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Signs of Meth Addiction

In 2021, 2.5 million people reported taking meth in the last 12 months in the United States. It’s easy to think this number doesn’t affect you, or that meth has no way to enter your life.

Until your son starts acting differently, always paranoid that people are watching the house. He stays awake for days on end, his body withering away as if he hasn’t eaten in weeks. Out of nowhere he sleeps, and sleeps, and sleeps, until finally, he wakes up so irritable you are afraid he will get violent. It’s like he is trapped in a cycle of something, but what is it?

Clean Recovery Centers understands the vicious cycle of meth addiction, and we know how hard it can be to love someone who is living with it. Let’s talk about the signs of meth addiction, and how you can help a loved one when you spot them.

signs of meth addiction clean recovery

signs of meth addiction how the body and mind are affectedSigns of Meth Addiction: How the Body and Mind Are Affected

Methamphetamines are a type of stimulant derived from amphetamines such as pseudoephedrine or other common cold medications. Often referred to as just meth, methamphetamines cause a rush of euphoria followed by a myriad of different side effects. Signs of meth addiction come with short and long-term side effects that alter the body and mind.

Psychological Signs: Mental Health Impact

Meth affects the brain directly in many different ways, and psychologically it can cause detrimental effects. Though the science is still being studied, meth-induced psychosis is common and can cause hallucinations and delusions. This can cause the person to hear and see things that are not there and also lose perception of reality. Friends and family members may become unrecognizable and distrust can create shifts in relationships. These symptoms can even occur after meth has left the system, which can take a toll on mental health. Depression, anxiety, and irritability can result in low self-esteem and worsening of psychosis symptoms.

Behavioral Signs

A common behavior associated with meth is known as “tweaking.” Tweaking refers to the phase when meth effects have worn off and the person can no longer feel the “high” from continued use. Typically, tweaking occurs at the end of a binge cycle and is characterized by anxiety and insomnia. The person will feel on edge and have trouble sitting still. Tweaking can last for days after the last use of meth and can occur each time after a binge cycle.

Physical Signs on the Body

Meth can cause damage to the body even after the first few doses. Short-term and long-term physical signs can be noticeable, but loved ones may not understand why these changes are happening. Let’s look at the short and long-term physical symptoms of meth use disorder.

Short-Term Physical Symptoms of Meth Use

Taking meth can come with almost immediate physical symptoms, and some may appear over the next weeks or months. Meth decreases appetite and can cause dramatic weight loss that can happen quickly. Another side effect is skin picking as meth can cause formication – the feeling of insects crawling under the skin. Sores tend to be on the face and extremities and due to poor nutrition, they may become infected.

Physically, the person will appear restless, as if they cannot sit still. They may take on projects to keep their hands busy and pass the time. Projects may be out of their skill set, but meth gives a sense that they can accomplish these without problems. They may bounce between different tasks and projects while taking meth.

Long-Term Physical Symptoms of Meth Use

Taking meth long-term can have serious effects on the body. Meth speeds up the central nervous system, causing rapid heart rate and increasing blood pressure. This can cause damage to the heart muscle and eventually lead to a heart attack or heart failure. The heart is a resilient organ, and it can repair itself to an extent. However, after so much time the heart cannot fix the damage done.

Those who smoke or snort meth can experience chronic breathing problems. This can include developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is an inflammatory lung condition that causes breathing difficulties, coughing, and wheezing. The nasal passageways can become damaged and inflamed from snorting, and sores can form from chemical burns. Meth is made with harsh chemicals including fertilizer and ammonia, which can cause long-term damage to the body.

Meth also can cause dental problems over time. The chemicals in meth can cause tooth decay, leading to yellowing and chipping of the teeth. Those taking meth also tend to have poor hygiene habits, and brushing their teeth does not occur regularly. Gum disease can develop leading to inflamed, bleeding gums and tooth loss. The condition is known as “meth mouth,” and the damage to the teeth and gums can cause permanent problems.

Meth Withdrawal Signs

Withdrawal is usually an easy marker for substance use, but meth withdrawal may be trickier to spot. Meth does not produce withdrawal symptoms in the same way as alcohol or opioids would. After taking meth, the person experiences a crash, where the body no longer can get “high” from continued meth use and forces a shutdown. The person will sleep sometimes for days as the body recovers from meth. Once they awaken, they will experience cravings, often resulting in irritability and mood swings until they can get their next dose. However, this does not come with physical symptoms other than an increase in appetite. The person will not usually feel sick or experience flu-like symptoms.

Seeing Signs of Meth Addiction in a Loved One

No one wants to see their loved one experience a meth use disorder, but denying the signs will not help the situation. If you are seeing the physical, behavioral, and psychological signs we mentioned above, it may be time to plan a conversation with your loved one. If you are still unsure if they are taking meth, you may find paraphernalia around their belongings that can help you be certain.

Identifying Meth Paraphernalia

Paraphernalia is a utensil or object used to take illicit substances. Meth can have different paraphernalia depending on the route of administration. Those who inject meth will likely have spoons, lighters, rubber bands, syringes, and needles at the ready. Smoking meth involves a form of pipe, which can be made from glass or plastic. Pipes can even be made from everyday household items such as lightbulbs and soda bottles. Snorting meth involves a straw of some sort no matter the material. A rolled-up dollar bill, a pen tube with the ink removed, or a regular drinking straw could all be meth paraphernalia.

How to Help a Loved One Find Recovery From Meth

Meth can quickly take over your loved one’s life and make you seem like the bad guy. It is important to understand how meth use works and plan to talk to your loved one at the best time. After a binge cycle, your loved one will experience a crash. When they wake up, they will no longer have meth in their system. This is one of the most ideal opportunities to talk about how you can help them find recovery. Listen to their story and offer support. They are not a meth dependence and especially are not a derogatory term such as “addict.” Meth use disorder is a mental health condition, and showing compassion and support will help your loved one open up. Offer options for treatment with solutions on how to get there. Remind them you will always be there during recovery.

There is the possibility you can’t communicate with your loved one if they are constantly in binge cycles. If you are ever talking to your loved one and feel threatened, call for medical help immediately. Paramedics and hospital professionals are trained in handling substance use and will be able to properly care for your loved one. This will keep you safe while also getting your loved one the help they need. A hospital visit can even be the kickstart to their recovery journey.

Treating Crystal Meth Addiction in Tampa, FL

Seeing the signs of meth use disorder in your loved one is scary, and trying to figure out the next steps can seem overwhelming. You don’t have to be afraid, meth addiction rehab is available and the first step in beginning recovery. Meth can change the way the brain thinks, and dependence does not happen overnight. Your loved one will learn where their addiction stemmed from and how to handle future stressors in the future – without meth. Healing is possible and can begin right now, all it takes is that first leap.

It’s normal to be worried about a loved one when you see the signs of meth addiction. Clean Recovery Centers is here to change that to the signs of recovery, and we are always here to provide support. Our unique, three-phase approach addresses all facets of meth use disorder as well as co-occurring mental health conditions. Our expert team is fluent in providing therapy techniques, skill-building classes, and hope for a brighter future. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program offerings.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

FAQs About the Signs of Meth Addiction

What should I do if I suspect a loved one is using meth?

If you suspect your loved one is using meth, try to talk to them between uses. If you can’t seem to get a moment with them and are in fear for your safety, call for medical help. Professionals can get your loved one the help they need while keeping you out of harm’s way.

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