Meth use is a growing epidemic costing the United States $23.4 billion dollars in 2005 alone. Our loved ones, neighbors, and friends are among the Americans affected by drug addiction and abuse.
Meth use doesn’t only affect the individual user, however. Meth use affects communities through an increase in crime, unemployment, and child neglect or abuse.
Knowing meth symptoms and warning signs, however, may help your loved one to get the help they need. People suffering from a meth addiction can and do recover with the right treatment. However, since meth is a highly addictive substance it’s not guaranteed that they will accept the help they desperately need at first.
So, what are the symptoms and warning signs of meth use?
Read on to find out so that your loved one can have an opportunity to receive early intervention.
Meth Symptoms and Warning Signs
Meth is a potent stimulant which affects the user psychologically, socially, and medically. Take note of the following meth symptoms and warning signs so that you can help your loved one to get the help they need.
Symptoms of Addiction to Meth
Immediately after using meth, the user’s demeanor will change. Users display hyperactive signs such as an increase in physical activity, talkativeness, and attention span. The user will experience these effects as being euphoric and may feel like they are invincible.
Since meth is a stimulant, it elevates the user’s dopamine levels. When excess dopamine is released in the body it gives the individual a high which accompanies an increase in energy levels. This increase in energy levels allows the user to have less need for sleep, a depleted appetite, and a general sense of euphoria.
In order to produce hyperactivity, the body’s organs must also speed up. As a result, the meth user will also experience an increased heart rate, faster breathing, and hyperthermia. An increase in heart rate also makes the user susceptible to experiencing a heart attack.
A common and classic symptom of meth use is skin picking. Meth users are known to intensely pick at the skin on their face and body which will resemble a bad case of acne. Skin picking may also result in open sores on the face.
Tooth decay and tooth loss are also warning signs of meth use. Symptoms include blackening and rotting teeth, stained teeth, and teeth that are falling apart completely.
Changes in dental health for meth users are likely the result of psychological symptoms such as neglecting oral hygiene and changes in physiology which cause dry mouth. In a dental examination of meth users with “meth mouth,” 96% had cavities, 58% had untreated tooth decay, and 31% were missing teeth.
Another physical change you may notice in your loved one is weight loss accompanied by a frail appearance. Since meth use decreases the user’s appetite weight loss is a very common symptom to watch for. Your loved one’s face may also appear to be sunken and gaunt.
Warning Signs a Loved One May Be Abusing Meth
Psychological changes are also a warning sign of meth use. Psychological signs are often side effects of meth’s stimulant qualities such as insomnia and an increase in energy. Intense bouts of insomnia lasting 3 to 15 days for a meth user is known as “tweaking.”
During the tweaking phase, the meth user continuously uses the drug resulting in paranoia, irritability, and changes in mood. During the tweaking phase, the meth user is also more susceptible to violent and criminal behavior.
Meth users may also experience a meth-induced psychosis which results in paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. Psychosis may also increase skin picking and scratching due to the user experiencing “skin crawling” sensations interpreted as bugs crawling over their skin.
Long-term use of meth may also cause memory problems and decreased capacity to learn. This is due to the negative side effects of an imbalance of dopamine in the user’s brain.
One of the most obvious signs of meth use is discovering drug paraphernalia. Finding drug paraphernalia is a strong indication that drug use is presently occurring.
Meth can be snorted, smoked, injected, or inhaled which requires an array of objects to achieve.
For meth users who inject the drug, syringes, and spoons or aluminum foil to heat the drug to liquid form may be present. For users who smoke meth torch lighters, glass pipes, hollowed out pens and light bulbs, and shortened straws are items to look for.
Other meth paraphernalia to be aware of include small baggies known as “dime bags.” This is a common container method drug dealers use to provide users with meth. The baggies may also be cut down sandwich bags which are then tied with twist ties.
Is My Child Using?
If your child is using meth, they will likely display some of the symptoms and warning signs outlined above. They may also start to neglect their school work and become socially withdrawn.
Meth users may also begin to get in trouble with the law by behaving in criminal ways. They may steal, rob, or violently act out in order to get the drug and/or as a result of the psychological, physical, and mental side effects of meth.
Is My Parent Using?
If your parent is using meth, they may you may notice that your parent is more absent, secretive, and avoidant.
When an individual is addicted to meth their behavior consequently changes as a result. Meth users may become so consumed with getting high that they neglect their work, personal, and parental responsibilities.
Intervention for Meth Abuse
If your loved one is using meth, they may also act out violently towards you when questioned about their drug use or as a result of a conflict. If you intend on posing an intervention for your loved one, it’s well-advised to also have a professional interventionalist present to manage violent behaviors and reduce potential conflict.
After an intervention is staged, your loved one can then go to a treatment facility for meth addiction where healthcare professionals and counselors can help them to detox and recover from their addiction.
Meth Symptoms and Warning Signs Awareness
Awareness of meth symptoms and warning signs is the first step in getting your loved one help. Knowing the reality of your loved one’s addiction can also help you to respond accordingly by protecting yourself, staging an intervention, and/or behaving towards your loved one differently.
Addiction is a medical disease which needs proper treatment, monitoring, and behavioral and psychological interventions such as counseling and rehab. You’re not alone in helping to get your loved one the help they need and to recover from their addiction.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to get guidance for you or your loved ones’ addiction and resulting treatment, then contact us today. We can help to connect you to learn more about addiction, treatment, or scheduling an intervention.