Meth is a powerful stimulant that’s primarily used as an illegal recreational drug in the United States. The medication can sometimes be used as a weight-loss aid in other countries. It was once used for medical purposes in the U.S., but it has since fallen out of regular licit use. As a recreational drug, meth gives users a powerful and euphoric high. It often causes feelings of empowerment, increased energy, and sleeplessness.
Meth is extremely addictive, and it can create chemical dependency after a single high dose. Long-term use, however, is more likely to cause a severe substance use disorder. Meth addiction can be treated, but it’s critical that the addiction is addressed as soon as possible. Continued meth use can lead to medical, psychological, and social issues. Learn more about identifying and treating meth addiction.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain, especially the reward center of the brain. The brain’s reward center is designed to learn about healthy activities (like eating) and to encourage them through cravings and compulsions. It’s a trait that helps you survive and motivates you to get what you need to maintain and enrich your life. However, some of the same chemicals that work with the reward center are affected by certain psychoactive drugs like meth.
Addiction happens when a drug alters the chemical messengers in the brain in a way that leads to compulsions and cravings to use again. Addiction is identified by continued use despite serious consequences like failing relationships, health problems, or job loss. Other signs may include:
- Hiding drugs
- Lying about drugs
- Using meth to feel normal
- Meth binging
- Days of insomnia
- Suicidal thoughts
- Strange sleep patterns
- Weight loss
- Legal or medical problems
- Mood swings
- Skin sores
- Itching or skin-crawling sensation
How Is Meth Addiction Treated?
Meth addiction can be treated with a multidisciplinary process that’s designed to address substance abuse and underlying issues. Addiction treatment needs to be tailored to your individual needs. It’s a complicated disease, and different people may come to treatment with different causes and complications related to meth addiction. Treatment typically starts with a medical and clinical assessment that’s designed to place you in an ideal level of care for your needs.
People with high-level medical needs may be placed in medical detox, particularly if they could encounter severe withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient treatment may also be needed for someone with serious medical or psychological needs that require medical or clinical monitoring. When you can live on your own, you may go through intensive outpatient treatment or outpatient treatment, which allows you to attend between one and more than 20 hours in treatment each week.
How Dangerous Is Meth Use?
Meth can be extremely dangerous, especially when it’s taken in high doses. A meth overdose can increase your heart rate and blood pressure that can lead to heart-related complications, including heart failure. Single high doses can also cause seizures and convulsions that can cause fatal injuries. The pleasant effects of meth use can encourage repeated use, which can lead to a meth binge.
Meth bingeing can cause insomnia that lasts for days, exhaustion, heart complications, psychosis, and other serious symptoms. Long-term meth use can often cause erratic behavior, mania, aggression, and other mental health problems. Meth use can also lead to suicidal thoughts and actions, and meth addiction can be extremely dangerous if left untreated.