Am I Addicted to Meth?

Addiction consumes the brain and body in such a way that the signs and symptoms become too hard to ignore. When considering the question, am I addicted to meth?, the answer manifests in both physical and psychological ways. A few of the physical signs of meth abuse and addiction include feeling like bugs are crawling on the skin, rotting teeth, referred to as “meth mouth,” and extreme weight loss.

Behaviors change in people who use meth, which is also indicative of drug addiction. Meth provides a feeling of exaggerated highs. When a person becomes talkative, energetic, and able to complete tasks in faster time than normal, this may all sound like a positive change. However, when that’s immediately followed by anxiousness, paranoia, and feelings of depression, those up and down mood swings are ways that show drug addiction has taken over.

The main sign of meth drug abuse and addiction is withdrawal symptoms. Once the body becomes adapted to having meth control the reward pathway in the brain that is usually initiated by the natural communication of dopamine, the dependence changes from wanting the feeling of meth to needing it. After the high has worn off, the craving is too big to abstain from use without intervention and addiction treatment at a rehabilitation center. Common withdrawal symptoms of meth addiction include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations and other psychotic episodes
  • Insomnia
  • Mood disruptions
  • Violent behaviors

Unlike withdrawal symptoms of other drugs like cocaine or heroin, most meth addiction symptoms are psychological. Although, it can lead to an irregular or rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure as well. One of the biggest risks of withdrawal is the deep depression a person feels, which may lead to thoughts of suicide. 

How Addiction Takes Over and What It Looks Like Day to Day

Addiction makes it feel like a person has control over their situation when nothing could be further from the truth. With that false sense of security comes the idea that going through the withdrawal process is easy to manage alone. That’s how meth works. It makes people believe they can do anything by tricking the brain and “rewiring” the transmission circuits to send false, feel-good messages. 

The feelings of a meth high are all too easy to get addicted to. The rush of pleasure seems well worth the risk. However, addiction grabs hold and creates an up-and-down roller coaster of emotions and feelings that have long-term results. It can affect relationships, responsibilities at work, and cause trouble with the law. It damages physical and mental health since short-term side effects of meth abuse include lack of appetite and less need for sleep, among others. 

Additionally, not all people react to meth the same way or present signs of meth abuse and addiction that are immediately noticeable. Some may feel those highs for longer periods of time, while others simply feel a change from their everyday bouts of melancholy and anxiety. It’s common for co-disorders to be diagnosed at the same time as addiction. In short, meth addiction may cause a blissful moment or two, but these illusions are temporary. 

So, what does addiction actually look like for a person on a day-to-day level? It’s a need to use meth on a regular basis with thoughts and cravings so overpowering that it’s difficult to focus on anything else. It takes up a lot of a day due to using it or recovering from its effects. This leaves little time for regular obligations at home, work, or as part of your own self-care. For many, the idea of the simplest routine like taking a shower and getting dressed are delayed or don’t happen at all when addiction is involved.

Meth addiction is damaging to the brain and body in ways that can aggravate illnesses or medical conditions already present. It adds stress to the body. This can push it to a point where other side effects may take place. It’s risky every time a person decides to use meth, whether or not that use turns into a full-blown addiction. If the question comes up over whether someone is addicted to meth, it’s likely all the signs and symptoms are there and all that’s left is to receive confirmation. 

Addiction recovery for meth users has a much greater success rate when medically monitored through a detox program. It’s nothing a person should have to go through alone. Between the cravings, painful withdrawal symptoms, and unpredictability of how the body can react, this can all lead to extremely dangerous reactions. There’s a higher chance of relapse when trying to detox alone and it can lead to an accidental overdose by trying to overcompensate from the onset of this and discomfort.

Situational Risks of Meth Addiction

In addition to the damage that meth drug abuse and addiction does to the body and brain, there are secondary ways the highly addictive drug can put people at risk. For example, substance abuse with meth raises the risk of HIV and hepatitis C. If the method of use is injection, then shared, contaminated needles and syringes can transmit these types of blood-borne disease. 

Furthermore, if a woman is pregnant while abusing meth, it can result in premature delivery or separate the placenta from the uterine lining. The baby may be exposed and may result in a premature birth weight and heart and/or brain abnormalities. Research has shown babies born to mothers who abused meth are more likely to have increased stress and poor quality of movement. Throughout the developmental stages of a person’s life, there will also be attention, cognitive, and behavioral issues. 

Meth affects the person who is using it, but addiction also affects everyone in the immediate surrounding environment. It does damage to the brain, which leads to consequences that can have a ripple effect and perpetuate meth use. For example, addiction can cause a loss of interest in work, which can eventually lead to being fired. This can cause problems financially and in partnerships. The negative effects can continue on and on in this manner. Meth then becomes the only thing that presents seemingly happy moments and leads down an even further dangerous path.

These situational risks don’t apply to everyone, but meth addiction creates its own version for each person. It affects millions of people, all in various ways. How long does it take to get addicted to meth? It depends. Children as young as 12-years-old have developed meth abuse disorder that they carry with them into their adult years. Others start as a result of trauma in their lives. There’s no one story that encompasses all. No matter the cause or history of addiction, it’s not too late to seek help. 

Moving Forward from Addiction

The first part of treating addiction is acknowledging it as the disease that it is. It’s not a habit to break or a phase to get through. Addiction is treatable, but there is no cure. It requires a constant management of symptoms to prevent the cycle of it from happening again. This requires knowing which coping mechanisms and tools will help to recognize and handle them in the future.

Meth addiction treatment is designed to help build upon these strategies and create a foundation that allows people who have struggled with addiction feel confident with living a sober lifestyle. The first step of any addiction treatment program begins with the detox process. The body and brain must be in a stable place without the influence of drugs in order to move forward to the rehabilitation stage of treatment. 

Detox is intense and unpredictable. Although there are signs of meth withdrawal that are common in most cases, there’s no way to tell for sure how someone will respond to them or what other harmful side effects they will lead to. Undergoing detox through a medically managed treatment program provides a safe, secure environment to heal. As the body fights to stabilize itself again, it’s important to have constant supervision to ensure no additional harm is done. 

This period of detox lasts for only a few days, but can feel like longer due to its intense nature. After that, certain withdrawal symptoms may still linger, which can make the next steps all the more challenging. With the assistance of a drug detox program, there’s also the emotional support to help push through this difficult time. Going through it alone makes it more difficult, often takes longer, and is met with a less likelihood of success than when seeking treatment options. 

And why go through the process by yourself when there are people and resources readily available who are experienced and prepared to care for this type of situation? Once immersed in the rehab part of treatment, it can feel like progress is slow. It’s important to set a pace that works for each person versus trying to rush through to get to the solution or what will provide immediate gratification. It takes time, learning, and understanding in order to fully heal and have the strength and tools to prevent addiction in the future. 

Skipping over parts of treatment or being afraid of setbacks may seem like it will result in success, but that will be fleeting. Eventually, the process will have to begin again. The goal of treatment is to provide a space and strong state of mind where long-term sobriety can be achieved. Addiction affects the lives of many, but there’s always a way to start anew on a different path.

Sources:
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-abuse-in-united-states;

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/are-people-who-misuse-methamphetamine-risk-contracting-hivaids-hepatitis-b-c;

https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/meth-addiction#signs-of-addiction;

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.

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