In 2008, the United States government reported that 13 million people above age 12 have used methamphetamine and the United States Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that 500 metric tons of crystal meth are produced yearly. These numbers are startling.
Meth is classified as a stimulant because this drug significantly increases wakefulness, physical activity, and produces a lot of dopamine –which induced pleasure—in the brain. However, those are the short term, immediate side effects, and they wear off soon enough to prompt the user to continuously inject or inhale the meth into their body to maintain the effects. Long-term side effects are not so appealing and involve extreme weight loss, horrible teeth decay, anxiety, paranoia, and in extreme cases, hallucinations.
But that’s not all. Meth, like many other illegal substances, is highly addictive due to the effects of meth on dopamine release in the brain. Anything involving dopamine, especially one that increases dopamine significantly, will be addictive. Now people are addicted to water, but the difference between water and meth is that meth had adverse long-term side effects and can lead to overdose. Quitting meth causes withdrawal symptoms:
- Intense cravings
Kidney failure, stroke, or heart attack can result from an overdose of meth. In 2016, an estimated 7,663 people died from a meth overdose.
These all pose reasons to look out for symptoms of meth use amongst loved ones to ensure that they receive the proper help to avoid addiction and overdose. Thankfully, there are signs of meth use that can prevent a tragedy like death from occurring. Long-term side effects include hyperactivity, weight loss, teeth decay, aggression dilated pupils, and an overall twitchiness. What causes these behavioral changes is the way meth destroys nerves in the brain that are involved with dopamine. Short term sides effects to look for when someone is still feeling the effects of meth in their system are decreased appetite, increased breathing, irregular heartbeat, confusion, chest pain, agitation, flushed skin, and paranoia.
Some people may have already heard about the changes that happen to a person who has used meth for years. Their physical appearance changes. Their skin starts showing advanced aging signs with wrinkles and bags under the eyes and “pick” sores on their faces. The teeth look black and brown from the smoke inhalation. Arms may have needle or “track” marks. Overall, there are a lot of signs out there that a loved one may be using crystal meth.
If you know someone exhibiting these signs, especially a majority of these signs all at once, please ask them to seek professional help. They may not listen or become avoidant at first, but if you show no judgment and that you intend to help rather than hurt them, then they have a higher likelihood of warming up to the idea of seeking treatment. Laying out all the problems discussed here may be enough to convince them to put a stop to their meth use.
Asana Recovery provides full detox services and residential treatment programs. They understand the psychological struggles that users experience when trying to quit a substance or overcome the adverse effects of drug use, so they provide a supportive, calming environment to help the individual overcome their addiction. Call Asana Recovery at 949-438-4504 to learn more about their treatment programs.