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Signs Of Meth Use

The physical toll that crystal methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, takes on users makes it among the most harrowing of all drugs on the American street market. The substance belongs to a larger class of intoxicating and mind altering substances known as amphetamines.

Although some forms and derivatives of amphetamines come with legitimate medical uses in the treatment of conditions like narcolepsy and attention deficit disorder - hence their classification under the Controlled Substances Act as Schedule II drugs - meth is considered to be an illegal drug that is commonly produced in illicit underground meth labs.

On the street, however, crystal meth is often referred to as d-methamphetamine HCl. As the name suggests, it comes in the form of crystals which can be crushed before being consumed through injection, snorting, smoking, and orally.

Understanding Meth Use

Meth is a stimulant substance that goes by a variety of names on the street, such as speed, ice, and chalk. It is similar in a variety ways - including its chemical makeup - to amphetamine, the drug that is often used in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

However, meth is incredibly addictive and highly potent. Due to its increasing availability, some people wonder whether they can tell that someone is intoxicated on its effects.

From the 2012 NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health), it was found that 1.2 million Americans had abused the drug over the preceding 12 months. 440,000 of the study respondents also reported that they had used meth in the past month.

Today, the drug is available in a variety of forms and can be abused in different ways - including smoking, orally, injection, and snorting. However, snorting meth tends to be the most popular mode of use for people who are looking for its pleasurable effects.

When you smoke or inject meth, it will act faster and create a near-immediate rush. This rush could last for a couple of minutes but users have described it as an extremely pleasurable experience. On the other hand, if you abuse meth through snorting or by taking it orally, the high will not be as intense as with the other modes of use.

When people are intoxicated by meth, it usually increases the dopamine amount in their brain - a chemical neurotransmitter that is responsible for a variety of natural feelings, such as pleasure and motivation.

That said, using meth might lead to a severe addiction to the substance. This is why such abuse is a great problem across the United States - affecting both individuals and families as well as anyone who comes in contact with users. In the same way, abusing the drug creates a variety of serious health concerns as well as - in some cases - fatal consequences. This is why it is so important to always look out for the common signs of meth use.

As you continue abusing the drug, you might display several signs that are indicative of your drug dependency. In most cases, meth addiction manifests itself in various physical forms - from hyperactivity and sleeplessness to rotting teeth. As such, it might not be too difficult for you to tell that a loved one has been using the drug.

Apart from trying to find out if someone is on the drug or if they use it often, you need to understand what the drug looks like. This way, you will be able to look for definitive signs of substance abuse if you come across the crystals.

In most cases, meth is sold in the form of a crystalline white powder that is odorless, easily dissolves in water, and tastes bitter. However, it might also be available in a variety of colors, including yellow gray, pink, and brown. On the other hand, crystal meth usually appears as clear crystals which look like normal ice.

Signs Of Meth Abuse

Meth addiction causes a wide variety of behavioral, psychological, and physical reactions. Although some people might consider these adverse effects to be an allergic reaction to the drug, they are - in most cases - the ordinary, usual effects of such a drug addiction.

The drug also adversely influences every inch of the brain and body, creating various identifiable symptoms that you can easily identify. Read on to find out more:

Physical Signs Of Meth Use

One of the unfortunate realities of consistent substance abuse is the fact that others might not be able to realize that it is happening until it is too late and the user gets to the addiction phase.

However, meth is different in the sense that it comes with such clear signs and symptoms that it shouldn't be too hard for you to tell that a loved one is addicted to it. In fact, the usual physical signs of regular meth use are likely to make themselves manifest whether you are new to the substance or you have already become dependent on it.

These signs and symptoms may include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • A thinning and frail body
  • Bad breath
  • Blackened and rotting teeth, commonly referred to as meth mouth
  • Broken teeth, which could be as a result of the tooth-grinding that meth induces
  • Burns, particularly on the fingers and lips
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dramatic increases in body temperature
  • Droopy quality on the skin on your face
  • Extreme perspiration
  • Facial sores and acne
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased libido
  • Intense scratching
  • Sores on the skin from picking
  • Irregular breathing patterns
  • Nosebleeds
  • Premature skin aging
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sores that tend to heal slower than usual
  • Sudden/ severe weight loss
  • Track marks all along the arms

Meth can also increase your libido - which could potentially dispose you to a variety of sexually transmitted diseases. From the neurological level, abusing the drug might stimulate your sexual arousal and increase the levels of adrenaline required to provide the stamina required for sexual interaction.

When you combine these physical effects to the lowered inhibitions commonly associated with crystal meth, it is easy to see why people who abuse this drug also have a high likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior - such as having unprotected sex.

On the other hand, since many users tend to inject the drug, the population is also at great risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C. When these diseases are contracted through intravenous meth use, they may also be spread to other people through engaging in unsafe sexual practices.

