Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine that can cause brain damage and many serious long-term effects. Methamphetamine is a white, bitter-tasting, odorless crystalline powder which dissolves when put in liquid like water or alcohol. It can be smoked through a pipe, injected, or ingested. Typically, crystal meth is a more potent stimulant than other drugs and can have longer-lasting side effects in the central nervous system.
Methamphetamine has many different street names, including speed, chalk, and meth. Methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is inhaled by smoking, can be referred to as crystal, glass, Tina, or ice. Meth labs, which are used to make crystal meth, have been discovered in sheds, storage buildings, and basements, and even in vehicles. Crystal meth is not only illegal, but also dangerous to anyone around it regardless of who is using it. Cooking crystal meth presents an immediate danger because the highly volatile chemicals increase the risk of an explosion. Even if an explosion does not occur, the chemical mix involved can leave chemical burns on your skin or poison you from ingesting the fumes or residue.
The initial effects of crystal meth may include:
- a sudden rush of energy
- extreme sensitivity to environmental stimulation
Dangers of Methamphetamine Addiction
Crystal meth is a highly addictive drug. Meth use causes the body and brain to be flooded with amines (ammonia-based organic compounds), which stay in the body longer. These amines increase alertness, concentration, and energy. Due to the stimulative effects, once meth is tried it is often hard to break away from using it. Meth can also cause damage to a person’s body if used for prolonged periods of time. The dangers of a methamphetamine addiction include:
- Respiratory issues – long periods of crystal meth abuse can cause labored breathing or other respiratory problems.
- Parkinson’s Disease – studies have shown that meth users have a three-fold increase of risk in developing the neurological disorder (addiction to the drug affects the same part of the brain as is associated with Parkinson’s)
- Anorexia – an addict can consume the drug so much, that he/she neglects to consume the nutrients the body requires to survive.
- Stroke – meth can damage the blood vessels within the brain, causing a stroke.
- Convulsions or tremors – extended crystal meth abuse can cause your body to convulse, or you may experience uncontrollable twitches or strong tremors.
- “Meth Mouth” – Meth mouth can occur when an addict has lost some or all teeth and has gum disease.
- Destroyed relationships – when someone becomes addicted to crystal meth, the drug becomes more important than anyone or anything else around them. Friends and family begin to suffer from their loved one’s addiction.
- Crime – As with other hard drugs, those who have been addicted to crystal meth for an extended period often turn to crime to support their drug habit.
- Mood swings – methamphetamine addiction can make someone develop severe emotion volatility. Their mood swings from happy to depressed to angry without warning or reason.
Long-Term Physical Effects of Crystal Meth
Initially, the euphoric feelings mentioned above can increase. However, the beginning “rush” you feel when first using crystal meth will often decrease over time. Once your body builds up a tolerance to the drug, you may begin using more and more to find the high you once felt. As an addict begins to use crystal meth more frequently, adverse side effects occur, such as insomnia, loss of control, and depression. Below are physical and behavioral side effects caused by crystal meth addiction.
Physical Side Effects of Meth Addiction
- Dilated pupils
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dark circles under eyes
- Dry or cracked skin
- Skin sores around the mouth and nose
- Picking at skin sores
- Burn marks around the mouth or on the fingertips
- Tooth decay or loss -“Meth mouth”
- Dry mouth
- A runny nose
- Clenching or grinding of teeth
- Bad breath
- Excessive sweating
- Getting hot easily
- Insomnia or excessive tiredness
- Twitches or tremors
- Seizures – seizures are more likely to occur when mixing crystal meth with other drugs such as alcohol.
Behavioral Side Effects of Meth Addiction
- Ignoring important obligations
- Selling personal possessions to feed the addiction
- Always trying to borrow money from friends and family
- Lying about drug abuse
- Withdrawing from social life
- Changing group of friends
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating or staying on topic
- Talking a lot
- Violence or anger
- Anxiety attacks
Crystal Meth Overdose
Overdose is a common side effect of methamphetamine users who have eventually built up a tolerance to the drug. Below are some symptoms of a methamphetamine overdose.
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Abnormal heart rate
- High body temperature
- Trouble breathing
- Kidney damage or failure
- Severe stomach pain
Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction
When a meth addict chooses to get clean, addiction treatment is the best possible solution. There are many treatment options available depending on your needs.
Outpatient treatment is available if you would rather be closer to home so you can stay in contact with your family. Once you have completed your detox stage, your treatment plan may change so you can live in your own home. If you choose outpatient treatment, you still receive medical care, counseling and education just as you would if you decided to receive inpatient care.
When choosing outpatient care, it is beneficial to have an accountability partner to help you stay on the right path. With time, you may become strong enough to handle your recovery process on your own. Some individuals can go through their whole recovery process without an accountability partner; however, some people find that the extra confidence from friends or family helps to avoid any setbacks or relapses.
Another form of treatment is an inpatient treatment program. Inpatient treatment, also known as residential treatment, is for those who want to leave their current environment and remove themselves from the stress and temptation of using again. Withdrawal symptoms can cause intense cravings and make you feel vulnerable, causing a relapse. Having many different influential individuals available to lean on for support is one of the most significant advantages an addict can have during the recovery process.
Addiction is a disease (known as substance use disorder) and recovering from crystal meth addiction takes time. As addiction did not form overnight, recovery does not happen overnight, either. Serenity Acres is a place where you can be cared for and receive the treatment and education you need to successfully recover from addiction.