Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that can alter a person’s reality and incur serious health implications. It’s a nasty and unpredictable drug that can completely change a person for the worse. It’s also extremely common and more available than many of us like to think.
Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the U.S. It has its origins in 19th century Germany and was initially used for medicinal and military purposes. Over the last three decades, crystal meth has experienced a renewed popularity and has become a serious problem all over the country.
The Midwest has seen some of the worst activity; there are plenty of rural areas in farming communities that are remote enough for criminals to set up labs. These labs aren’t exactly the sterile white coat environments a lot of people associate with the word. They’rechemically filled huts with just enough crude material to produce methamphetamine.
This is a scary concept. Almost anything could be going into that drug, and the chemical reactions make it even more dangerous, not to mention the volatility of the labs themselves. All it takes is one wrong move to blowup a section of a neighborhood. These labs aren’t always located in remote locations. Plenty of people try to set them up in their basements or in abandoned homes in larger cities.
The chemical contamination is enough to warrant a quarantine of the affected area. With the lack of control and unpredictable nature of crystal meth, it’s hard to understand why anyone would become addicted.
Unfortunately, families from all walks of life are battling crystal meth addiction. If you’re worried that someone you care about is using crystal meth, there are physical and mental signs that can signal an addiction to the powerful drug.
How Meth Impacts the Body
Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant that causes the body to release adrenaline and floods the brain with chemicals that can cause euphoria and hyperactivity. This can raise the heart rate, increase body temperature, and lead to uncontrollable tics and tremors.
Someone who’s on crystal meth may not show detrimental signs at first. You may notice an increase in their energy level, a disproportionate attention to detail, and serious mood swings. The longer they use the drug, the more physical symptoms start to appear.
A lot of us have heard the term “meth mouth.” It describes the advanced tooth decay experienced by a lot of crystal meth addicts, which has to do with poor hygiene, dry mouth, and serious malnutrition. You can also expect to see substantial weight loss in a short period of time, sores on the face or limbs, thinning hair, and dry and patchy skin.
Crystal meth addiction can take someone who was vibrant and healthy and turn them into a frail and emaciated version of who they used to be.
Behaviors to Look for
Any type of stimulant can have a huge impact on the brain and thought process. Crystal meth is extremely potent because it’s unregulated and made in so many different ways. The stimulant effects give users an immediate rush of energy and euphoria. This can lead to overconfidence and risky behaviors.
When a person is addicted to crystal meth, you’ll notice an extreme change to their behavioral pattern. This can include things like:
- Prolonged insomnia
- Rapid speech
- Grandiose ideas and delusions
- Periods of sudden and extreme rage
- Multiple relationships
- Risky sexual behaviors
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Constant picking at skin
- Nervous gestures
- An inability to sustain attention
The first time a person smokes, injects, or snorts crystal meth, they may feel really good. There’s a sense of euphoria, well-being, and increased energy that can seem like a positive effect. It can be hard for them to understand why a drug that made them feel like this can turn into something so awful.
It doesn’t take long for the mixture of sleep deprivation and chemical depletion in the brain to take over. The addict will start to depend on the drug to keep them going when they’re exhausted—this can cause psychosis by itself. The more that the body changes, the more associated behaviors will become prevalent.
Avoiding Confrontation and Getting Help
If you believe that a friend or loved one is experiencing crystal meth addiction, it’s a good idea to speak to a professional before confronting them. People who’ve been using crystal meth for a long time tend to be unpredictable and even dangerous. They may fly off the handle for no reason and can become violent.
They may also be paranoid and refuse to talk to you about anything. Addicts will often withdraw from the “sober” people in their lives and surround themselves with other users. This gives them a constant supply of drugs and helps them to justify their continued use. This behavior only widens the gap and makes it even more difficult to approach them.
Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re forced to confront them by yourself, away from a public area. An intervention led by an addiction professional can help. This brings everyone who cares about the addict to one place and controls the confrontation. They’re also more likely to get help if they can see the way that their behavior has impacted the people around them.
Treating crystal meth addiction usually requires intense inpatient therapy and a detox period that allows the body to stabilize. Withdrawals can include extreme fatigue and emotional distress, making it even more important to have access to professional counseling.
Whether you’re addicted to crystal meth or trying to care for someone who is, it’s important to remember that addiction isn’t the end. Getting treatment gives you the opportunity to restart your life and to rebuild relationships.