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Crystal meth is a form of the drug d-methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant drug.
Meth produces long-lasting euphoria, and it is typically smoked or snorted. The drug is often manufactured in makeshift home labs using pseudoephedrine (a medication commonly found in cold medicines), batteries, drain cleaner, antifreeze, and other dangerous ingredients.
Crystal meth, or meth, goes by a number of street names including:
What does meth look like?
Meth looks like small bluish white rocks or shards of glass.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NID), in 2017:
NIDA also estimates that 10,000 people died from overdoses involving psychostimulants such as methamphetamine in 2017 alone.
According to a study in the Journal of the America Medical Association, meth use saw a huge resurgence as America struggled to control the opioid epidemic. Amphetamine-related hospitalizations rose nearly 250% from 2008 to 2015, and the cost of those hospitalizations skyrocketed from $436 million in 2003 to more than $2 billion in 2015.
The high brought on by meth may include the following short-term effects:
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that crystal meth is highly addictive and extremely dangerous. It is a powerful stimulant that results in massive increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of reward and motivation. The increase in dopamine elicited by methamphetamine makes the user feel good and encourages repeat use.
While dopamine is released via natural activities too (e.g., working out), the dopamine release from methamphetamine far surpasses that of the natural reward, making the natural reward pale in comparison.
Chronic methamphetamine abuse may result in persistent problems that could include:
Psychotic symptoms may also be brought on by chronic meth use. These may include:
Methamphetamine-induced psychosis can last beyond the point where a person stops using the drugs. These symptoms may even last years after the last use. Stress may trigger the onset of psychotic symptoms in someone who suffered these symptoms while using the drug.
With repeated use, a person can become tolerant to methamphetamine. When tolerance grows, a person requires more and more meth to experience the kind of high that they’re used to. They may have to take the drug more often or change their method of use (e.g., begin injecting it) to try and achieve the high they’re looking for.
With continued meth use, the person may start experiencing an inability to find pleasure from other activities, propelling their drug use. As meth use continues, the person may develop a physical dependence on it, meaning they’ll need to use it to feel normal. Without it, they may go into withdrawal.
Meth abuse affects a person’s physical and mental health in numerous ways. Signs of meth abuse may include the following:
Signs of a methamphetamine addiction, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) include:
Other signs may include:
Co-occurring disorders refers to the coexistence of a substance use disorder and another mental health disorder. Methamphetamine abuse may increase the likelihood of the development of certain mental health issues.
For example, research has shown that depressive symptoms and disorders are commonly associated with meth use.
Chronic meth users are also at risk of developing psychotic symptoms that are severe and that may recur. In fact, one Australian study of meth users found that, among the sample, 23% had experienced symptoms of psychosis in the prior year.
Meth users may also be at an increasing risk of developing severe anxiety. Another study out of Australia found that, of 301 chronic amphetamine users, more than 3/4 of them reported having severe anxiety and more than 1/3 began having panic attacks after starting to use methamphetamine.
Depressive symptoms may lead to suicidal thoughts, which are considered to be the biggest cause for concern for someone crashing from or otherwise withdrawing from stimulants like meth. Getting professional help during withdrawal can ensure that you are monitored around the clock in a safe environment.
Withdrawal from methamphetamine may be very uncomfortable but is unlikely to be particularly dangerous, unlike the withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines.
Withdrawal from methamphetamine begins quickly, within a few hours. The withdrawal syndrome from crystal meth includes:
Acute withdrawal tends to last about 7-10 days after an individual discontinues use of the drug. Some symptoms, such as cravings and depressive symptoms, may persist over several weeks.
Addiction to meth is a disease that requires professional treatment in a high-quality, accredited addiction treatment program.
Treatment often begins with detox, where certain medications may be given to help relieve some of the symptoms of withdrawal. After detox, the therapeutic portion of treatment is at the core of the process. Rehab involves a structured daily schedule of classes, group therapy, drug education, and study/reflection time. Alternative and holistic therapies may also be utilized to help you learn new ways of expressing and coping with negative emotions.
Often, rehab is a starting point for involvement in some form of recovery group, such as a 12-Step program (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous), that you are encouraged to continue once you leave treatment.
Should you suffer from a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression, find a facility, such as Laguna Treatment Hospital, that is equipped to treat co-occurring disorders. When only the meth addiction is treated and other issues are ignored, you may be more prone to relapse outside of treatment, especially if using meth had become your primary coping skill for dealing with your mental health symptoms.
If you’re worried about the cost of meth addiction treatment, consider that your insurance may cover you. Many programs will accept at least some insurance policies on an in-network basis. If you do not have insurance or are not in-network, you may be able to look into options such as financing or loans, or even government-sponsored treatment programs.
Meth addiction can ravage your life, but there is a way back. With treatment, you can rediscover the person you were meant to be and find a renewed sense of peace. Learn more about how Laguna Treatment Hospital in Orange County, CA can help you leave addiction behind you.