Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or simply meth, is an addictive stimulant that can destroy the lives of those who use it and their loved ones. People who develop an addiction to methamphetamine commonly begin with experimentation or to alleviate boredom or stress, but over time they are unable to stop taking the drug even though it causes severe negative effects on their health and well-being. Those who want to find help with meth addiction need to be aware of the specific risks and symptoms involved in addiction, along with the best methods of treatment available for overcoming an addiction to this dangerous drug.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. It works by affecting chemicals in your brain that influence your feelings of pleasure, control and movement. People use meth in many different ways: snorting it, smoking it, injecting it into a vein (IV) or swallowing it. Street names for meth include speed, ice, crystal meth, glass (methamphetamine rock), tweak (methamphetamine tablet) and Batu (methamphetamine pill). You can even smoke or inject meth with household products like ammonia to make a homemade version called ice—or crystal when smoked in a pipe. The effects of meth are devastating both on an individual level and to society as a whole.
How Does Meth Make You Feel?
Meth users describe their first time using it as one of the best feelings they’ve ever experienced. The euphoria is intense and almost instant, whereas opiates take some time to kick in. Part of what makes meth so appealing is that there are no hangovers or crashes. In fact, it makes you feel more clear-headed than you did before you took it, so it’s easy to convince yourself that it’s perfectly safe and not nearly as addictive as something like heroin or cocaine—which most people know isn’t true.
It’s easy to forget that these feelings only last a short time, which is one reason why meth users feel like they need to use more. It also means that once you start using meth, it’s easy to become psychologically addicted—which is a much bigger problem than physical dependence or withdrawal. You may believe you’re in control because you’ve never experienced any symptoms of physical withdrawal or detox, but don’t let your lack of experience fool you: Psychological dependence occurs when someone craves an activity or substance despite negative consequences.
Even though a lot of people feel that meth has less potential for abuse than some other substances, it’s still incredibly addictive. Addicts often need large amounts to get high—particularly if they start abusing meth heavily—and withdrawal symptoms are extremely unpleasant. Many recovering meth addicts describe detoxing as one of their worst experiences, making it much harder to kick a meth habit than almost any other drug. The psychological effects aren’t just in your head, either: Meth alters chemicals in your brain, including dopamine and serotonin, which creates craving and pleasure-seeking behaviour. It also decreases levels of glutamate receptors and increases levels of adrenaline in your bloodstream, both contributing factors to an increased sense of anxiety or paranoia while using methamphetamine.
Signs of Meth Use
Many people are familiar with signs of heroin use, but some individuals may not know that meth is also a popular drug among addicts. The reason is simple: as an opioid-based stimulant, meth produces a similar high to heroin. Some individuals may even mix heroin and meth. It’s important to know the signs of meth use so you can understand what’s happening if you or someone you love abuses it—and help them get treatment.
Some signs of meth use include frequent scratching, dilated pupils, irregular sleep patterns, anxiety, paranoia and sweating. If you notice your loved one displays two or more signs close to each other, it could be a sign that they’re addicted to meth.
In addition to signs of meth use, you should also look for signs that someone is addicted to meth. Some of these symptoms include missing work or school, experiencing a behaviour change, lying about whereabouts and expressing intense interest in obtaining more meth. If your loved one begins experiencing four or more warning signs simultaneously, it could mean they’re addicted to meth.
If Someone You Know Uses Meth, How Do You Help Them?
If you notice someone you care about using meth, your first instinct may be to cut them off. Many people who are addicted to drugs fall into a pattern of denial for months or even years before they eventually accept that their drug use is out of control. Instead, offer support from afar until they’re ready to get help.
Call them out. Recognise that using meth is a big problem, even if they don’t want to admit it. Talk about your concerns about their drug use openly and honestly. Tell them that you’re worried about them and won’t stop trying to help until they get clean.
Offer help. If they’re not ready to accept treatment, give them other resources. Suggest going to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting or joining an online support group to connect with people who have been through what they’re going through. Since meth users often feel isolated, connecting with others in similar situations can be tremendously helpful for many people. However, do not insist that they see a professional or get help until they are ready.
Be patient. Recovery from meth addiction is a long, difficult process. It will take time before they are ready to get help. They may resist your help at first, so be prepared for that possibility. Do not give up on them! You love them, and they need your support to recover from their meth addiction.
Be supportive. You can’t force someone to get help, but you can offer them support. Offer to take them to meetings or talk with them about how you’ve been there and what recovery means for you. Even if they don’t want help at first, there may come a time when they need your support more than ever before—so keep offering it until that day comes.
Be ready to step in. When someone you love is ready to get help, make sure you’re there for them. They may be angry or scared about getting clean, but that’s normal. Let them know that you are there to support them and will be there as long as they need you. If they don’t have insurance or can’t afford treatment, offer to pay for a rehab program—or even just accompany them through their journey.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Using Meth?
The longer you use meth, or methamphetamines, whether recreationally or as part of a drug rehab programme, your body begins to suffer harmful effects. It may seem like there is little consequence to using meth for a short time—but even one dose has serious consequences that are felt years later. The longer you continue using meth, the more damage is done to your mind and body.
What are some common symptoms of meth use?: One of the earliest indicators that a person is using meth is he or she begins to act in ways that are inconsistent with their personality. If you suspect a loved one may be using meth, notice any changes in his or her behaviour.
What does meth do to your body?: Over time, using meth damages your cardiovascular system. While taking meth, blood pressure may increase to unsafe levels, increasing the risk for stroke or heart attack. Increased heart rate is another common side effect of using meth which may result in damage to organs such as kidneys or lungs if a person continues using it for an extended period.
What does meth do to your brain?: Meth is highly addictive, affecting a person’s cognition, behaviour, motivation, memory, movement and feelings. Using methamphetamine damages your brain by changing how it functions. For example, using meth for an extended period may cause paranoia and cognitive disturbances including confusion or hallucinations. It also impacts emotional development in young people who are still maturing intellectually.
What does meth do to your memory?: A common side effect of using meth is decreased cognitive functioning, including problems with memory. If you or a loved one has been using meth for an extended period, you may be experiencing memory loss. The drug affects acetylcholine levels in your brain, resulting in short-term memory loss. In addition, it impairs a person’s ability to acquire new information and recall memories previously stored in their brain.
Is There Hope for Recovery?
Hope for recovery exists in every situation, even when people think that there is no hope for them. In many cases, people suffering from meth addiction or abuse are not aware that they can recover. That’s why it’s important to let them know that help is available through rehab treatment facilities. Only once they realise they have a problem will they take steps to begin addressing their meth use so they can start on a path toward recovery.
The good news is that there is hope for recovery. Many people go on to lead happy, healthy lives after overcoming meth abuse or addiction. Many people think that they are not able to recover from meth addiction but with proper treatment in a professional facility, there is no reason why a person cannot achieve lasting sobriety.
At Freeman House Recovery, we offer a safe environment for people to get clean from meth and other drugs. Our staff is trained to help you or your loved one overcome meth addiction and learn how to live a sober life. We have helped many people like you achieve lasting sobriety through our comprehensive treatment programme. Don’t wait any longer; contact us today to learn more about our programmes or find out if we can help your loved one recover from meth abuse or addiction.
Recover from Meth Addiction at Freeman House Recovery
If you’re concerned about a loved one, you don’t have to suffer alone. At Freeman House Recovery, we offer support services for family members who are struggling with a meth addiction. Call us today at +27 12 1111 739 to learn more about how we can help you through your struggle. We’re here to help!