The dangers of crystal meth use seem readily apparent. However, it is much more effective if you spell out the harms a drug can do, instead of referring to them as some type of abstraction. That’s why we’ve written this post on the physical, mental, and social damage that crystal meth can do.
Methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly called crystal meth is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Slang terms for the drug include ‘crank,’ ‘ice,’ or ‘speed.’ Crystal meth can be smoked, injected, ingested, snorted, or taken rectally. Between 2015-2018, an estimated 1.6 million U.S. adults reported methamphetamine use with 22.3% reported injecting meth in 2018.
Crystal meth is usually found as a white, odorless, bitter-tasting, crystalline powder that dissolves easily in water or alcohol. It may take on different shades of yellow or blue depending on purity. This chemical itself is dangerous even before it’s consumed as it is toxic and corrosive. Many of the chemicals used to produce crystal meth are either flammable or explosive or can be in combination. Crystal meth production generates toxic vapors and liquids that often cause water and soil pollution in the places where it is made.
Effects of Crystal Meth
Methamphetamines release dopamine, a neurochemical which is a component of the brain’s ‘pleasure center’. This leads to feelings of euphoria, a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. A person on a meth binge may stay awake for days with no desire for food or drink. Users of crystal meth often report feeling euphoria, tremendous amounts of energy, enhanced sexual performance, and reduced appetite.
Stopping a regular crystal meth habit suddenly and without a medical detox often results in some intensely unpleasant symptoms. These can include psychosis, extreme fatigue, depression and gnawing anxiety. Regular crystal meth users often go for days without sleeping, which has a severe effect on both mental and physical health. Most of us have seen the terrifying before and after photos of crystal meth users. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. The effects crystal meth has on the mind and body are devastating.
There are several warning signs to look for if you suspect a loved one is using meth:
- Unusual Hyperactivity
- Twitching or jerky movements
- Dilated pupils or rapid eye movement
- Sudden weight loss
- Skin Sores
- Burns on lips or fingers
Why do People Use Crystal Meth?
Despite the dangers of using crystal meth, thousands of people do it on a daily basis. Given the severity of methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms, it’s perhaps understandable that people would continue to use crystal meth in some cases. The question is, then, why do they start in the first place?
The reasons people use crystal meth are many and varied. It is most frequently used by people who are trying to deal with emotional or psychological difficulties. These difficulties typically include things like depression, anxiety, and trauma. The consequences can be devastating and can manifest themselves in many ways, including intense cravings that might appear unbearable to the user.
Women are more likely than men to use it, in part for weight loss. Men frequently report improved sexual performance as a motivator. Crystal meth can provide the energy to dance for hours and increase libido. This may explain its prevalence in club culture. It is also associated with high-risk sexual behavior. While crystal meth does not have the type of physical withdrawal effects associated with opioids, cessation of use often proves incredibly difficult.
Often, the user will take the drug in order to satisfy these cravings, but this only makes the cravings stronger and the odds of continued use greater. Since crystal meth is an addictive drug, it can be difficult for the consumer to stop using once he or she begins. The prolonged use of the medication can also lead to mental illness and deterioration, which makes it necessary for professional help to be sought for effective therapy.
The Importance of Environmental Factors
The environmental factors that lead to the use of crystal meth are also significant. There are several instances when the user isolates himself or herself due to some kind of family or work-related problem. The person’s inability to function properly in society due to these issues can lead to loneliness and isolation, which may exacerbate the drug issue and make it much worse. When the user isn’t able to interact with others, he or she could start to develop feelings of detachment, finally resulting in the use of crystal meth.
Some of the environmental factors that lead to the use of crystal meth may include childhood sexual abuse, poverty and educational disadvantage. In a number of these cases, the users’ surroundings had a significant part to play in the development of their addiction. It’s important to remember, however, that research indicates that the drugs can cause a wide range of negative health effects in users even at very low levels. In the case of loneliness and isolation, the users can benefit greatly from joining a local support group or anti-social club, since they will have the ability to talk with others that have been through what you are going through. The only way to stop using is with understanding and a strong commitment to quitting for good.
Consequences of Long-Term Use
Long-term use of crystal meth increases the user’s tolerance. Eventually, larger and more frequent doses are necessary to achieve the desired effect. Some of the Long-term consequences of crystal use can include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Heart problems
- Tooth decay
- Weight loss
There may be ongoing episodes of psychosis, severe craving, and anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure or happiness). Treating crystal meth dependence can be challenging. It’s often difficult to get sufferers to willingly admit themselves for treatment. Currently, there is no pharmacological therapy that is effective for treating methamphetamine dependence. Typical treatments are offering patients tangible rewards to lead to stop them from using and therefore, the mainstays of treatment are contingency management and talk therapy. Treating psychological symptoms and participation in lifelong recovery programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous often proves the best route.
Crystal meth is illegal, addictive, and incredibly dangerous.
Dependence is a serious worldwide public health problem with major medical, psychiatric, financial, and legal consequences. The dangers of crystal meth are quite real, but there are options for recovery out there. There is help available. Harmony Oaks can provide the tools necessary to treat the addiction and help improve the quality of life. Contact us at (423) 708-4961.