Crystal meth is one of the most devastating drugs there is. Addiction to the drug completely destroys lives, and even kills thousands of people in the US every year.
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the drug, from its effects to the ways addicts can recover from them.
Arm yourself with these meth facts to tackle your own substance abuse problem, or to help someone you know with theirs. Learn more, and see what you can do to help those you care about.
Educate Yourself with Our 11 Meth Facts
Here’s how meth affects the body and what you can do about it.
1. Hundreds of Thousands of People in the US Take Meth
Meth is highly addictive, and the effects of the drug are widespread across the US.
According to the Department of Justice’s 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment, around 900,000 people in America currently use methamphetamines.
This figure doesn’t just apply to adults. In fact, some users are as young as 12 years old.
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2. The Short-Term Effects are Drastic
Abusing crystal meth can cause drastic changes in a person’s behavior.
Since meth is a stimulant, those who use it can become extremely excitable and irritable. They become much more alert and active, and can also be very erratic, seemingly switching from one emotion to the other in the blink of an eye.
This behavior can sometimes turn violent, causing users to hurt themselves or people around them.
The drug causes the heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature to rise, and this can be extremely dangerous. In the event of an overdose, these factors can lead to death.
When a meth user goes on a binge, the stimulant effects of the drug can cause them to stay awake for days on end. During this time, they can abandon their responsibilities and relationships, instead of keeping busy by constantly cleaning, exercising, or taking things apart and putting them back together again.
3. The Long-Term Effects are Life-Threatening
Crystal meth abuse can cause permanent damage to the body, bringing on health conditions that can be irreparable or even fatal.
First of all, methamphetamine users have a higher risk of experiencing strokes. This is because the drug damages the blood vessels in the brain and heart, causing blood pressure to increase to a dangerous level.
Crystal meth use also causes extensive damage to the lungs, kidneys and liver.
There are numerous other health risks, which depend on how you take the drug. For example, smoking it causes severe respiratory problems, while injecting it causes skin infections and abscesses.
4. After Meth, You’ll Never Look the Same Again
One of the most telling signs of meth abuse is the way it changes people’s appearance.
In many cases, this is first seen in the teeth. Addicts usually develop extensive tooth decay and gum disease, and as the teeth rot, they’re either extracted or simply fall out on their own. This is commonly referred to as ‘meth mouth’, and is incurable.
Meth mouth tends to be severe because the drug attacks the teeth in a number of ways. First of all, it contains acid ingredients that cause tooth decay. It also causes dry mouth by reducing the amount of saliva that’s produced. This means that the teeth lose a protective barrier, inhibiting the body’s natural way of reducing oral bacteria.
Meth addicts usually neglect their oral hygiene as the drug starts to take hold, and the effects on the teeth become impossible to prevent or control. They can develop a habit of grinding or clenching their teeth. Over time, this causes them to break down even further.
If the drug is snorted, it can also destroy the tissue of the nose, too. Doctors can correct this with plastic surgery, but it’s a very costly procedure.
Another way that meth affects the body’s physical appearance is through weight loss. Users are often malnourished, and experience rapid or extreme weight loss, giving them a hollow and gaunt appearance. The lack of nourishment also means that they can have very little energy, experience frequent bouts of exhaustion.
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5. Crystal Meth Changes the Brain
Over time, repeated meth use alters the way the brain works. One way it does this is by changing the dopamine system.
Dopamine is a hormone that naturally occurs in the body, but when a person uses meth, the brain releases high levels of this substance in rapid succession. This rush of chemicals is what creates the euphoric feeling that makes the drug so addictive. It triggers the brain’s reward system, making users want to continue to take the drug again and again.
However, dopamine is much more than just a feel-good chemical. It also plays an important role in movement, coordination, memory, emotions and learning abilities. This means that the effects of the drug also causes addicts to experience cognitive issues.
Eventually, they begin to have problems with thinking and remembering things. They also become easily confused or disorientated, struggling with basic mobility issues.
Meth use can also cause abnormal brain chemistry and damage to brain cells. The effects are similar to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or strokes. This is why meth users seem to age so drastically in a mental sense as well as a physical one.
6. Meth Can Cause Mental Health Problems
The effects of crystal meth aren’t just physical. In fact, some of the worst consequences of the drug are mental. The changes in brain chemistry that meth causes can lead to several mental health issues.
At first, users start to become apathetic, lacking the motivation or enthusiasm for things they used to enjoy. This can develop into severe depression, which is extremely difficult for addicts to pull themselves out of.
Addicts also commonly experience meth-induced psychosis.
During these episodes, they can experience hallucinations. This doesn’t just mean that they see things that aren’t there. Hallucinations can also come in the form of sounds, smells, feelings, or even tastes.
