Am I Addicted to Meth?
Before we get into the side effects, this is one of the most common questions we hear. It’s actually the wrong question to ask. A lot of people worry about things like their genes, their family history, how much meth they’ve been taking and for how long. None of this really matters when it comes to understanding whether or not someone has a problem.
Here are the real questions you need to ask yourself:
- Does my meth use cause problems in my life with my relationships, school, a job, or just how I feel about myself?
- Do I take more meth than I told myself I would?
- Do I regularly need to use more meth to obtain the same high as before (constantly costing more time and money to get high)?
- Do I tell myself I can stop using any time, but then always seem to keep using, even when I promised myself or others I wouldn’t? Do I constantly find new excuses as to why I don’t need to stop right now?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s likely you or someone you love should seek professional help. Just like anything else we struggle with in life, it could be a history of family problems, depression, anxiety, or even just not being good at math in school. For all of these situations, people seek professional help from an expert. If someone could improve on their own, without help, they would’ve done it already.
There is nothing wrong with seeking help and the entire question of asking whether yourself or a loved one is addicted is a moot point. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma around drug use. People have this stereotypical image of a “junkie” living on the street, but the reality is that most drug users are normal, everyday people. They have jobs and families. Their use started recreationally or as a way to relax after a stressful day and then, slowly, over time, got out of control. It can happen to the best of us and there is nothing wrong with that, nothing you should be ashamed of.
When we have problems in our lives that we can’t solve on our own, the right choice is often seeking out professionals. It’s why we go to psychologists for depression and tutors when we’re struggling in school. We know experts can help us get to a better place and achieve better results than we could do on our own. This is exactly how substance abuse problems work as well.
Many people are surprised that standard doctors and psychologists don’t understand substance use and addiction, but that’s because substance abuse and addiction is actually a separate field with its own unique solutions. In 12 years of medical school, most doctors receive less than 4 hours of training on addiction! The field of psychology has also ignored addiction in their training and certifications, which is why addiction counselors and psychologists who obtain special certifications in substance abuse and addiction are the only ones qualified to treat it.
Need to talk to someone about meth use? We can help.
What Is Methamphetamine (Meth)?
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly addictive stimulant. Many people use the drug because they like the way that it makes them feel. It gives them an intense feeling of euphoria. However, there are numerous dangerous short and long-term meth side effects that any user should be aware of using the substance.
There are also a large number of street names for meth. Below are just a few of the main ones:
Meth is most often snorted, smoked, or injected. Crystal meth, a more glass-like form of meth, is usually smoked,
What Does Meth Look Like?
Meth is usually a white, crystalline powder. Occasionally, other colors such as brown, yellow, gray, or even orange and pink can be seen, but the most common color is white.
If compressed, it can also be seen in pill form.
Crystal meth looks like ice or glass as it comes in a chunky, crystal form.
You can’t smell meth, as it has no odor. It’s bitter to the taste and dissolves easily in water.
What Are the Short-term Negative Side Effects of Meth Abuse?
- Hyperthermia—a condition where the body temperature rises above normal.
- Decreased appetite.
- Heavy breathing and increased heart rate.
- Muscle soreness (from clenching one’s jaw).
Short-term side effects will generally end immediately following a sustained period of sobriety.
What Are the Long-term Negative Side Effects of Meth Abuse?
- Addiction as we defined above – a situation where use has caused problems in a user’s life to the point where they can no longer stop use on their own. This is because the brain changes over time with continued use to the point that functioning without meth becomes abnormal for the brain and increasingly difficult or painful to change.
- High tolerance for meth and other stimulants.
- Negative impact on health or appearance. Rotten teeth, open sores, acne, and a haggard look are all common with advanced meth use.
- Due to loss of appetite, severe weight loss is also common.
- Extended meth use can suppress the immune system, leading to a much harder time fighting off infections such as the flu or common cold.
- Organ damage from extended use can also result in stroke, heart attack, liver damage, or a coma in the most severe cases.
Long-term use of this drug can lead to a meth addiction. People who repeatedly use meth will eventually develop a higher tolerance. They have to keep using more of it to experience the same feeling. This is how addictions develop.
Would you rather have a free, confidential conversation with someone about meth use?
Which Is Worse – The Physical or Mental Side Effects?
Talk to almost anyone in recovery from meth and they’ll tell you it’s the mental. While coming down off meth and stopping use can lead to some minor side effects such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, or muscle soreness (especially from clenching one’s jaw), these are short-lived and not of large concern for most users.
However, the longer you use meth, the more you come to depend on it to feel better, get through the day, handle difficult life situations or memories, etc. Many users complain about slides into depression, paranoia, and, in the worst cases, psychosis. These severe mental effects are the main reason why experts recommend coming off meth with professional help. Family members, colleagues, and your average doctor are not trained to deal with these serious mental issues.
How Meth Side Effects Can Ruin Your Life
Long-term meth use can do a lot more than just damage one’s physical health. It can have a negative effect on their mental health as well. An addiction can cause cognitive damage. Meth causes dopamine levels to rise to an abnormally high level. This can result in impaired judgment, memory, and motor coordination.
Meth use can also cause behavioral changes and the longer use continues, the harder these can be to change. It can cause paranoia, aggression, and hallucinations. These symptoms can have a negative impact on family relationships.
One of the most common complaints coming from family, friends, and colleagues of someone who is abusing meth is that they’ve become a different person. The loving, care-free person they remember before use started is gone, replaced by someone who seems to care more about using the drug then themselves or the important people in their life.
Previous life goals, such as completing school, caring for family, or advancing in a career can be forgotten to the point that continued meth use seems to be the primary goal in the user’s life.
In actuality, the person is still the same person they were before they started use. But that old self is hidden under substance abuse and addiction. Once the addiction and any underlying problems are addressed, the person generally returns to normal.
Get Help for an Addiction
Drug dependency has ruined many lives. However, a quality drug rehab center, with compassionate, licensed clinicians, can help turn things around. Our addiction treatment programs help men recover in a peaceful environment. The natural environment up in the mountains about an hour outside of LA, and the option to have private rooms in one of our cabins, gives men the space they need to reconnect with nature and themselves free from the distraction of busy city life.
Oftentimes, it’s not just struggling with substance abuse, but underlying issues of past trauma, mental health, or just a stressful life that drive substance abuse and addiction problems. For this reason, we have all licensed counselors trained in dual diagnosis – a treatment method used to address both addiction and underlying issues at the same time to help one achieve lasting recovery.
At Serenity Lodge, our understanding and kind professionals want to help you or the important man in your life get back on the right track. Call us today at (866) 755-9043.