Signs of Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine is a substance that can turn someone’s life inside out in a short period. The drug’s use has skyrocketed in recent years. The National Institute on Drug Abuse noted that in 2016, as many as 1.6 million people admitted to using meth.
It’s likely that this figure has increased significantly since then. Because of its rising usage, its important to know for yourself the signs of meth addiction.
Recent events have spurred users of other drugs to experiment with meth, resulting in more overdose deaths and hospitalizations as a result.
The biggest issue surrounding meth as far as families are concerned is how insidious it is. Many families don’t even realize their loved ones suffer from meth dependence and addiction until it’s too late.
However, if a person knows what they’re looking for, it might be easy to tell that you have a loved one who’s doing crystal meth. Several behavioral signs of meth addiction exist that show up when someone starts using the drug regularly.
Physical signs of meth addiction usually accompany these behavioral changes and may be enough to determine whether someone is using the substance or not.
Meth’s impact on a person’s life can be swift and terrible. Knowing a family member is struggling with addiction gives you forewarning so that you can do something about it, or at least come to them and help them figure a way out of this trap of addiction.
What is Meth Addiction?
Meth is an addictive substance because of the effect it has on the body. When someone takes meth, they get a flood of dopamine into the brain. Usually, dopamine is supposed to be released sparingly.
Small amounts enter the brain when a person completes something they were trying to do or accomplishes some goal. Meth short-circuits the reward pathway, allowing a person to get feelings of well-being and euphoria without accomplishing anything.
This shortcut also removes the impetus to do anything, leading to a person feeling lethargic and purposeless.
What’s more, as a stimulant, meth speeds up a person’s heart rate and forces their body to use more energy.
This manic burst of activity combined with the feeling of well-being makes users think they’re being more active and pushes them to use the substance again and again.
With each use, the brain builds tolerance, and the person will need to take more to get the same effect.
In this way, meth reprograms the brain to need more dopamine – a process known as dependence. When someone becomes dependent on a substance, their brain can’t function without the chemical present.
Dependence is usually the first step towards addiction, although these problems are classified differently. Dependence is a physical need for a substance within the body.
Addiction is a brain disease that makes people do things they wouldn’t do under normal circumstances to satiate their dependency. The typical signs and symptoms that pop up when someone is on meth can clue someone in to the presence of the drug in their loved one’s life.
How to Know If Someone is Addicted to Meth
Meth addiction usually follows from dependency and is much easier to spot than regular use. A person who is addicted to meth will start acting strange around family and loved ones.
There are several obvious behavioral signs of meth addiction, including manic energy followed by periods of lethargy, intense scratching.
If the person uses needles for their consumption, needle tracks will be evident on their skin at their extremities, and more self-conscious individuals will start wearing long sleeves and pants to cover them up.
The increase in energy that meth brings about may also be seen in users’ rapid speaking and short tempers.
When someone starts using meth regularly, it erodes their teeth and leaves them with a pale complexion. They will often have sores on their body that will stick around for a while since the body has a hard time healing them.
Someone who takes meth will lose weight because they won’t eat anything, and their metabolism will go through the roof. It’s not uncommon to see regular users looking emaciated as a result of their drug use.
Shaking and twitchiness will accompany their usage, and they may display signs of excessive sweating. The physical signs of meth addiction are much easier to spot the more dependent a person gets on the drug.
The critical point where addiction shows up is when the person starts skipping family gatherings and their obligations to seek out the substance.
First Signs of Meth Addiction
When someone first becomes addicted to the substance, a handful of early signs will signal their dependence immediately. These include:
- Lack of Sleep for massive amounts of time: usually, the user will stay awake for days, depriving themselves of sleep because of the manic energy of the drug in their system.
- Periods of high activity: During waking hours, they will be spending much time doing tasks and seeming very helpful.
- Loss of appetite: Accompanying the periods of massive activity is a low drive to eat. The result is a noticeable amount of weight loss over a short period.
- Sweating, even though they aren’t doing any strenuous activity: Meth increases the body’s metabolism and heats up the body internally. This increase in internal temperature prompts sweating, even when the person isn’t doing anything to warrant it.
- Nervous or anxious behavior: This behavior may present itself at any time and may include twitching and nervous tics that might not have been present before.
These early warning signs may not be enough to stop someone from becoming addicted to the substance, but they will inform others that they are dependent on it. From here, a family may need to seek out other clues as to whether their loved one is addicted to the substance or not.
Other Warning Signs of Meth Addiction
In addition to those early signs of meth addiction, several other hints may suggest that the person is addicted to the substance. Other typical signs of meth addiction include:
- Drastic change in physical appearance: A user will neglect their physical appearance and may appear shabby and poorly dressed, even when they shouldn’t be. Constant meth use will also impact the user’s teeth, rotting them.
