Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that is a type of stimulant. Commonly referred to as meth, crystal, ice, or glass, it takes the form of an odorless, white crystalline powder. To achieve a high, people smoke, snort, ingest, or inject the drug. Meth produces an intense but fast-fading euphoria, so people will often use the drug multiple times before experiencing a “crash.” In the United States, crystal meth has been on the rise, and in some regions it is more popular than cocaine among younger people.

Meth achieves its effect by increasing how much your brain releases a chemical known as dopamine. This release creates intense feelings of pleasure and makes the drug highly addictive. People who use methamphetamine can quickly develop what’s known as a tolerance to the drug, and they require more of the drug to achieve the high they crave.

 

Short-term Effects of Methamphetamine Use

  • increased physical activity
  • increased heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • decrease in appetite

 

Long-term Effects of Methamphetamine Use

  • weight loss
  • violent behavior
  • insomnia
  • mood swings
  • dental problems
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • memory loss

In addition to the short-term and long-term physical effects, using methamphetamine can lead to relationship, legal, and financial problems. People dependent on the drug may begin to break the law to obtain the drug or lie to family members about their use. Because the grip of the drug can be so strong, it is incredibly difficult to suspend use without professional and peer support.

If you’re uncertain whether a family member or friend is using methamphetamine, there are certain signs which might catch your attention. Have you noticed changes in their physical appearance, such as their skin or teeth? Are they constantly picking at their skin or hair? Has your loved one lost weight, or do they show little appetite? People who are using meth can also have angry outbursts or sudden changes in mood, or they may also suddenly act paranoid about being watched or followed.

Treatment options for methamphetamine use often include individual or group psychotherapy, peer support, and inpatient and outpatient drug treatment. Whatever the treatment, the first importance step is detoxification from the drug. Because withdrawal symptoms can be so intense, a person may be tempted to relapse during this time. Extra support from a rehabilitation center and medical attention for withdrawal symptoms are frequently recommended by professionals. Though there are no prescribed drug treatments for meth addiction, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants to help additional symptoms experienced during the recovery process.

 

What You Can Do Today

If you are using methamphetamine, the first step is asking for help. Talk to a doctor or a mental health professional as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate to bring a family member or friend to your appointment if you feel nervous. Recovery starts with saying the problem out loud and asking for the help you need.

Once you’ve taken the first step, it’s important to clear your home, car, and other spaces free of any drugs or drug paraphernalia. Keeping these items can lead to a quick relapse or can endanger others. Practicing recovery also requires an awareness of the people and places that promote drug use. Avoid people who use the drug or any drugs, and stay away from places where you bought, used, or are reminded of the drug.

After or during your recovery treatment, don’t hesitate to seek out peer support. Being encouraged by others and seeking out a drug-free space can provide weekly or even the daily support you need to avoid methamphetamine.

If you have a friend or family member who is using methamphetamine, remind them that you love them and will support them in their recovery. Acknowledge their fears and concerns about recovery, and don’t hesitate to express your own concerns or observations about how the drug has damaged their life and the lives of others. While a person will only stop drug use when they are ready, the reassurance of a friend or family member can make all the difference in their recovery. Don’t hesitate to connect them with the right resources and to support them when they take that first, brave step.

Last Updated: Dec 2, 2016