If you suspect that someone you care about has fallen prey to meth addiction, we know that it’s easy to feel helpless.
You want to know how you can help them, but you’re not sure the best way to approach them.
You also want to know more about the most common symptoms of meth use, as well as the long-term consequences of abusing this horrific drug. Most of all, you want to understand what it takes to stage an effective intervention, and how to find the right kind of treatment program.
This post will tell you everything you need to know about starting someone on the path to recovery from meth addiction.
Know the Signs of Meth Use
The first thing that you need to understand before you try to assist someone who you suspect is using meth?
Keep in mind that not every user will display all of these symptoms. Additionally, the intensity of the symptoms will likely vary based on how long they’ve been using, and how much they use.
Still, it helps to have a basic idea of meth symptoms. These usually fall into two categories: emotional and physical.
Meth Mouth: Common Physical Signs of Meth Use
Since the physical signs that someone is a meth addict are often more obvious, let’s take a look at them first.
You’re likely already aware to be on the lookout for what’s commonly referred to as “meth mouth.” In fact, over 95% of meth users have some sort of cavities, and well over half of them have tooth decay that’s been left untreated.
Over 1/4 of meth addicts also have six or more teeth that are completely missing.
Look for teeth that are rotting, severely stained, or even discolored and chipped.
So, why does this happen?
Meth mouth is one of the most common symptoms of meth use because meth itself is acidic.
This means that it can wear down the surface of the teeth quickly. Plus, meth creates a high that causes users to want to chow down on foods and drinks with a high sugar content. Users also frequently clench and grind their teeth, especially if they’re going through withdrawal symptoms.
Plus, the simple fact is that when someone is high, oral hygiene often falls by the wayside.
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Other Physical Meth Addiction Symptoms
Meth mouth is far from the only physical sign of a meth addiction.
You may also begin to spot open sores, scars, and lesions on the body of the person you suspect may be a meth addict.
This is because meth actually lowers the levels of blood circulation in the body. In fact, it actually constricts your blood vessels, which can sometimes lead to blood clots. (We’ll talk more about the consequences of meth use later on in this post.)
Over time, it becomes harder for a user’s body to heal itself as it normally would. Plus, the body soon becomes more susceptible to serious skin infections, which makes sores and scarring even more intense.
Of course, meth users also quickly lose a lot of weight. Sadly, the desire to shed a few pounds can sometimes be what leads someone to start using meth in the first place.
Remember that meth, in addition to working as an appetite suppressant, also increases your overall energy levels.
Sadly, meth also seriously ages the people who use it. This is because it actually damages your skin’s overall elasticity level, which can cause you to develop wrinkles and look older.
Finally, you may be familiar with the concept of “tweaking.” These are physical ticks like rapid eye movements and other jerky, uncoordinated and seemingly random movements. In some cases, the meth user may deal with insomnia for several days on end.
You’ll notice that they begin to speak increasingly rapidly, and that sometimes, what they’re saying doesn’t seem to make any sense.
The Emotional Signs of Meth Addiction
Of course, there is a lot more to meth addiction than the physical symptoms alone.
The friends and family members of a meth addict will often notice — and struggle to deal with — the emotional consequences of meth use.
First of all, you may notice that the addict has become extremely paranoid lately. They may accuse you of lying to them, or think that you and other people who love them are “out to get them.” They’ll frequently blame everyone else around them for their addiction and unhappiness.
You should expect for mood swings and the addict’s overall feelings and emotional state to be extreme and, usually, intense. Fits of tears, shouting matches, and sometimes even physical violence can occur.
The meth user frequently makes reckless and impulsive decisions with little regard for how they’ll impact the people around them. They may steal money, prostitute themselves, or do almost anything to get their next fix.
In some cases, the meth user may also socially withdraw. They likely do this because they fear you’ll tell them to get help, when they may not even be ready to admit they have a problem in the first place.
Their social group has likely changed, and the people they spend time with support their use (as they’re often meth addicts themselves.)
The things and people they used to prioritize, even their own children, no longer seem to matter. It’s the emotional side effects that often encourage people to stage an intervention for the addict, as the person they used to know is gone.
Risks of Meth Use
Now that you’re familiar with the signs of meth use, let’s talk about the long-term and immediate risks.