- Behavioral changes: In addition to the early signs of meth addiction, behavioral differences are more pronounced in later stages. The early signs are accompanied by lying, stealing, and giving up activities they once had.
- Mood changes: The user is likely to display bouts of hyperactivity, irritability, anxiety, paranoia, and violent outbursts.
- Tweaking: In later stages of addiction, a user may display signs of “tweaking.” When people are tweaking, they typically show symptoms of insomnia and anxiety lasting over an extended period (more than three days).
- Paraphernalia: When a person realizes someone knows they’re using the substance, they don’t bother to hide their paraphernalia anymore. A loved one may likely encounter burned spoons, discarded syringes, etc., more often as the addiction gets worse and they stop caring if anyone finds out.
- Social and Economic Problems: The height of addiction is when the person’s performance at school or their job starts to suffer. They drop out of school or get fired. This shirking of responsibility leads to massive financial issues since they can no longer maintain themselves financially. They may also face several legal issues because of their zeal in acquiring the drug.
When a loved one is addicted to meth, there are ways that they can get help. However, these methods require that the person realize they have a problem and actively want to overcome it.
When they get to the point of realizing that their addiction is doing more harm than good to them, it may be time to seek out meth addiction treatment centers for advice and support in recovery.
Meth Addiction Treatment Centers
Meth addiction treatment centers are places where someone seeking to leave their dependence on meth behind can come for support. Most facilities will start with a scheduled visit where the recovering person will answer a few questions.
Psychologists on staff will be present to create a profile of the person’s mental state and figure out any co-occurring issues they may have to deal with.
These questions are essential to creating a personalized treatment plan for the patient. Addiction is a very personal problem, and it usually requires individual treatment to leave it behind. Once the patient has completed the initial assessment, they can enter detox.
The first step in breaking addiction is cutting ties with the physical dependence that the person has on the drug. The best method of doing so is by initiating a controlled withdrawal.
When a person goes through withdrawal for meth, they are likely to experience a few symptoms. The body fights against breaking that dependence, developing these symptoms that urge the person to seek out and take the drug again.
The most common symptoms of meth withdrawal include:
- Anxiety: Meth withdrawal leads to anxiety, which may persist for much longer than other symptoms.
- Depression: Losing the dopamine high that meth offers create depression in a person who feels like they will never be happy again.
- Lethargy and Fatigue: A side effect of no longer having meth to power manic activity, the body tries to recoup its energy loss, leading to the person feeling sleepy and lethargic through the recovery process.
- Psychosis: This psychosis is presented as hallucinations or delusions. They are similar to what someone may experience while being high on meth.
- Increased appetite: To make up for the loss of body mass, the body will start craving carbs and other energy-heavy foods. This increased appetite may continue for a few days.
Detox breaks the physical dependence on the drug and may last for as long as a week. Long-term withdrawal symptoms (such as anxiety) may extend for as long as a month.
Detox sets the stage for the rest of the treatment process, aiming to break a person’s psychological dependence on the drug.
When a person finished detox, they have the choice of inpatient or outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment is helpful in extreme cases but can be expensive.
In an inpatient facility, a patient is kept away from society, allowing the recovering person to focus on overcoming their addiction. They stay at the facility and pay for room and board there.
This approach helps limit the chance of falling back into use through their environment or other people who might encourage them. The downside of these facilities is that they can’t hold down their job or interact socially with friends or family members while here.
Outpatient facilities are slightly different. They offer the same therapy sessions as inpatient treatment but don’t require that the patient stays at the facility.
This approach offers a lot more responsibility to the recovering person and costs a lot less because there’s no need to cover fees for room and board.
The downside is that the recovering individual may be exposed to the same stimuli that led them to use the substance in the first place. There’s also the added responsibility of coming to their scheduled therapy sessions on time.
Missing sessions is a sign that a person might be falling back into drug use. An outpatient approach does allow a person to stay socially active, however. They can even go to their job as usual, once they appear for their appointments.
Choosing the Right Meth Addiction Recovery Facility
Meth addiction recovery can be challenging, but choosing the proper support for your recovery is crucial to its success. At The Discovery House, we offer a trained staff that’s helped with hundreds of patients’ recoveries.
We dedicate ourselves to finding an individual approach that allows each person who visits our facility. Our medical staff helps with detox, and our therapists provide the support patients need to overcome their dependency.
Each journey to recovery is unique and requires a personalized approach. Come to a place that deals with your recovery as that of an individual. Contact us today to schedule your initial visit and get started.