There are not many drugs that are found on the street nowadays that have similar intensity to that of crystal meth, and there are even fewer that are as terrifying as this drug—which can be deadly. However, despite the amount of damage this substance can do to your relationships, reputation, health, and overall life, a shocking number of individuals struggle with an addiction to crystal meth. And many of these individuals may be interested in recovery, but they don’t know how to eliminate their addiction—especially for good.
For that reason, it is so important to ensure you are fully education on methamphetamine addiction and where you can go for assistance. While you may not realize it at this moment in time, if you are struggling with a meth addiction, it is possible to achieve sobriety. It simply involves obtaining the right help.
What Is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is consideration a very potent and powerful stimulant. It is also among the most frequently abused drugs in the U.S. Similar to other stimulants, abusing crystal meth can produce euphoria, excitation, and virtually unlimited amounts of energy. Meth addicts tend to stay awake for multiple days at one time, binging on more of meth to maintain their current high, which is referred to as a “meth run”.
This excitation and energy comes from how the meth interacts with dopamine, which is a pleasure chemical found in the brain. This chemical is what automatically reinforces particularly behaviors so that you are more likely to perform certain actions again, and this chemicals is also partly responsible for the addiction developing.
To put this in layman’s terms, each time you have a good feeling about something that you have done, the feelings come from a dopamine burst. So, this chemical rush is produced when you’re eating a good deal, achieve a goal at school/work, during sexual release, and more.
However, this pleasure system is hijacked by crystal meth and supercharges it to intense levels. When this drug is abused, 12 times as much dopamine is released compared to when you have an orgasm. Therefore, the rush that you have when you are on a crystal meth high can be incredibly overpowering.
Crystal meth is not only extremely potent, but it is also easy to produce yourself. With a few basic household chemicals and knowledge of the process, just about any individuals can make the substance from any location. As a result, there has been a crackdown on many of the ingredients that are used in the production of methamphetamine. Even still, though, abusers and addicts are finding numerous ways to get their hands on the ingredients so that they can produce this powerful, dangerous substance.
Crystal meth is often referred to some of the following names on the street:
How Is Meth Abused?
There are a few different ways that methamphetamine can be abused. Generally, the drug comes in a white crystalline powder. The drug will either be ingested orally or snorted in this particular form. Sometimes, the powder might be dissolved into a liquid that can be injected directly into the bloodstream.
Meth is also available in a purer and more powerful form that looks like larger shards. This is what is really referred to as “crystal meth” because of its similarity to crystals. This particular version of the substance is typically smoked instead of ingested or snorted.
The only differences between the two are intensity and purity, so the rest of this article will use methamphetamine and crystal meth interchangeably.
The varying methods of crystal meth abuse impact the body in multiple ways. Injecting and smoking meth can cause the substance to enter the bloodstream instantly. Snorting takes about three to five minutes for effects to take place, while ingesting the drug takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Drug Health Statistics Regarding Meth Addiction
So, crystal meth is terrible in the United States, but to what extent? It can be difficult to understand the extent of a problem without having numbers for perspective. So, to understand the extent of the crystal meth addiction in the United States, here are some statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Just over one million individuals in the United States reported using meth within the last year.
- About 440,000 adults used meth in the last month.
- Roughly one percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders used methamphetamine in the last year.
- Crystal meth was responsible for just over 100,000 ER visits in 2011.
- Meth abuse treatment rates have (thankfully) dropped nearly three percent from 2005 to 2011.
- Crystal meth abuse is the worst in Southwest America. During the beginning of 2012, meth was the primary cause of admissions for drug treatment in San Diego and Hawaii, second in San Francisco, and third in Phoenix and Denver.
In addition, according to a Rand Corporation report from 2005, the economic burden of meth use (which includes the burden of premature death, addiction, drug treatment, etc.) was approximately $23 billion annually.
How Is Methamphetamine Made?
One reason that crystal meth is so incredibly dangerous is because it is able to be made at home with many basic household (or at least store-bought) chemicals. Other illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin cannot be made without access to harder-to-come-by illegal plants.
