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What Are Signs of Meth Use?

meth use signs

Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as “meth” or “crystal meth,” is an addictive and dangerous drug that has severe effects on the user’s physical and mental health. Despite its high potential for addiction and abuse, meth is still widely used and abused in the United States. If you or someone you love is struggling with meth addiction, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of use so you can get help. In this post, we’ll discuss the most common signs of meth use and the long-term effects of the drug. We’ll also discuss treatment options for meth addiction and how to get help for yourself or a loved one.

What is Methamphetamine? 

  • Definition: Methamphetamine is an illegal crystalline drug whose chemical structure is similar to amphetamine. It affects the central nervous system and creates a euphoric “high” feeling in users.
  • History: Meth was first synthesized in 1893 and used to treat narcolepsy and other sleeping disorders in the early 1900s. However, once the addiction potential of the drug was recognized in 1950, it was outlawed in most countries and has since become a Schedule II controlled substance under international law.
  • Effects: When used, meth releases dopamine in the brain and causes feelings of intense pleasure and alertness. High doses also cause increased breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure; increased body temperature; lack of appetite; paranoia and violence; visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations; and psychosis.

Short-Term Signs of Meth Use

  • Physical Signs: Common physical signs of meth use include dilated pupils; jaw clenching; teeth grinding; sudden weight loss; insomnia; nausea or vomiting; redness in face or eyes; excessive sweating; twitching or tremors; unsteady gait; sores on the skin from scratching at invisible bugs or itching due to hallucinations; pale skin or discoloration on the skin from burns or injections sites.
  • Behavioral Signs: Those using meth often exhibit agitated behavior such as irritability, restlessness, extreme talkativeness, risk-taking behaviors including unsafe sexual activity, and obsessive behaviors such as obsessively cleaning or performing repetitive tasks. They may also display aggression or extreme mood changes.
  • Cognitive Signs: Those using meth may have difficulty concentrating or completing tasks they previously would have been able to do easily, difficulty paying attention or remembering things, impaired judgment resulting from distorted thinking patterns, increased impulsiveness leading to inappropriate behaviors and/or a lack of impulse control resulting in criminal behavior such as burglary or assault.

Long-Term Signs of Meth Use

  • Physical Signs: Long-term meth use can cause problems with organ systems including skin sores from obsessive scratching at imaginary bugs (formication), liver damage from toxicity buildup in the body, kidney failure due to prolonged dehydration, difficulties with normal movement due to decreased muscle control (e.g., difficulty walking or standing up), severe dental problems (meth mouth), headaches that could be indicative of stroke or brain damage caused by long-term drug abuse, malnutrition due to lack of appetite caused by meth use as well as general health problems related to long-term drug abuse such as stomach ulcers and high blood pressure.
  • Behavioral Signs: Long-term meth use may lead to extreme changes in behavior including depression and anxiety due to feelings of guilt for negative behavior related to meth abuse, loss of interest in everyday activities as users focus their attention on obtaining more drugs rather than participating in healthy activities with family and friends, paranoia due to repeated exposure to high amounts of dopamine released during meth use that can cause users to become delusional with thoughts that others are out to get them, violence due to an increase in aggression while under the influence of the drug combined with impaired judgment while high leading to inappropriate behaviors such as assault or theft and an inability to prioritize anything else over obtaining more drugs which can lead users into a life characterized by criminal activity.
  • Cognitive Signs: Long-term meth use can be damaging cognitively leading to an impaired ability to think clearly when not under the influence of methamphetamine which can indicate slower reaction times when making decisions or problem-solving as well as difficulty distinguishing between right and wrong behavior leading users into dangerous situations they would otherwise avoid if not under the influence of drugs like methamphetamine. Additionally, memory difficulties can be seen as well as difficulty focusing on tasks for any length of time that could indicate permanent damage has been done to brain chemistry due to long-term drug abuse.

Methamphetamine use is a serious problem with severe physical and psychological health risks. It is important to recognize the signs of use, from physical and behavioral changes to long-term cognitive issues, to get the user the help they need before it’s too late. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, it’s important to reach out for help as soon as possible. Only with professional help can those suffering from meth addiction get on the road to sobriety and a healthier lifestyle.

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