period of time, they will change the way they use. They will switch from snorting it in powder form to smoking it. If that doesn’t work or stops working, they will begin to inject it intravenously. Injecting meth is considerably more dangerous than sniffing or smoking it.
If someone you love is using meth, these stages of addiction can be challenging to comprehend. It may seem like they are purposely hurting you by hurting themselves. This is not the case. Suffering from an addiction to meth, they are battling a vicious disease that wreaks havoc on their physical and mental health.
What Meth Addicts Are Thinking
It is almost impossible to understand what someone is thinking while they are under the influence of methamphetamine. As a stimulant, their brain is overloaded with stimulation, characterized by an intense, obsessive focus on multiple, seemingly random, activities and things.
Aside from the short-term effects of meth while high, chronic meth use is characterized by many concerning and severe psychological disturbances:
- Significant anxiety
- Intense confusion
- Mood disturbances
- Violent behavior
If someone begins displaying violent behavior, safety (for them and for you) becomes a priority. Take whatever precautions you need. These might include having someone else with you in their presence, bringing licensed medical and/or social workers, and in extreme cases, calling 911 for police help.
Many times, these psychological disturbances can change into psychotic episodes brought on by drug use and lack of sleep. The most common symptoms of psychotic breaks relating to meth use include:
- Visual and auditory hallucinations (sometimes called “shadow people”)
- Delusions (such as the sensation that insects are crawling under their skin)
It is difficult to separate the person you love from the person they become when meth has taken hold of them. With abstinence from meth and proper treatment and aftercare, the insane thinking of a meth addict will subside. It does take time, though, so patience and support can make the difference between becoming an ex-addict and a relapse. Ongoing therapy and treatment are essential elements to recovery from meth addiction.