Methamphetamine is abused because it brings a quick and intense high that lasts longer than some other drugs. Methamphetamine addiction develops as a result of an increase in the feel-good chemical dopamine. Meth impacts the central nervous system and also works on the brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin.
Mental health professionals classify methamphetamine addiction as a stimulant use disorder. People who abuse methamphetamine have a strong chance of developing the symptoms of addiction.
The most common ways people abuse crystal meth are:
- Swallowing meth in pill form
- Sniffing meth in powder form
- Injecting meth intravenously or intra-muscularly
- Smoking meth
Crystal meth addiction can take over a person’s life in a short time. The effects of methamphetamine addiction can be devastating.
Is it Time for Meth Addiction Treatment?
If you are concerned that you or a loved one can’t stop using meth, it may be time to consider inpatient rehab. See if you’ve noticed any of the warning signs of meth addiction.
Warning signs of meth addiction include:
- Strong drug cravings when not taking meth
- Lack of control over meth intake
- Tolerance to meth’s effects
- Preoccupation with obtaining and using meth
- Severely dilated pupils
- Meth mouth (dental problems from meth abuse)
- Mood swings that go from euphoria to depression
- High anxiety, agitation, nervousness and irritability
- Secretive behaviors such as hiding substance use
- Financial, legal, career or relationship problems
- Isolating from friends and family
- Risky behavior
- Weight loss and odd patterns of eating
- Withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting and trembling when use falls below typical levels
- Poor personal hygiene
- Paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis
What Meth Does to the Brain
Similar to the stimulant crack cocaine, methamphetamine makes drastic changes in normal brain chemistry. Like other powerful stimulant drugs of abuse, methamphetamine triggers pleasure-producing changes. It works by accelerating central nervous system activity. It also speeds up nerve cell activity in the spinal cord. However, compared to amphetamine and cocaine, methamphetamine produces unusually large increases in chemicals responsible for producing euphoria.
While meth increases dopamine and adrenaline production, it also blocks dopamine transporter. This is a protein that binds to excess dopamine and stores it for future use. This process leaves large amounts of dopamine and adrenaline floating around in the central nervous system.
Meth can also cause brain damage and symptoms that mimic mental health disorders such as:
- Schizophrenia and psychosis
- Long-term memory loss
- Cognitive issues
- Compulsive behavior
Long-Term Physical Effects and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Abuse
The body can quickly develop meth dependence. Methamphetamine users build up a tolerance to the drug’s effects. They need increasing amounts to get the same effects. As a result, people who abuse meth are at risk for health problems and severe changes in physical appearance. Some of the physical signs and symptoms of meth addiction include:
- Liver damage
- Tachycardia (abnormal heart rate)
- Heart attack
- Poor motor skills
- Tooth decay and loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- Decreased appetite/weight loss
- Constriction of blood vessels
- Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
- High blood pressure
Signs and Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal
The “high” caused by meth is accompanied by profound changes in the brain’s chemical makeup. If these changes occur repeatedly over time, the brain starts viewing the drug as necessary. It begins to expect the effects of meth on a regular basis. This shift in brain orientation signals the development of a physical dependence on meth.
One symptom of crystal meth addiction is withdrawal syndrome. If a person is addicted to meth, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when drug use falls below what the brain is expecting. Since methamphetamine changes brain chemistry, repeated users of the drug are at high risk for physical dependence and addiction.
Meth withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Chronic fatigue
Reclaim Your Life From Meth Addiction
Treatment for methamphetamine addiction can help prevent further damage. Lucida Treatment Center offers evidence-based residential treatment for meth addiction. We address the causes of addiction such as co-occurring mental health disorders and teach you healthy coping and relapse prevention skills.
Lucida Treatment Center can help you recover. We offer:
- Drug abuse treatment
- Mental health care
- Nutritional support
- Non-12-step drug rehab option
- Traditional and alternative therapies
- Family program
- Continuing care
Change your life. Get help at our addiction center. Speak confidentially with a Lucida recovery advisor at 844-878-1996.