Because of this, many meth abusers will produce meth on their own in makeshift labs, which can be virtually anywhere from industrial parks and residential homes to the back of commercial stores to RVs like you see in the television show Breaking Bad.
This makes the production of meth very dangerous for a couple of different reasons. For instance, it is more difficult for a lab to be found because they occur on a small scale and be anywhere. In fact, some addicts have been known to cook up meth while in their cars—and while driving! Some will toss the drug out their window in order to try to avoid detection from the police, and since a few of the materials are dangerously acidic or explosive, the addicts are risking the lives of individuals who walk by those chemicals.
This mobile method of producing crystal meth is referred to as “one-pot” or “shake-n-bake”. Meth can be created in a single container using a variety of basic household products and cleaners. Some common ingredients include the following:
- Lighter fluid
- Ammonium nitrate
- Lithium strips from batteries
- Denatured alcohol
- Sulfuric acid (typically found in drain cleaner)
It is very important that you all remember that though it is true you can make meth utilizing store-bought ingredients, if the wrong combination is created, it can result in toxic fumes, scorching burns, as well as life-threatening explosions.
In other words, don’t attempt to make methamphetamine.
Just How Dangerous Are Crystal Meth Labs?
Though the ingredients to produce meth can be purchased at nearby stores, the ingredients are often volatile, particularly when combined.
The Drug Enforcement Administration reported more than 142,000 dangerous incidents that involved makeshift crystal meth labs over a 10-year period (2004 to 2014)—and remember, these labs can be anywhere.
One of the main issues with this is that meth is pretty simple to make, yet the consequences of producing it improperly are often deadly. Inhalation of deadly fumes, accidental ingestion, fires and explosions, and severe chemical burns are just a few of the dangers that you can encounter when you are involved in a meth lab.
And people other than the ones using the meth lab are at risk. Neighbors of meth labs are at risk of health problems simply from inhaling the fumes that seep out of the meth lab. People passing by can accidentally come into contact with some of the toxic materials that may have been discarded. Then there are always the fires/explosions that can occur that could damage property nearby or injure—fatally or otherwise—someone.
Here are a few of the signs that a meth lab may be present:
- Unusual odors (acetone, ammonia, ether, etc.)
- Excessive amounts of trash, particularly coffee filters, chemical containers, pieces of cloth with red stains, duct tape rolls, etc.
- Evidence of chemical dumping or waste
- Curtains that are kept drawn, windows blackened out or covered with foil on shed, garage, home, or other structure
- Frequent visitors, especially at unusual times
- Secretive or unfriendly dwellers
- Extensive security measures or even attempts at maintaining privacy (large shrubs/trees, fences, beware of dog or no trespassing signs)
What’s A Meth High Like?
A crystal meth high can be tremendously overpowering, and it has the ability to last for six to eight hours, during which time it creates a false sense of confidence as well as euphoria in the abuser. Users tend to feel more optimistic, smarter, more capable and physically stronger than before using. However, these are only feelings. Your mind may be racing a mile a minute, but you aren’t actually capable of thinking any more intelligently than before. At the same time, you will likely feel more energized, but it in no way means that your body is more powerful than normal. Just like all other drugs, crystal meth simply changes how you see the world, but it does not change what you are capable of doing.
When crystal meth is used, a burst of energy is often experienced and the user can sometimes become hyperactive. Because of this, the drug is very popular at nightclubs. Studies have shown that certain clubs in locations such as New York have had more than 15 percent of their customers use meth at some point. This can be extremely dangerous due to the fact that these types of venues tend to support the use of multiple drugs in addition to meth, alcohol, LSD, and ecstasy. Combinations like these can increase the risk of a fatal overdose.
What’s a Meth Run?
When it comes to the chronic addiction of crystal meth, it often entails using the substance in a binging cycle of behaviors that is referred to as a “meth run”. There are seven stages in this cycle, which are identified as the following:
- The Rush – This stage is probably the most pleasurable parts of the entire run. It consists of a very powerful burst of euphoria, an increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a boost in energy and confidence.
