Signs and Symptoms of Meth Abuse

symptoms of meth abuse

Methamphetamine is a stimulant also commonly referred to as “meth”, “ice”, or “crystal meth”. It commonly comes in two forms: crystal meth and powdered meth. Meth can be injected, smoked, snorted, eaten, or dissolved in a drink. The risk of meth abuse after even one usage has been shown to be high. Once a meth addiction has taken hold, the person will require professional treatment in order to detox from the drug and begin recovery. However, the signs and symptoms of meth abuse can be noticeable if you are aware of what to look for. 

Using meth gives a person a rush of energy and a false sense of positive feelings. Meth causes the brain to release dopamine, which feels pleasurable. The effect can last anywhere from a few hours to more than 12 hours. When crashing after the effects of a meth binge have worn off, many people end up sleeping for prolonged periods.

Repetitive use of methamphetamines causes the dopamine storage in the brain to decrease, which negatively impacts the natural way the dopamine receptors act. Addiction to meth occurs when the natural supply of dopamine stops production. Users develop an addictive need for the replacement feelings provided by meth abuse. 


Signs and Symptoms of Meth Abuse


Meth abuse results from the fact that methamphetamines are highly addictive. Common signs of abuse of meth include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Skin sores
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Burns, including around the lips and fingers
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Facial tics
  • Twitching and shaking
  • Difficulty sleepy or excessive sleeping
  • Hyperactivity
  • Feeling agitated and easily angered
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Meth abuse can cause a person to “tweak”. After a person has binged on meth for a long period of time, they may find it difficult to achieve the high they are used to getting. Tweaking consists of insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, confused thinking, and mood swings. Some people become violent during these episodes, which last from a few days to two weeks. 

If you suspect someone you know may be involved in meth abuse or production, one sign may revolve around their retreating to a private place. Meth production labs can be home-based or set up in a separate location. Manufacturers often look for rural areas or abandoned homes and buildings in which to set up a lab. A location once used for meth production often becomes unusable, even after the drug ceases to be cooked there. This owes to the noxious and dangerous fumes and chemicals released during manufacturing.


Easily Produced Methamphetamine Contributes to Its Widespread Availability


One thing that contributes to the popularity and wide availability of meth relates to how easily it can be manufactured. Anyone familiar with the television show Breaking Bad witnessed how a school teacher taught himself to create meth and became a wealthy and popular drug dealer. 

Meth can be made using easily procured household items. The key ingredient in meth is ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. These can be found in many non-prescription cold medications. In an effort to stem homemade production of meth, many stores and pharmacies now store their medicines with ephedrine and pseudoephedrine behind the counter. They often require customers to present proof of age and limit the number of packages they can purchase at one time. 

Making meth involves cooking it, which generates a high risk of danger. Highly toxic ingredients and the resulting fumes, coupled with inexperienced meth makers, often result in physical injury and death. Explosions in meth labs are common, making it possible for surrounding property to be damaged and people to be hurt or killed. 


Meth Abuse Can Stem From Many Causes


Medical professionals have spent a lot of time and testing studying the root causes of addiction to drugs and alcohol. A singular answer does not explain all addictive behaviors, but studies show a few common causes.

Genetics often factor into the development of meth abuse. A person who has a relative who deals with addiction has an increased risk of developing their own addiction. This ties into environmental causes, too. An individual who grows up living with a family member who has a substance use disorder proves more likely to misuse or abuse drugs or alcohol themselves. 

A parent or other close family member who does not have healthy coping skills may turn to addictive substances to cope with life. If this person finds they are unable to teach their child or close relative healthy coping mechanisms, it becomes more likely the child will grow up to rely on drugs and alcohol as an alternative. 

Underlying mental illnesses often accompany addiction. A person with an undiagnosed, untreated, or under-treated mental health condition may utilize drugs and alcohol as a salve. Many people turn to meth abuse to self-medicate and compensate for symptoms of things like depression, anxiety, and trauma.


Addiction Treatment in Southern California


If you or someone you love suffers from an addiction to methamphetamines, we can help. Gratitude Lodge offers multiple treatment programs to help people struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol. We provide inpatient, outpatient, and detox services, as well as treat co-occurring mental health issues. Contact us here for more information about our Southern California location and get started on recovery today.


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