Meth Addiction Warning Signs & Dangers

The Landing provides meth addiction treatment for men rooted in a science-based, research-supported clinical model to ensure a healthier, more satisfying life.

Understanding Meth

Learn about meth and substance abuse

Methamphetamine, which is also known as meth, is a potent and harmful drug. This substance is a stimulant, which means that it is capable of boosting the central nervous system. The category of stimulants includes commonly used legal substances such as caffeine and certain prescription medications, as well as illegal substances such as amphetamine, cocaine, meth and MDMA (Ecstasy). Meth is most commonly consumed orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved and then injected. When consumed, meth produces a rush of pleasure, which results from the substance’s ability to amp up the brain’s output of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is connected to motivation and pleasure. This experience can cause individuals to continue to abuse meth, possibly leading to addiction. However, even though this substance has a high likelihood of becoming addictive, there are treatment options for those who have decided to end their dangerous abuse of meth.

Statistics

Meth addiction statistics

According to the fifth and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, roughly 0.2 percent of individuals ages 12 and older have abused an amphetamine-type stimulant within the past year. The use of this substance intravenously is three to four more times more popular in men than in women, although this difference is only notable between those who inject it. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NS-DUH) reported in 2012 that 0.4 percent of the population (or 1.2 million people) abused meth within the past year.

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction

As with most mental health and substance use disorders, there are a variety of factors that can impact one’s likelihood of developing a meth use disorder, including:

Genetic: Family history can significantly impact the likelihood that a person will develop a substance use disorder involving meth or other dangerous drugs. Individuals whose parents or siblings have struggled with chemical dependency are much more likely to also have problems with addiction than are those whose family history is drug-free.

Environmental: Those who have been exposed to meth prenatally or during childhood are at an increased risk for abusing meth later in life. Additionally, those who have witnessed community violence, lived in unstable homes, have mental health disorders, or who socialize with meth dealers or users are more likely to develop meth use disorders.

Risk Factors:

  • Being around meth dealers or users
  • Presence of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Having an unstable home environment
  • Personal history of other substance use disorders
  • Experiencing community violence
  • Family history of substance use disorders
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Impulsive personality
  • Exposure to meth in the womb

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction

Those who are battling with meth abuse might also exhibit a number of signs and symptoms of abuse:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Being unsuccessful in attempts to reduce meth use
  • Using more meth or using it for longer than intended
  • Continuing to use meth even though use is having negative physical or psychological effects on the individual
  • Using meth in situations where use can be hazardous from a physical standpoint
  • Spending a great deal of time using meth, obtaining it, or recovering from using it
  • Neglecting social, occupational, academic, or recreational activities or obligations in favor of using meth

Physical symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Sweating and chills
  • Blood pressure fluctuations
  • Dilated pupils
  • Abnormally slow or fast heart rate
  • Experiencing high tolerance, wherein an individual requires a larger dose of meth to obtain the same high
  • Withdrawal, which occurs when an individual goes through a number of uncomfortable symptoms when attempting to discontinue meth use
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Slowed breathing
  • Weakness
  • Abnormally slow or fast movement

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Cravings for meth
  • Confusion

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Continuing to use meth despite experiencing significant interpersonal problems results from meth use

Effects

Effects of meth addiction

If an individual’s meth abuse continues to go untreated, he or she might go through a number of dangerous experiences:

  • Weight loss
  • Violent injury from associating with drug trafficking
  • Engaging in illegal or dangerous activities to earn money to buy more meth
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth sores (aka “meth mouth”)
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Malnutrition
  • Contracting HIV or other sexually-transmitted infections from sharing needles or engaging in risky sexual behavior while high
  • Polysubstance use, addiction, or chemical dependency
  • Respiratory problems
  • Puncture marks or “tracks”
  • Onset or worsening or mental health symptoms
  • Nasal irritation or bleeding

Co-Occurring Disorders

Meth addiction and co-occurring disorders

Sadly, those with meth use disorder might also meet criteria for other mental health conditions, including:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Gambling disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Other substance use disorders

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal and overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal: If an individual uses meth for a long period of time and then tries to stop use, he is likely to go through a variety of dangerous and painful symptoms as his body works to adjust to the lack of meth in the system. The following are among the more common meth withdrawal symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Slowed thought processes
  • Slowed movement
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Oversleeping
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Increased appetite
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams

Effects of meth overdose: If an individual consumes more meth than his body is able to metabolize than he will experience an overdose. An overdose on meth can be tremendously dangerous and can be deadly. If someone who has been using meth is showing the following symptoms, he should obtain treatment immediately:

  • Heart attack
  • Chest pain
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stomach pain
  • Organ damage
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Coma
  • Stroke

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