Understanding Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth is a man-made drug that causes many dangerous physical symptoms. It is highly addictive. Those who use crystal meth often find it hard to stop, even after very few initial uses.

What is Crystal Meth?

crystal-meth-methamphetamineCrystal Meth, short for crystal methamphetamines, is a man-made stimulant drug made from pseudoephedrine, an ingredient found in many over the counter cold medications. While most of the US’s crystal meth is imported from Mexico, there are smaller make shift labs in the USA – usually in individual homes or portable living compartment trailers. The creation of crystal meth is dangerous due to the explosive nature of the chemicals involved in refining ingredients into crystals.

Although crystal meth is most commonly smoked through pipes, it can also be inhaled nasally, eaten, or injected directly into veins. It appears as a transparent, white, pink or blue crystal. This is where the drug gets its name.

There are no legal uses for crystal meth, although it was reportedly once given to soldiers during World War II in order to keep them awake during combat. Other forms of methamphetamines are used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obesity, and other medical conditions.

How it Affects Users:

crystal-methCrystal meth is known for its powerful and immediate “high” or “rush”. It causes the brain to be immersed in feel good chemicals like dopamine. This powerful sensation of euphoria and energy often causes users to become addicted right from the beginning – sometimes even from the first use. This makes it especially dangerous.

Like with most drugs, the high eventually becomes lessened, so that more drug is needed is to achieve the same high.

When not high, users may find themselves feeling agitated, more easily irritable, or jittery.

In some cases, users may notice an increase in body temperature when using crystal meth. Sometimes, body temperature may rise high enough to cause severe illness or death.

Warning Signs

There is no way to know for sure whether someone is using drugs unless you have a drug test performed. Numerous warning signs do exist, however, that may indicate someone is using drugs.

Physical signs of drug abuse – Crystal Meth users may exhibit specific physical signs:
  • Blisters or non-healing sores around the face and mouth
    Tooth decay
    Bloodshot eyes from sleeplessness
    The inability to function normally at home or at work
    Sudden or extreme weight loss

  • Extreme talkativeness
    Paranoia
    Awake all night, and for prolonged bouts
    The inability to eat at meals
    Possible needle marks called “track marks” on the arms, legs, or between the toes

Additional signs may also become apparent. Those who are using drugs may:
  • Lose interest in activities they once enjoyed
    Become withdrawn or isolated from others
    Begin exhibiting aggressive or irritable behaviors
    Become absent from work or class
    Lose touch with friends and family members

  • Act secretive or like they are hiding something
    Pick at their skin, often leading to sores and abrasions
    Lack standard personal hygiene routines
    Remove or steal light bulbs frequently, as they can be made into smoking apparatuses

Those who use crystal meth may also feel as though bugs are crawling over them, or have uncomfortable sensations under the skin.

Who is At Risk of Crystal Meth Addiction?

Drug addiction can strike anyone, at any time. Even so, there are groups who are more likely to experiment with illegal drugs, such as crystal meth, than the general population.

Teens and college students: Young adults try drugs for a variety of reasons. Some do so because they want to “fit in” or be like their friends. Others experiment with drugs because they are available at parties or clubs. Still others attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to cope with stress at home or at school.

Professionals: Up to 70 percent of drug users hold down a job, in spite of their drug use. These high functioning addicts sometimes turn to drugs due to high pressure careers, and some even use while on the job.

Veterans: Those who have served our country in the military are, unfortunately, more likely to suffer from substance abuse issues. Multiple deployments, separation from family and friends for extended periods, and sometimes poor living conditions, often lead to co-occurring conditions. Veterans are also more likely to suffer from additional disorders, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Males – Research has shown that males are more like to try drugs than females. While this may be true, females are more likely to spiral into severe addiction faster than males, so they are not immune to the effects.

Relatives of Addicts – Those who have immediate family members who use or have used drugs are more likely to do so themselves. According to studies reported by the Mayo Clinic, there is a genetic link when it comes to drug addiction. Those who are the children of addicts may be more likely to become addicts themselves. It is also true that those who are raised around drugs are more likely to try them in the first place.

Peers of Drug Users – Many people begin using drugs due to peer pressure. Those who hang around friends or colleagues who use drugs are more likely to try them because of social pressures to “fit in.” Teens and young adults who frequent parties and clubs are also exposed to drugs like crystal meth.

Crystal Meth Statistics?

  • In 2012, there were nearly half a million people who reported using meth in the past month in the US. In 2006 that number was approximately 731,000.
  • There were approximately 30 thousand less emergency room visits in 2011 than there were in 2004 from meth abuse. In 2004, it was over 130 thousand. In 2011, it was just over 100 thousand.
  • The most abuse and addiction reports of meth come from the American West. Meth use is declining overall, but numbers are still in the hundreds of thousands when it comes to users.

Treatment

Because crystal meth is so addictive, it is very hard to stop without professional help. Those who attempt to quit “cold turkey” or without the right guidance often relapse quickly. There are a few types of professional help one might receive when trying to stop using crystal meth.

Support groups – These are often led by counselors or former addicts who are recovering. Support groups allow users to relate to others who have struggled with the same addictions and troubles they have.

Outpatient counseling – This involves users going to visit a counselor, usually once or more per week to start, and then slowly lessening over time. A therapist who has been trained in helping addicts can help guide users through the pitfalls of recovery.

Inpatient Facilities – Inpatient drug rehabilitation programs offer treatment in several ways. First, they help users detox from the drugs. This generally involves removing access to drugs until they are out of their system. Detoxification is followed by intensive counseling sessions to get to the root of the reasons why a person started using to begin with. Group therapy is often also implemented in inpatient rehabilitation centers as well. Outpatient programs are generally used as follow up once the more intensive inpatient regimens are over. Inpatient treatment by medical professionals is the best option for severe addictions. Inpatient treatment overseen by medical professionals is imperative for anyone who has any level of addiction to crystal meth.

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