- The High – Once that initial rush has settled, the abuser will feel energized and motivated to complete a variety of tasks. There is a good chance that the abuser will feel more capable and smarter. Some have described the feeling as “superhuman”. However, some tasks may be trivial and could include something like cleaning a particular area for several hours at a time.
- The Binge – Once the abuser begins to come down following several hours of using the drug, the binge will occur. The user tends to feel less confident, very sluggish, and less energized; therefore, the abuser will begin to use again in the hopes of maintaining the high. Eventually, the first two stages will begin to diminish, and the drug will simply result in more mania, paranoia, and delusions with no euphoria, which is what the user is looking for. This particular stage of the cycle can last for several days at a time, during which basic needs such as sleep, food, and personal hygiene are not important.
- Tweaking – Once the abuser is unable to achieve euphoria from using meth, they will go through a very crazy stage of frustration, mania, unpredictability, and near psychosis. This stage is the part of the cycle where individuals tend to obsess over certain delusions like bugs being under the skins, conspiracies, and the like. This stage is also where violent crimes may be committed.
- The Crash – Once the mania of tweaking ends, the abuser will sleep for several days as the body recovers from the drastic effects of the binge that it just went through. Fatigue and lethargy will both be very severe during this stage and it will be virtually impossible to do anything but sleep during this time.
- The Hangover – Once the user has woken from the crash, he or she will go through a severe hangover. This stage includes malnutrition, depression, and fatigue. In addition, it may be particularly difficult for addicts to experience any kind of mental or emotional pleasure or satisfaction. This is a result of the significant depletion of dopamine from the binge. In many cases, this will result in the addict abusing additional meth in an attempt to feel pleasure, causing the cycle to start all over again.
- Withdrawal – If the abuser is able to refrain from using meth again, then they will likely start using again during this phase: withdrawal. This part of the meth run consists of an assortment of uncomfortable systems like anxiety, depression, fatigue, and intense cravings. The most effective way to break this overwhelming cycle is to enter into a crystal meth treatment center for help.
What Are Some of the Noticeable Signs and of Crystal Meth Abuse?
Meth is well-known for its shocking physical changes in the person that is abusing the drug. In the past, the before and after mugshots of addicts have often gone viral, acquiring global attention simply because of how extreme the transformations of the users can be. While it is true that all forms of substance abuse has the capability of transforming your looks, crystal meth tends to be the one drug that makes the most extreme changes.
For that reason, it is not difficult to notice the signs of a crystal meth addict. Some of the most obvious signs of an abuser of methamphetamine are the following:
- Constant itching
- Wide, darting eyes
- Extremely gaunt appearance
- Numerous scabs over the body (as a result of “meth mites”)
- Severe dental issues (aka “meth mouth)
- Quick, erratic movements
- Increased talking speed
- Emotional volatility
- Violent behavior
- Unusual self-confidence
How a Meth Addict Can Be Helped?
Have you noticed any of the aforementioned signs in a friend, family member, or other loved one? If so, it is crucial that he or she receive the professional help that is needed in order to recover. Sadly, due to how powerful denial is, he or she may be completely unable or unwilling to take the step toward professional help on their own. So, you may be compelled to help.
Of course, like other compulsive problems, it can be difficult to confront an individual about their addiction to meth. You may be afraid that they will get angry and lash out at you, or you may be worried that they will refuse to ever get help. These are valid concerns, particularly when you consider that an addict’s mood can be off the rocker.
However, here are several things that may make it easier to confront a meth addict:
- Ensure They’re Sober First – Make certain that your loved one is not high. If he or she under the influence of drugs, not only will he or she be less likely to think rationally and clearly, but he or she may react aggressively toward your concerns about the situation, putting yourself and him or her in danger.
- Make Sure You Come from a Place of Love – Make sure that the addict knows that you aren’t judging them and that you aren’t disappointed in them; instead, make sure that they know you are concerned about them and you love them. Keep in mind throughout this entire process that addiction is not a choice, it is a disease and that quitting is more than willpower alone.