Apart from these symptoms of meth abuse and addiction, some users may also experience severe and - sometimes - life-threatening physical problems like liver failure, heart attacks, and seizures. In case you experience any of these, it is imperative that you get emergency medical attention otherwise they may lead to sudden death.

Psychological Signs Of Meth Use

Apart from the physical effects described and listed above, crystal meth is also linked to many psychological effects. When you abuse the drug, it will initially create a feeling of intense euphoria by increasing the levels and amounts of dopamine inside the brain.

Dopamine is among the main chemical messengers the brain uses in its reward mechanisms. Therefore, abusing drugs like meth could activate this reward circuitry and increase the potential for tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

However, dopamine has other brain functions apart from creating feelings and sensations of pleasure only. It is also linked to learning ability and memory. As a direct result, abusing meth over the long haul may continually flood your brain with dopamine and create imbalances in the natural levels of the chemical. This may affect the operations that dopamine influences.

In the long term, therefore, abusing meth may create memory problems as well as difficulty in learning new motor skills. It might also impair your visual memory and create psychosis for some users.

Some of the features of psychosis that is induced by crystal meth include irritability, paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions. Psychosis also creates a host of physical side effects, chief of which is the intense scratching that many meth users engage in.

In particular, experiencing meth-induced psychosis might also make you feel like you have bugs crawling all over your skin. To relieve this affliction and perception, you might engage in constant skin picking and scratching. This could result in skin rashes and abrasions.

Meth might also lead to tweaking, where you experience intense insomnia for 3 to 15 days. During this time, you might engage in a binge pattern of use, where you continue abusing the drug to try and recreate the original pleasurable effects that you got when you first used meth.

Tweaking, however, comes with a variety of psychological side effects, including but not limited to confusion, irritability, and paranoia. The condition can also cause rapid eye movements, which should be easily visible to you when you talk to someone who is undergoing it. Additionally, the affected individual might talk in a jumbled and fast manner and/or walk with jerky motions. While in this state, they may also be prone to criminal behavior - including but not limited to violence.

The other psychological signs of meth use, abuse, and addiction, include but are not limited to:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Belief that you have insects and bugs crawling under your skin, which could lead to meth sores
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Fidgeting
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia

Behavioral Signs Of Meth Use

Irrespective of your drug or preference - whether it is meth or any other intoxicating and mind altering substance - drug use can rapidly change from a recreational activity to a major priority in your life. However, once you get to a point where drugs are a priority, it will only be a matter of time before relationship, school, and work problems arise.

In the initial stages of your crystal meth use, you may try to hide the fact that you are abusing the drug. Eventually, however, this might no longer matter to you because the drug will have consumed you to such an extent that you no longer care what other people might be thinking about you.

As a direct result, this self-involvement and meth obsession - especially when it starts affecting other important responsibilities, obligations, and relationships, are among the strong behavioral signs of meth abuse and addiction.

If you are concerned, however, you might not want to approach a loved one you suspect is using the drug - unless, of course, you have some evidence. This means that family members, friends, and other concerned parties might decide to instead look for meth-related paraphernalia.

Although finding the drug and its associated paraphernalia might seem like the best sign, you need to combine it with other signs - which could prove that the evidence is so compelling that the problem cannot be ignored. Some of these paraphernalia might include baggies - small, self-fastening bags or even cheaper options like corners of sandwich bags.

That said, the paraphernalia will largely depend on the common mode of use - injection, smoking, snorting, or by mouth. Consider the following:

a) Smoking Paraphernalia

These may include melted or chipped gutted light bulbs, glass tubes, hollowed out pens, short straws, torch lighters, and aluminum foil strips. Users might smoke the drug by setting it on aluminum before heating it and sucking at the resulting smoke through cylindrical implements like glass tubes, hollowed out pens, or straws. They might also just smoke it through a pipe.

b) Snorting Paraphernalia

Users who snort it will have implements like hollowed out pens, rolled bills, and straws.

c) Intravenous Use Paraphernalia

On the other hand, those who use the drug intravenously/via injection may have spoons (used to heat and liquefy the drug), arm bands, and syringes.

Other behavioral signs of meth abuse include:

  • Clumsiness due to a decrease in fine motor skills
  • Criminality, including stealing and prostitution to get money for meth
  • Displaying an abnormal twitch or tic
  • Distracted behavior during social situations
  • Erratic sleep patterns, including hypersomnia and insomnia
  • Extreme loss in appetite
  • Forgetting important events, times, and dates
  • High energy
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased violence and aggression
  • Isolating themselves
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Neglecting relationships
  • Obsessive focus on particular tasks and issue
  • Risky financial behavior, including cashing out their savings to get the drug
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Sudden changes in the social groups they spend their time with

Find Resources

If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.

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