Especially if you’re considering having an intervention for a meth user, knowing these risks — and being realistic with the user about them — is a tool you need to have in your negotiation toolbox.
Users may feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety and depression. This can lead to disorientation and confusion. In some cases, they may experience panic attacks, hallucinations, and even psychosis.
In time, these can develop into mood disorders.
Using meth also puts a person’s reproductive health, and even their future children, at risk.
They’re also at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted disease and other infectious diseases. They could fall into a coma, have a stroke or seizure, or suffer from a heart attack at almost any time.
There’s no such thing as “safe” or “moderate” meth use, and you’re at a risk of a potentially fatal overdose every time that you use.
They may also have to deal with liver failure and other forms of organ damage, as meth generates toxins in the body and destroys a person’s healthy muscle tissues.
In some cases, permanent eye and vision damage can also occur.
In short: there are a million reasons to stop using, but none to keep on going.
Now, let’s take a look at what you can do to reach the meth addict in your life.
Preparing an Intervention with a Meth Addict
We know that meth addiction can and does tear families apart, put people behind bars, and ruin countless lives.
Especially given the national Opioid Crisis, more attention than ever before is being given to addiction and what it can do. You want to help the person you love get control over their lives again by asking them to accept help.
Staging an intervention is tricky, but often successful in encouraging many different kinds of addicts to get the help that they need.
However, you have to know how to do it the right way.
First of all, get real with yourself and the other people in the room about the kinds of boundaries you’ll have to impose if the addict doesn’t take the treatment.
You’ll no longer drive them to see their kids, to get their drugs, or to go to work or run errands. They’re not welcome in your home. You won’t lend them money. You won’t even take their calls.
This is hard, but it helps the addict to see what’s at stake, and how their choices have affected the lives of others.
You’ll also need to approach the addict from a place of love, not from a place of anger and judgment. You don’t want to make the addict feel guiltier or more worthless than they already do.
Focus on talking about the good memories and the qualities that make them such a special person who is worthy of getting help. Remind them of the good times, and talk about how you feel their addiction has changed them.
It’s a smart idea to have an addiction counselor or an intervention specialist in the room. They can help you understand what to do if the addict tries to flee the intervention and facilitate the conversation in general.
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Finding the Right Treatment Program
If the intervention has gone well, then the meth addict in your life is ready to accept the help.
You just need to make sure you’ve found a treatment program that is the best possible fit for them. You’ll also need to ensure they have support when it comes to a detox program.
Detoxing from Meth
Meth withdrawal can be intense, and when a person starts to get help, detox is usually the first phase of treatment.
Detoxing without supervision or quitting “cold turkey” is incredibly dangerous, not to mention, often unsuccessful. Medically-supervised detoxing ensures that the addict is getting the attention, emotional support, and perhaps even medication that they need.
Plus, it’s hard to know how long the detox process will take, as it varies depending on the intensity of the meth use.
The meth addict needs professional care and supervision during this incredibly challenging time.
The Long-Term Treatment Program
There are countless different kinds of treatment programs for meth addicts in today’s world.
This means that you can find an option that aligns with an addict’s goals, personalities, and even the level of their addiction. Look for treatment programs that will look at the addict as a whole, offering psychological treatment in addition to detox services.
A good program will help them learn how to identify and manage triggers and cravings. It will also address the root causes of addiction, and force the addict to deal with past trauma.
A good program combines both individual and group therapy with specialized classes like art therapy, health and fitness programs, and even outdoor activities and wilderness explorations.
Additionally, especially if the person has been addicted for a long time, family therapy may be the right move for the addict. This means that everyone can learn how they can support the addict in their continued recovery once they leave a treatment program.
Help End Someone’s Meth Addiction Today
We hope that this post has helped you to better understand the signs and symptoms of meth addiction, as well as the long and short-term consequences of using meth.
More than anything, now, you have a stronger grasp on how to help the meth addict in your life.
Staging an intervention and encouraging them to seek treatment can be emotionally challenging, but we know you’ll do whatever you can to help them get control of their life again.
We want to be able to help.
We provide all the resources that you need to understand treatment options.
Get in touch with us today for a confidential assessment, and to learn more about the treatment programs available.