Of all the different types of drug addictions, crystal meth is perhaps the most dangerous of them all. It’s highly addictive, causes extreme behavior in those who use it, and is especially difficult to overcome. Because of these factors, crystal meth addiction requires professional intervention and treatment as soon as possible.
What Is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is the crystalized form of methamphetamine. Meth cooks may combine amphetamines (like pseudoephedrine) with toxic chemicals such as battery acid, drain cleaner and antifreeze to increase potency. Needless to say, the final product is very bad for the body.
Crystal meth is heated and then smoked in order to get a high. It can also be snorted, swallowed and even injected. It is a popular party drug, but it is most often used as a form of escape from unpleasant feelings and/or situations.
The euphoric sensations that crystal meth causes when it affects a user’s brain are followed by a depression or “crash,” and more crystal meth is sought out in hopes of achieving the same level of high. Over time, it is difficult for the user to reach the same high, but that doesn’t stop them from trying, using higher doses or different methods of ingesting the drug.
The Dangers and Effects of Meth Abuse
The chemicals in crystal meth are extremely toxic, so brain damage is one of the many side effects of meth use. In fact, meth is so dangerous that when law enforcement finds a meth lab, professionals in hazmat suits clear the area for the safety of the people and the surrounding environment.
The extremes that meth users resort to in their quest to obtain the drug inevitably lead to arrest and the resulting legal problems and jail time. For this reason, as well as the many medical side effects, it’s important to seek treatment right away if you suspect a loved one has become addicted to crystal meth.
Short-Term Effects of Crystal Meth Use
These are some of the signs and symptoms to watch out for in the short term:
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Hyperactivity and insomnia
- Irritability and aggression
- Confusion, paranoia, hallucinations
Long-Term Effects of Crystal Meth Use
Long-term crystal meth users experience many problems, such as:
- Severe anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Violent behavior
- Confusion, hallucinations and paranoia
- Severe tooth decay
- Severe increases in blood pressure and pulse
- Heart attack
- Kidney and liver damage
- Permanent brain damage
Crystal Meth Assessment and Intervention
Crystal meth addiction can cause extremely volatile behavior, which is often misdiagnosed as a mental disorder such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a professional who is experienced in addiction treatment who can differentiate between symptoms of addiction and mental disorders.
This volatile behavior also makes intervention difficult. Family members often encounter extreme reactions including paranoia, aggression, irrational thinking and even violence. It’s best to have the help of a professional intervention specialist who knows how to handle these types of interventions.
Even with a professional’s help, an intervention can take as long as 10 to 12 hours due to the user’s changing their mind repeatedly, and paranoia that they are in trouble (such as getting arrested) rather than being helped.
Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction
Crystal meth is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. It requires 30 to 60 days just to detox, plus additional time to work on the underlying problems that led to addiction.
For these reasons, a comprehensive, individualized, long-term program is recommended. It’s important to emphasize that detox alone is not enough; your loved one needs to undergo therapy to prevent relapse.
Because of how dangerous this drug is, a relapse could be deadly, and your loved one may never get a second chance at treatment. So choosing an appropriate, reputable program from the beginning is critical.
Look for a long-term inpatient treatment program (90 days or more), with a strong outpatient and/or aftercare program to ensure that your loved one has adequate support in transitioning to a healthy lifestyle.
Getting Professional Help for Meth Addiction
Due to the irrational thinking processes that meth creates in its users, your loved one isn’t going to just decide to quit on their own: They’re past the point of understanding the harm they’re doing to themselves.
It’s better to get help now before an arrest takes the choice out of your hands. And because meth does such severe long-term damage to the brain, and other parts of the body, intervening sooner rather than later is critical.
Thankfully, there are professional interventionists and treatment centers that are experienced in combating crystal meth addiction. The first step is to find out what kind of coverage your insurer will provide, then seek out treatment centers that meet the specific criteria that crystal meth addiction requires.
How Do I Get Insurance Coverage for Crystal Meth Rehab?