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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction?

Understanding the signs and symptoms of meth addiction is crucial in combating abuse. Learn more here.

Understanding Meth

Meth is one of the most dangerous illegal drugs abused in the United States. The Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies meth as a Schedule II substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and physical and psychological dependency.

Despite its dangers, meth remains a serious issue and a common substance of abuse. In 2017, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 14.7 million people reported trying meth at least once in their lives.1

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What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine, popularly called meth, is a powerfully addictive stimulant that affects the brain and central nervous system. It is an odorless, white, and crystalline powder that tastes bitter.


When a dose of meth drug is consumed, it gives a long-lasting, euphoric effect due to its interaction with the central nervous system. Prolonged meth use could even become fatal due to over-exposure to the central nervous system and the brain.



What Is Meth Addiction?

Meth addiction refers to chronic use of meth resulting in compulsive drug-seeking behavior and the uncontrollable urge to use the substance regardless of adverse effects. When an individual consumes meth, it releases a significant amount of a chemical called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the body’s “feel-good” chemical, responsible for eliciting feelings of pleasure and motivation. Neuroimaging studies have shown that meth reduces the activity of the dopamine system in the brain, decreasing motor function and impairing verbal learning.2

Impact of Meth Use

 Meth is also responsible for increasing the release of other neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which help stimulate brain cells and enhance energy levels.

After frequent and prolonged use, the body and brain begin developing a tolerance for its pleasurable effects. As a result, people often need higher doses of meth and even change the method of administration to achieve the same level of euphoria as before.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction?

When the body is exposed to meth for extended periods, unpleasant signs and symptoms arise. These symptoms of meth abuse can be further classified into physical, psychological, and behavioral/social symptoms. Noting the following signs and symptoms can increase the chances of recognizing them and helping those with meth addiction. 


Physical Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Physical symptoms of meth addiction include:

  • Increased heart rate and body temperature
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Hyperactivity
  • Weight loss
  • Bruised or scabbed skin

Psychological Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Psychological symptoms of meth addiction include:

  • Intense mood swings
  • Paranoia and hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate or focus
  • Impaired judgment

Behavioral/Social Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Behavioral and social indicators of meth abuse include:

  • Continuing to abuse meth even after experiencing its negative effects
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once important or enjoyable
  • Failing to meet personal responsibilities
  • Being incapable of controlling the amount or frequency of meth use
  • Attempting and failing to stop taking meth
  • Becoming uninterested in grooming, personal hygiene, and physical appearance
  • Picking obsessively at hair or skin

Causes of Meth Addiction

Although the causes of meth addiction can be quite challenging to pin down, research has linked several factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing meth addiction. Such factors will be detailed below.3

Biological and Genetical

A parent with meth and alcohol addiction problems or a history of meth addiction is more likely to transfer such genes to the child, thereby making the child susceptible to addiction.


Environmental

The environment is a primary factor determining if a person will succumb to meth abuse. For example, if a person is constantly exposed to an environment where meth addictive drugs are consumed, the likelihood of trying meth increases.


Psychological

Certain people are born with a brain structure and central nervous system that functions differently, putting them at an increased chance of meth addiction.


Higher Availability of the Drug

Easy accessibility to meth is one major risk factor contributing significantly to meth addiction. Individuals with increased access to meth have a higher tendency to develop an addiction to meth.


Underlying Mental Health Issues

31.3% of people with mental health issues have used illicit drugs either for recreation or as a means of coping with adverse effects of their mental health condition.


Drugs Commonly Combined With Meth

Another dangerous yet common factor that contributes to the damaging effects of meth addiction is combining drugs. Mixing other drugs with meth can provide different effects, such as increased euphoria and pleasure, higher potency, or relaxation. These combinations can cause significant health risks and adverse effects. Some drugs commonly combined with meth include:

Alcohol

Meth and alcohol are a very dangerous combination. People who mix meth and alcohol feel less sedated or intoxicated; however, this mixture can result in increased heart rate, blood pressure, and an upset stomach. In 2011, data showed that 16% of meth-related emergency department visits involved alcohol.4

In addition, people can develop a tolerance for the drug combination as its euphoria effect diminishes in time with repeated use.


Morphine

The combination of meth and morphine produces a behavioral stimulation much higher than using meth alone. This mixture of meth and morphine enhances the “rewarding effect” of the drug. Still, it strains the central nervous and respiratory systems and can increase the likelihood of an overdose.


Xanax

Because Xanax is a depressant, people mix it with meth to battle the jitteriness caused by methamphetamine. This combination is quite dangerous as it causes fatal health problems like stroke or heart attack.


Meth Addiction

Meth Addiction

Meth Withdrawal and Overdose

Despite withdrawal and overdose having opposing characteristics, both can lead to serious and harmful effects on the body.


What Are the Effects of Meth Withdrawal?

Withdrawal occurs when meth use suddenly stops or reduces after developing tolerance and dependency on the substance. A common reason for withdrawal is detoxing, which involves gradually decreasing the concentration of meth in the body.

The meth detox process is usually accompanied by several withdrawal effects due to the body becoming acclimated to functioning with the substance for an extended period. The meth withdrawal timeline can last anywhere from twenty-four hours to two weeks. Symptoms observed during meth detoxification depend on the duration, frequency, and amount of meth consumed.

Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal

These adverse effects of meth withdrawal include the following:


  • Intense cravings for meth
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headaches

What Are the Effects of Meth Overdose?

Overdose, taking too much of a substance, is a grave concern in meth addiction. In 2018, 67,367 deaths were caused by methamphetamine overdose. Effects of meth drug overdose include:5

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Agitation
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat
  • Extremely high or low blood pressure
  • Seizure
  • Coma

What to Do When Meth Affects Your Health

There are several steps to take when meth affects your health, and the treatment options vary according to how chronic the addiction disease is. Nonetheless, the first step in treating meth's side effects is usually a medically supervised detoxification. 

Medical Meth Detox

Medical meth detox is healthcare providers' first step in meth addiction treatment. It involves safely and systematically reducing the body’s meth levels in a drug-free environment. To lessen the severity of accompanying withdrawal symptoms, healthcare professionals administer an ever-decreasing dose of the meth medication or a replacement drug.

Behavioral Treatment

Behavioral therapy aims to identify and change meth addictive patterns. It helps people learn new drug-free habits to cope with life stress and adapt to a healthy lifestyle.

Meth Addiction Rehab

There are various rehab treatment options available. There are intensive outpatient rehab programs where patients receive meth treatment without living at the facility. Another option is residential treatment programs, where patients live at the recovery facility and receive twenty-four-seven supervision from healthcare providers.

Meth addiction rehab is a great way to safely recover from meth addiction and learn how to identify and deal with meth use triggers.

Get Help for Meth Addiction at Boardwalk Recovery Center

Meth addiction is treatable with the proper care and mindset. At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we have comprehensive treatment strategies that can assist you in your recovery from meth addiction. One of the treatment methods we offer is the Spiritually Therapeutic Treatment Approach, which includes faith-based learning, a 12-Step process, and clinical treatment carried out in a safe environment.

Reach out today to learn more about our programs and how to get started on your road to recovery.


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