Recognizing Meth Abuse

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The use of methamphetamines, or meth, comes with a high potential for severe addiction. People abusing methamphetamines need a meth addiction treatment program to give them specialized help in recovery. If you’re concerned that you or someone you love may be using or abusing meth, it’s helpful to understand some of the most common signs of meth abuse.

What Are Methamphetamines?

Methamphetamines belong to the class of drugs known as stimulants. Also known as meth, methamphetamines are Schedule II controlled substances in the United States. Doctors may legally prescribe medications with methamphetamines in extremely limited circumstances to treat conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the most prevalent forms of meth are created and sold illegally, such as crystal meth.

Named for its resemblance to crystals, crystal meth is a synthetic drug manufactured in labs. It is often more potent and concentrated than other methamphetamines, meaning crystal meth has high addiction potential. It can be smoked or injected.

The physical effects of crystal meth become apparent the first time someone uses the drug. The behavioral effects of crystal meth aren’t always obvious until someone has already developed a pattern of meth abuse. This means you should seek help for yourself or someone else as soon as possible after recognizing signs of meth abuse.

Physical Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse

Meth abuse can dramatically alter a person’s appearance. Every individual is different, but some common signs to watch for are:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Sores or infections on the skin
  • Burns on fingers or lips
  • Fast heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Grinding or rotting teeth
  • Droopy facial skin
  • Excessive scratching
  • Twitching or jerky movements
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sudden weight loss

Beyond these symptoms, addiction to crystal meth can raise a person’s risk for stroke, liver damage, and infectious diseases.

Behavioral Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse

Meth increases the brain’s levels of dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical that is part of the brain’s reward system. These positive feelings keep users returning for more doses since their brains associate methamphetamines with reward. However, increased dopamine will eventually create an imbalance in the brain’s normal operations. This imbalance could affect people’s memories and ability to retain information. Someone who uses meth frequently may be unable to learn new motor skills or make accurate visual memories.

Some behavioral symptoms happen during the “crash” phase, or the one- to three-day period after the effects of crystal meth wear off. During a crash, people experience a loss of dopamine that can lead to extreme exhaustion, depression, and long periods of sleep.

Another phenomenon is “tweaking,” the end of a methamphetamine binge when a person using meth experiences painful symptoms from three to 15 days. They may endure insomnia and paranoia, hallucinate, act irritable and confused, or move their eyes rapidly back and forth.

Other behavioral effects of meth abuse could include:

  • Abandoning goals or relationships to use methamphetamines
  • Mood swings or outbursts
  • Extreme agitation
  • Unusually high alertness or physical activity
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Increased libido or sex drive

These symptoms of meth abuse may be bewildering and frightening. However, a good meth addiction treatment program can help clients detox safely and reduce their symptoms.

Treatment for Meth Addiction at Southern Sky Recovery

We know from experience that it’s possible to recover from even severe methamphetamine addictions. If you think you may need professional intervention services for someone in your life who is using meth, our experienced interventionist can help facilitate a conversation with your loved one. Interventions can sometimes be the most effective way to get a person the help they need.

Our many modes of treatment include a partial hospitalization program, which offers multiple therapy sessions, accountability, and structure for clients in the early stages of recovery. As recovery progresses, clients can transition to one of our outpatient programs. To learn more about our meth addiction treatment program, call 843.350.5769.

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