Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth, or methamphetamine, is a highly addictive stimulant. It usually takes the form of white or cloudy crystals or powder. The most common ways to use crystal meth are by snorting it, smoking it or even using a needle to inject it into the bloodstream.

In the United States alone, more than 13 million people aged 12 and over have reported using crystal meth, while over half a million are regular users. This is a very powerful, very dangerous drug because it induces a false sense of euphoria and gives users a huge boost of energy, while cutting back their appetite. It’s highly addictive and can be deadly with continued use. Many users report that the drug takes over their lives in a very short amount of time.

Signs of Addiction

Signs of crystal meth addiction are very similar to those of other amphetamines or stimulants. Even casual users or first-time users can become addicted very easily. If you think someone you love may be suffering from addiction to crystal meth, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Heightened energy
  • Extreme weight loss in a short amount of time
  • Lack of sleep
  • Periods of euphoria followed by intense depression
  • Heightened respiration and heart rate
  • Increased body temperature

Even those who do not consider themselves addicts may exhibit signs of addiction, including the inability to stop taking crystal meth, or putting themselves or others in danger in order to find and procure more. Many tell themselves and others that they can stop, not realizing that they are already in the throes of crystal meth addiction.

Side Effects

Crystal meth is one of the most damaging street drugs available simply because of the potency of its side effects. They can manifest themselves very quickly, sometimes within just weeks or days after first use. They can be physical, mental or as is most common, a combination of both.

Some side effects of crystal meth usage include:

  • Repetitive motions or tics
  • Psychosis, usually hallucinations and paranoia
  • Heightened aggression
  • Severe decrease in oral health
  • Physical changes in brain structure, permanently affecting brain function
  • Intense mood swings
  • Loss of memory
  • Skin damage from picking or scratching

These are all very dangerous side effects. Long-term addiction to crystal meth often results in widespread infection from self-inflicted wounds, inadequate hygiene and lack of medical attention. Many users suffer permanent dental damage. The effects on the brain, however, are the most lasting, as this is a drug that physically changes the way the brain works and processes information.

Even recovered crystal meth addicts deal with the repercussions of their drug abuse for the rest of their lives.

Seeking Treatment

Because of its highly addictive and destructive nature, it’s nearly impossible to treat crystal meth addiction on your own. Professional help is one of the most effective and often only routes available. There are currently no medications available to treat crystal meth addiction, but drug rehab centers are effective through other means.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one way for users to understand more about why they use, and helps to identify the triggers that cause them to turn to crystal meth. It also helps to establish plans for avoiding further usage, including establishing a support network. For full recovery, a support network is one of the most important things. It may take the form of a 12-step program, family education meetings or simply keeping in contact with others who have gone through similar trials.

First Steps to Recovery

As with all addiction, the first step to recovering from crystal meth addiction is the desire to do so. If an individual is adamant about not wanting to change, nothing you can say or do will make them. To that end, telling a person they have a problem will be much less effective than them admitting to themselves and others that they do, and that they want and need help.

No one is able to recover fully from such a dangerous addiction without the support and help of their loved ones, in conjunction with trained professionals in a safe and drug-free environment.

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