The Dangers Of Crystal Meth

What is Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth is the common name for crystal methamphetamine. It is a powerful and highly addictive synthetic (man-made) drug that affects the central nervous system. Crystal is usually a colorless and odorless form of methamphetamine that typically resembles small fragments of glass or shiny blue-white “rocks” of different sizes. Crystal meth, however, usually has a higher purity level and may produce even longer-lasting and more intense physiological effects than the powdered form of the drug. The effects can last for a period of between 4 and 12 hours. In cases of overdose: stroke, lung, kidney, and gastrointestinal damage can develop, and coma and death can happen.

How is it Abused?

Crystal meth is named for its clear, rock-like, crystalline appearance. This drug is usually smoked, but it can be injected, snorted. A dangerous form of methamphetamine ingestion, “parachuting,” in which drugs are wrapped in plastic wrap or toilet paper to delay absorption, is becoming more common. Like other stimulants, crystal meth arouses the brain’s pleasure centers, releasing dopamine and initially causing feelings of extreme pleasure.

Dopamine is involved in motivation, body movement, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. Crystal meth users report feelings of increased energy, euphoria, and power. According to the US National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) [1], this drug is a Schedule II substance under the controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs which include PCP (phencyclidine) and cocaine, have a high potential for abuse.

Crystal Meth
A powerful stimulant, crystal meth has been linked with brain damage.

Other Names of Crystal Meth

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) [2], this drug has no legal use and is exclusively abused as a recreational substance. However, pharmaceutical methamphetamine is used in medications that treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and, infrequently, in cases of severe obesity. Crystal meth is known by many slang terms or street names, including blade, glass, quartz, crystal, shards, and ice. In the United States, there were greater than 150000 emergency department visits for toxicity from methamphetamine in 2011 [3].

Signs and Symptoms of Crystal Meth Abuse

People abusing or addicted to crystal meth will show a variety of physical and behavioral symptoms. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of meth use include:

Physical Signs and Symptoms

  • Track marks
  • Hyperactivity
  • Twitching, facial tics, jerky movements
  • Hair that is thinning or falling out
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Heavy sweating
  • Uncontrollable jaw clenching
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Drastic and sudden weight loss
  • Scratches on the skin or skin sores
  • Red, swollen eyes
  • Burn marks on the fingers or lips
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Rotting teeth or meth mouth
  • Tremors
  • Outbursts or mood swings
  • Doing repetitive, meaningless tasks
  • Seizures
  • Increased respiration

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms

  • Reduced appetite
  • Erratic sleeping patterns
  • Frequent lying
  • Stealing
  • Taking dangerous risks
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • No longer doing activities they love

Psychological Signs and Symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Violent outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Effects of Crystal Meth

The higher the dose, the greater the effects. Moreover, it causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, raising the risk of a heart attack. In addition, overdose from this drug can cause lung, kidney, and gastrointestinal damage. Also, stoke, coma, and death can happen. An overdose happens when the individual uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that results in severe, dangerous symptoms or death.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) [4], In 2017, around 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involved the methamphetamine category, and 50 percent of those deaths also involved an opioid, with half of those cases linked to the synthetic opioid (fentanyl). It is important to note that cheap, dangerous synthetic opioids are sometimes added to crystal meth without the user knowing.

Short-Term Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse

  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Faster breathing
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature 

Long-term Effects of Crystal Meth 

  • Severe tooth decay (meth mouth)
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Addiction
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Meth “bugs,” or the feeling of bugs under the skin, leading to skin-picking and sores

Crystal Meth 
Meth mouth, also known as the dentist’s worst nightmare, results from continued crystal meth abuse and addiction. Even with treatment, much of the dental damage done by smoking or using meth can be permanent.

Withdrawal Effects

Long-Long-term use of crystal meth can cause brain damage, although this gradually gets better if the user stays off the drug for a long time. Chronic crystal meth users may develop difficulty feeling any pleasure other than that provided by the drug, fueling further abuse. Withdrawal from this drug happens when a chronic user stops taking the crystal meth. Effects of crystal withdrawal may include:

  • Headaches
  • Strong drug cravings
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Extreme sleeping
  • Vivid dreams
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Suicidal ideation and behaviors

How Long Does Meth Stay In Your System?

Determining exactly how long crystal meth is detectable in the body depends on many variables, including the type of test used, the method of use, and an individual’s unique physical features. Meth will first appear in urine 2 to 5 hours after using it. It commonly takes about half a day for the body to metabolize half of the meth in its system, but in some instances, traces of meth may even be found in your system months later. If you want to learn about the answer to the question, how long does meth stay in your system? Just click on the link.

What is Meth Mouth?

Regular users of crystal meth have a significant risk of losing their teeth through severe decay. This is known as meth mouth. During this time, teeth can rot, break, or fall out. Moreover, a meth mouth can increase the possibility of getting gum disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Mouth

  • Cracked teeth, missing teeth, teeth that fall out
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Gum disease
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth grinding or clenching the teeth
  • Cavities and micro-cavities
  • Lockjaw
  • Black rotting teeth

Help for a Crystal Meth Abuser

If your child, parent, friend, or anyone you care about is using crystal meth, you are right to want to try and help them. However, be prepared for the reality that the recovery process will not be a walk in the park. Here are some things you can do to help.

  • Learn more about crystal meth use, addiction, and recovery
  • Confront them calmly, with a sense of compassion and concern
  • Be patient
  • Practice active listening
  • Do not tolerate their addiction
  • Reach out for professional help
  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself

Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction

Treatment for crystal meth use disorder needs a combination of therapies and services that include treatment for trauma experiences; mental health conditions, particularly depression and anxiety; and physical health.

Effective clinical interventions for individuals with methamphetamine use disorder focus on timely access to structured treatment and incentive-based therapies. Proven treatment interventions include:

Motivational Interviewing

  • It is a counseling style that helps individuals overcome feelings of ambivalence and enhances motivation to change substance use behaviors.

Contingency Management

  • This is a type of behavioral therapy that uses positive reinforcements to encourage desired behaviors.

Community Reinforcement Approach

  • This is a treatment approach that identifies behaviors that reinforce stimulant use and makes a substance-free lifestyle more rewarding than one that includes drugs and alcohol.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

  • It is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that assists individuals to understand their current problems, challenges, and experiences to change their behaviors and patterns of thinking.

Find the Right Treatment Plan at We Level Up NJ

crystal meth
We Level Up NJ Drug Rehab Treatment Center

During your rehabilitation, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with crystal meth addiction, get them the safest help they need and deserve. Our team at We Level Up NJ specializes in creating an ideal environment and providing effective therapies to help individuals who struggle with crystal meth abuse. We will develop a personalized treatment plan and lead you to recovery. Get started today!

Sources

[1] NDIC – https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs5/5049/5049p.pdf

[2] [3] – NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430895/

[4] – NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

[5] – We Level UpRehab » Meth Addiction Treatment

Sources