Use an Experienced Intervention Specialist – Last, but not least, seriously consider hiring a professional intervention specialist to assist you with the confrontations, which can be particularly troubling. These specialists can help minimize the chances of emotional outbursts while also increasing the chances that your loved one will successfully enter into a crystal meth treatment center.
Do You Have Meth Addiction?
It is far easier to see the signs of addiction in a loved one than it is to see them in yourself, especially if you are in denial. According to research, there are six million Americans who meet clinical criteria for needing treatment for illicit drug use yet they fail to get it. Just over 93 percent of them didn’t get the treatment because they didn’t even think they had a problem.
More often than not, drug abuse and detail go hand in hand. There are four ways that you can determine if you have an addiction to meth. They are briefly discussed below and will hopefully help you find your way towards recovery.
Online Addiction Quiz – In many cases, all it takes to realize that you are battling an addiction is to take a close look at your behaviors objectively. Yes, this is difficult to do, especially for an addict. However, an online quiz can help you do that. Most quizzes are very short—about 15 questions or so—and consist of true and false questions about your abuse of the drug. It is a great way to help you realize that you finally need professional help.
Clinical Guidelines of the DSM-V – The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a widely used and trusted catalog of today’s mental orders. The guidelines listed in this manual are very extensive, so much so that they are often used by licensed, practicing psychiatrists and physicians to help them diagnose patients’ problems. It consists of 11 different scenarios that are clinically considered substance use disorders. Ultimately, if you have experienced a minimum of two of them within the last year, then you may be suffering from a substance use disorder and need to seek professional assistance.
NIDA’s Self-Assessment Tools – The National Institutes of Health’s drug abuse department took the time to create a collection of self-assessment tools that have been based on evidence to assist addicts in helping them determine the severity of their addiction to methamphetamine. These tools range in complexity from basic tests with a few simple questions to some that dive much deeper into your addict behaviors. There is essentially something for everyone here.
Free Addiction Assessment – For a free addiction assessment, contact a crystal meth treatment center like Shadow Mountain Recovery. A consultation like this can often occur directly over the phone and often take about 20 to 30 minutes. An addiction assessment can help you determine the type of treatment(s) that you will need as it relates to your individual situation. It is definitely the most personalized method out of the four listed here to determine your level of addiction and how to proceed in the recovery process.
What Are Some of the Side Effects Related to Crystal Meth Abuse?
As an addict uses meth more and more, there will be certain side effects that develop. For example, you may begin to experience some of the following:
- Stomach issues, such as nausea
- Decrease in appetite
- Irritability and angriness
- More aggressive behaviors, frequently
- Decrease in memory capabilities
These are just a handful of ways that crystal meth addiction can impact your body over an extended period of time. As your addiction to meth increases, the side effects will become worse. You will likely begin to experience delusion, have convulsions, or worse—damage to your liver, kidneys, brain, and/or heart. You may even have bouts of psychosis and lose an extreme amount of weight.
Short-Term Side Effects of Meth Use
Meth is considered a very deadly drug, and as a result, there are some disturbing short-term side effects that can affect your mind and body. The Center for Substance Abuse and Research (CESAR) reports that the most common short-term side effects of crystal meth use include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased physical activity
- Brief rush, surge of energy, euphoria
- Increased blood pressure, breathing rate
- Unpredictable behavior
- Irritability, paranoia
- Dangerously elevated body temperature
- Performing repetitive, meaningless tasks
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Heavy sweating
- Dilated pupils
- Dry mouth, bad breath
- Uncontrollable jaw clenching
- Seizures, sudden death
Apart from the aforementioned side effects, abuse of crystal meth can also lead to two very unique effects: formication—the sensation of having bugs crawling on the skin, and the risk of developing psychosis.
- Formication – Also commonly referred to as crank bugs, meth mites, as well as ice mites, this particular condition is the unnerving sensation of bugs crawling under and over the skin. These are just hallucinations that are a result of the combination of meth-laced dehydration and sweat, but the addict believes that the bugs are very, very real. In fact, it is this condition that leads to many abusers of crystal meth developing scabs over their bodies because they pick and pick at the imaginary meth mites. Over time, the open sores become infected and lead to additional complications.