Those who experience psychosis can also have delusions. This could mean that they think they’re being targeted, followed, controlled or tricked for no good reason.
Another symptom of psychosis is obsessive behavior. This is why addicts are often seen compulsively repeating the same actions or movements over and over again.
7. Addicts are at a Higher Risk of HIV
Scientists say that crystal meth is fuelling the HIV/AIDs epidemic.
Injecting methamphetamine brings a risk of contracting HIV, as well as other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis.
This isn’t the only way that the drug increases the risk. It also boosts sexual arousal while causing people to engage in risky behaviors, such as impulsive or unprotected sex.
Meth users who have already contracted HIV can also experience the condition more severely. This is because the condition worsens, causing more extensive damage to nerve cells in those who are addicted to meth or have a history of using the drug.
8. Meth is Extremely Dangerous for Pregnant Women
Since meth can influence people to engage in unprotected sex, users are also at a higher risk of pregnancy.
Those who continue to abuse methamphetamine during pregnancy run the risk of causing severe harm to their unborn child.
Children of meth users are often born prematurely and can suffer from numerous birth defects, such as heart problems, cleft lips, bone malformations, retinal defects, and neurological issues. Since the mothers are generally malnourished, they’re also much smaller and weaker than they should be.
Meth can also inhibit placental blood flow, which means that the fetus is unable to receive an adequate amount of oxygen. This can cause further complications, premature labor or even miscarriage.
The effects of meth on babies don’t just occur during pregnancy. They continue long after they’re born. Since the drug is present in the breast milk of mothers who take it, it’s not advisable for them to breastfeed. If they do, their children can experience further health problems due to increased exposure to methamphetamines.
Later in life, babies can suffer from behavioral problems and learning difficulties, as meth changes their brain chemistry in the same way that it does to those who take it directly.
9. Withdrawal is Incredibly Tough
In order to recover from a meth addiction, users have to go through a withdrawal period.
This can be an incredibly difficult time. Suddenly stopping the use of a drug on which you’ve become dependent triggers some uncomfortable and even painful side effects in the body.
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The withdrawal process usually consists of the following phases:
The First Stage
This stage begins immediately after stopping the use of crystal meth and reaches its peak around 2-3 days later. Symptoms include:
- Bodily aches and pains
- Intense cravings
- Cardiac arrest
These symptoms usually persist for up to 10 days before the next stage begins.
The Second Stage
Once the body has expelled all traces of methamphetamine, addicts can become severely depressed. They lose energy and enthusiasm, are without their usual high, they become less able to experience any kind of pleasure.
Some addicts even become suicidal during this stage of withdrawal. As a result, the majority end up returning to crystal meth and relapsing. Those who are able to continue on their path to sobriety require intensive treatment to keep them on track.
The length and intensity of this stage vary from person to person, as it depends on the severity of the addiction as well as the individual. In most cases, it lasts around thirty days, but it can last up to ninety, or even more.
10. Recovery is Possible
While the outlook for meth addicts may seem bleak, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those who are looking for it.
With the right resources and support, it is possible to recover from addiction and gain control of your life.
Unlike heroin, there is no government-approved drug that is distributed solely to treat addiction to crystal meth. However, there are lots of different treatments out there that can do the job without introducing other drugs.
Inpatient programs provide addicts with a healthy, supportive environment in which to detox from the drug and address their issues. Under the guidance of professionals, they can undergo therapy, attend counseling sessions and join a community of people who are working towards the same goal.
For those who don’t want to stop everything to admit themselves to a hospital or rehab center full-time, there are outpatient programs available. This way, patients can continue with their usual routine and simply make frequent visits to a clinic or facility.
Whichever type of treatment a patient chooses, therapy is essential. This enables them to get to the root of their substance abuse, addressing the reasons why it began in the first place. If you understand why crystal meth was able to take hold of you in the first place, you’re much better equipped to escape it.
11. Relapse is Common
Recovery from addiction is not a linear process, and there will be bumps in the road along the way.
Relapse doesn’t necessarily mean failure. This is one of the most common misconceptions about addiction. It’s a normal part of the process, and it’s entirely possible to pick yourself back up again and resume your recovery after experiencing a relapse.
The process may be longer and more difficult this way, but it’s not impossible. It takes determination and commitment as well as constant support from people around you.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to crystal meth, it’s important that you educate yourself about the dangers of the drug.
Leaning these meth facts can help you to understand how addiction works, but to recover from it, it’s best to seek the help of professionals. There is no substitute for medical treatment, and with a dedicated recovery program, your chances of success are greatly increased.
At Addiction Treatment Services, we can help you to organize an intervention to put a stop to crystal meth use. Then, we can devise a comprehensive program, tailoring everything to your specific needs.
Contact us for a consultation and see how we can help you.