The Physical Signs Of A Crystal Meth Addict

What Is Crystal Meth?

Physical Signs of a Crystal Meth Addict

Crystal Meth is an illegal drug with qualities similar to that of the drug methamphetamine. Common nicknames, or street names, for this drug include ice, Tina, crank, and glass. This drug is commonly made from OTC drugs which contain ephedrine and psuedoephedrine, which is why cold medications are now typically available only upon request from behind the counter. Crystal meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or administered as a suppository. People use crystal meth for a number of reasons. Some females use the drug in order to achieve rapid weight loss. However, this effect doesn’t last long, as the body tends to build up a tolerance to the drug which requires the user to ingest larger quantities of it in order to achieve the same desired results. Most people, however, use the drug for its long-lasting high which involves a sense of euphoria, increased energy and alertness, and an increased libido. However, there is a dark side to crystal meth use, and the side effects associated with this drug are horrendous.

Physical Signs Of Crystal Meth Abuse and Addiction

It’s important to note that the effects of crystal meth usage vary from person to person, depending upon how much of the drug has been taken, as well as the person’s weight and which method of ingestion was used. Common signs of crystal meth usage include red eyes, dilated pupils, and rapid eye movement. The rapid eye movement results from the user being unable to concentrate on anything for an extended period of time. Perhaps one of the most prominent physical signs of crystal meth use and/or addiction involves rapid and alarming weight loss. Another disturbing physical effect of crystal meth use is referred to as “Meth Mouth,” in which the user suffers from rapid tooth decay and tooth loss. Excessive sweating is also a sign of crystal meth usage, as is diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, an increase in blood pressure, agitation, panic, jaw-clenching, tremors, and a fascination with repetitive tasks. Crystal meth addicts also have a tendency to display OCD behaviors.

These side effects explain why certain crystal meth addicts cannot be still and sometimes appear to be literally shaking. This “fidgety” behavior also explains why crystal meth addicts often have numerous skin lesions and/or scabs, as they tend to pick at the sores. Excessive scratching may also signal that the user is experiencing formication, or the sensation that something is crawling on or under the skin. Crystal meth is known to inhibit the body’s natural healing processes and all but destroys the immune system. Extreme talkativeness is another indicator of crystal meth usage. Chronic crystal meth use can also lead to psychosis, commonly referred to as “tweaking.” This psychosis may produce symptoms akin to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as dementia, extreme confusion, delusions, and hallucinations. While these physical manifestations of crystal meth usage may seem insignificant or harmless, they do pose a health risk to the user, as well as a safety risk to others who may happen to be nearby. The user’s agitation and panic can quickly escalate into violence, which may be brought on by the hallucinations or delusions suffered by the user.

The Deadly Side Of Crystal Meth Usage And Addiction

Extended and increased usage of crystal meth has proven to be debilitating to the user. The debilitating effects of this drug include serious physical issues such as stroke, heart attack, cardiac arrest, brain damage, kidney and liver failure, digestive system issues, blood clots, and even death.

The Stages Of Crystal Meth Addiction

The first step that eventually leads to a crystal meth addiction is experimentation. For a first-time user, they usually choose to ingest crystal meth nasally. However, because of the extreme addicting properties of this drug, the experimentation stage usually doesn’t last very long. The second stage involves habitual use, or use of the drug on a regular, usually daily, basis. During this stage, tolerance begins to develop, which leads to the next stage, dependence. In this stage, the user needs more and more of the drug in order to feel “normal.” Use of the drug has created a psychological dependence in the user which causes the user to begin to abandon daily obligations in favor of ingesting more and more of the drug. This leads to the next stage of addiction.

In this stage, the user is completely addicted to crystal meth, both psychologically and physically. After the effects of one dose wears off, the user feels the immediate need for another dose. This is the stage in which the user typically fails to recognize priorities, with the exception of obtaining more of the drug in order to satisfy their voracious appetite for it. This is also the stage in which emotional instability, paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions typically occur. In this stage, it is not uncommon for the user to lose his or her job, family, and home because of their intense crystal meth addiction.

The Road To Recovery

Since crystal meth is one of the most addictive substances currently available, a crystal meth addiction is one of the toughest things to recover from. Without proper intervention and help, most crystal meth addicts return to their dangerous and destructive habit. Crystal meth detox treatment will curb drug cravings, ease withdrawal symptoms, and cleanse the body, but more intensive treatment and therapy is needed in order to successfully cure the crystal meth addict. Inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs, as well as cognitive-behavior therapy helps to prevent relapse, and also readies the individual for a return to normal everyday life. Spending time in a “sober living house,” or halfway house, as part of the treatment plan also helps the recovering addict return to a normal life. Even with treatment though, the long- term effects of crystal meth usage may follow the user for the rest of his or her life in the form of permanent psychosis, Parkinson’s disease, memory loss, a short attention span, and decreased motor function.


National Institute on Drug Abuse

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