- Psychosis – Abuse of meth can also lead to the risk of developing psychosis. Severe delusions, extreme changes in personality, unwavering self-confidence, and restless paranoia can cause a person to disconnect from reality. In addition, the addiction and continual abuse of meth can result in terrifyingly convincing hallucinations that impact all five senses. Once these factors are all combined for several hours at a time, it can really break a person’s sanity. There are many horror stories related to methamphetamine trips from confusing behaviors and incoherent balling to extreme self-harm and violent aggressions (such as a woman gouging her own eyes out).
Long-Term Side Effects of Meth Use
Though the short-term side effects of meth use are frightening all on their own, the long-term side effects of crystal meth use are just as terrifying. The long-term effects will occur after meth has been continually abused, or they will sometimes occur after just a few doses. According to CESAR, here are some of the most common side effects that may be experienced:
- Sores, acne, skin infections
- High blood pressure
- Cracked teeth
- Increased risk behavior, particularly if the drug is injected
- Prolonged anxiety, insomnia, paranoia
- Weakened immune system
- Strokes, lung disease, liver and kidney damage, heart infections
- Violence, psychotic behavior, auditory hallucinations and delusions
- Brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases
- Damaged nerve terminals in the brain
- Homicidal or suicidal thoughts
- When sued by a pregnant woman, premature birth; babies can suffer from cleft palate, cardiac defects, as well as a wealth of other birth defects
As the NIDA states, among the most terrifying aspects of methamphetamine addiction and chronic meth abuse is that the aforementioned symptoms can last for months, possibly even years, once the abuser has quit using the drug. They can present constantly over this period of time, or stressful events can trigger them. While some of these effects may be temporary, others can remain with you forever. Ultimately, the sooner you can seek treatment for your addiction to meth, the better your chances are of not developing the aforementioned symptoms.
What is Crystal Meth Withdrawal Like?
Crystal meth addiction is probably one of the hardest addictions to get past, and this is in part due to the strength of the withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are a direct result of your mind and body readjusting to not having meth to function off of.
When you are suffering from an addiction, many people find it difficult to recover without the right support; however, it is important to understand that it isn’t impossible. It is common for drug abusers to try to quit using meth on their own and later wind up relapsing. When you attempt to quit using meth cold turkey, you will often become extremely depressed, which can lead to potential thoughts of suicide. You can often feel overwhelmed and hopeless, often as if you have no energy or motivation.
Many individuals who attempt to stop using meth by themselves without any type of support or assistance will find that they simply cannot do so. This is because of the addiction being so powerful, then in an effort to find reprieve from the withdrawal, many will be compelled to use again. And when you see what the symptoms of withdrawal are, you won’t be surprised why most people are unable to quit on their own.
What Exactly Are the Symptoms of Withdrawal from Meth Abuse?
The list of withdrawal symptoms is long, and it is incredibly easy to see why addicts need the support and assistance of loved ones and a professional treatment center. And when you consider the fact that the withdrawal phase can last for roughly 20 days, you can imagine just how difficult it is to battle through the process as a whole.
The most common withdrawal symptoms according to Mental Health Daily are as follows:
- Appetite changes
- Low energy
- Anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure)
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain
- Suicidal thinking
- Concentration issues
Can Withdrawal Be Deadly?
Believe it or not, the withdrawal symptoms of methamphetamine aren’t directly life-threatening; in fact, most drugs do not have deadly symptoms. The ones that have deadly symptoms are benzodiazepines, alcohol, and—to an extent—opioids. However, this does not mean that you’re in danger during the withdrawal phase of meth. The danger comes from the potential complications that could arise during the time that you are using the drug.
For example, the withdrawals themselves aren’t physical in nature, but they could be overwhelming psychologically. Overwhelming anxiety, extreme delusions, and even severe paranoia can cause some addicts to participate behaviors that they otherwise would never indulge in. Because of this, the threat of self-harm, suicide, etc. are very real. Without being under the direct supervision of a professional in a crystal meth treatment center, you could be putting yourself at risk.
