Signs and Symptoms of Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth is an illegal substance that is highly addictive. Although based on methamphetamine, which has some medical uses, crystal meth is often made in amateur labs and can be very risky to use. Someone abusing this drug may seem euphoric, energetic, confused, or aggressive. Someone who has developed an addiction to the drug may begin to struggle at home, work or school, develop a tolerance to the drug and spend a lot of time trying to get more. Addiction can also lead to overdose, which may cause a fever, shaking, an irregular heartbeat, seizures, or coma.

Crystal meth addiction is a very serious issue, as this drug is dangerous and risky. In addition to dependence, misuse of meth can cause health problems ranging from insomnia and anorexia to heart attack, seizures, stroke, and death.

Know the signs that someone is abusing or is addicted to crystal meth and take steps to intervene. Meth addiction treatment is possible, but outcomes are better when it begins early.

What Is Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth is another name for the pharmaceutical and controlled substance known as methamphetamine. In drug form methamphetamine is a powder or a pill. When used illicitly it is often in crystallized form, known as crystal, crystal meth, ice, glass, or many other names. It resembles shards of glass or crystalized rocks.

When used as a medication, methamphetamine has been approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity. Even for these uses, though, meth is not often prescribed. It is usually only reserved for people who have not responded well to other therapies. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a schedule II controlled substance along with other drugs, like opioid painkillers, that are strongly susceptible to abuse and are habit-forming.

Risks of Using Methamphetamine

As a prescription drug, methamphetamine is used as a last resort because it has such a high addictive potential but also because there are other potential side effects. Methamphetamine is a stimulant, which means it increases activity in the central nervous system. It causes increases in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, wakefulness, and body temperature.

There are some uncomfortable side effects of using meth, like dry mouth, constipation, headaches, and itchiness. There are also side effects that can be very dangerous, including a very fast heart rate, tremors, seizures, delusions, hallucinations, mania, aggression, heart attack, stroke, and death. These are more likely with higher doses, prolonged use, and abuse of meth. Addiction is also a serious risk of misusing methamphetamine. It is habit-forming and can lead to tolerance, cravings, withdrawal, and ultimately a very serious addiction.

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Signs of Crystal Meth Abuse

Because methamphetamine is so rarely prescribed, most use of the drug is illicit. Crystal meth is always an illegal substance, and those who abuse it usually snort, inject, or smoke it. Any sign of the drug or of the paraphernalia used to abuse it in these ways could indicate that someone is abusing crystal meth. Other signs include symptoms of meth intoxication:

  • Euphoria, extreme joyfulness, and self-confidence
  • Increased wakefulness, energy, and alertness
  • Rapid speech that doesn’t necessarily make sense
  • Changes in behavior, aggression, irritability
  • Dilated pupils
  • Overheating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Delusional thoughts, confusion, hallucinations
  • Depressed mood as the drug wears off

Some people misuse meth to get high, while others may abuse it to stay awake. Stimulants are sometimes abused by those who have to stay up all night or by students who want a boost to stay awake to study or write papers. Still others may use meth and other stimulants to keep awake for parties.

Symptoms of Crystal Meth Addiction

Abuse does not necessarily indicate addiction. With time and continued use, however, many people who abuse crystal meth will develop an addiction. There are long-term signs and symptoms of addiction that may be observed, in addition to the signs of being high:

  • Using more meth than intended
  • Trying and failing to stop use of crystal meth
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about, getting, and using the drug, and giving up other activities as a result
  • Craving crystal meth when not using it
  • Failing to meet responsibilities because of drug use
  • Using meth even when it causes health problems or relationship problems
  • Continuing to use the drug in situations that are risky, such as when driving
  • Developing a tolerance to crystal meth, needing to use more and more to get high
  • Feeling uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when not using

There are also some characteristic signs of long-term meth use that can indicate an addiction. These include rotting teeth, known as meth mouth, skin wounds from scratching, excessive weight loss, paranoia, and confusion.

The signs of addiction to crystal meth are obvious if you know what to look for. If someone you care about is showing any of these signs, it is important to intervene and get help. This is a dangerous drug that can cause overdoses and other health problems, but addiction to it can be treated.