Therefore, in the end, the withdrawal from crystal meth could be deadly due to the fact that addicts can be a direct threat to themselves. For that reason, it is never a good idea to go through crystal meth withdrawal at home. Only a professional crystal meth treatment program is advised.
What Exactly Is Methamphetamine Treatment Like?
The best way to treat your crystal meth addiction is by checking yourself into a professional crystal meth treatment center program, which means you must go through and complete two specific phases of recovery. These recovery phases are detoxification and rehabilitation.
What Should You Expect During Detoxification
When it comes to your crystal meth treatment, detoxification is the first stage that you must enter into and complete successfully. The goal of detox is help you make it through your withdrawal safely and comfortably. Programs at a professional treatment facility tend to offer medical care around-the-clock, an assortment of amenities that will help keep you calm, as well as certain medications that may assist in dealing with certain symptoms that you may experience during the detoxification process.
Medicated Programs – These types of programs will treat your withdrawal symptoms using potent medications. While this can be helpful, the drugs have a number of nasty side effects, and more often than not, these drugs can be addictive.
Holistic Programs – These types of programs use a combination of exercises and nutrition-rich meal plans to assist your body in eliminating built-up toxins naturally, which means no uncomfortable side effects or addictive drugs.
Regardless of the type of program that you choose to go with, a professional methamphetamine detox facility can assist you with the management of your withdrawal symptoms effectively—more so than you on your own—and minimize the chances of you relapsing when things get tough again.
It is far easier to see the signs of addiction in a loved one than it is to see them in yourself, especially if you are in denial.
How Does Rehabilitation Work?
Once you have successfully completed the detoxification phase, you will move on to the rehabilitation phase. Detox helps to rid the body of the toxins that built up inside it from the drugs that you were using so that you are not longer physically dependent on crystal meth any longer. Rehab will put a direct focus on healing your mind since you know that your body is healed. More often than not, it is compulsive behaviors that lead to you relapsing rather than the physical dependency on the substance. However, in order for those behaviors to be changed permanently, it will take time as well as treatment.
There are two primary types of treatment programs when it comes to crystal meth rehabilitation: inpatient and outpatient.
Inpatient Programs – Inpatient programs require that you remain confined to the facility at all times. You will eat, sleep, and indulge in all daily activities within or on facility grounds. There are many benefits to this type of program. To start with, it keeps you from going straight back to using meth (unless, of course, you break out). In addition, it offers you 24/7 access to medical care in the event that your withdrawal symptoms reach a dangerous level.
Outpatient Programs – Outpatient programs provide you with more flexibility and less focused medical care. You will simply attend a few sessions a week that are generally held in the evenings and take up a few hours of your time. You will receive any medication that you need at these times. Programs like these allow you to continue going to school or work while getting the treatment that you need.
Regardless of the program, you will likely participate in several different types of therapies: individual, group, and behavioral. It is through these therapies, along with everything else that the program will help you with, that you will get the best chance at successfully recovering from your crystal meth addiction.
Get Help From Crystal Meth Addition Today!
Being addicted to crystal meth is very dangerous. Regardless of whether you are the addict or you know someone who is addicted to the substance, it is crucial that you know where you can get the help that is needed. Unfortunately, it is a lot easier said than done when it comes to finding the right facility for treatment. It takes a lot of time and effort to find the right treatment program to enroll in, a facility with the right amenities, and a program with a treatment philosophy that you can get behind.
If you are looking for a facility with evidence-based programs, high staff-to-patient ratio, and top-notch care, then look no further than Shadow Mountain Recovery. We would love nothing more than to help you or your loved one reach the end of their crystal meth journey.
We want you to know that recovery is always possible, and here at Shadow Mountain Recovery, your chances at recovering from your crystal meth addiction are better than ever.
Contact us today by e-mail or phone for more information.
Don’t wait another day to get the help you or a loved one needs. Call us now.