What is Crystal Meth?
Crystal Meth (i.e. crystal methamphetamine) is a potent and extremely addictive substance that primarily affects the central nervous system. Crystal meth typically is available in the form of blue-white rocks or clear crystal chunks. Crystal meth is commonly referred to as glass or ice by its users. It is a drug that is popularly used in party scenes. The most common methods of administration of crystal meth include swallowing it, snorting it, injecting it, or smoking it through a glass pipe. The use of crystal meth is extremely dangerous and can wreak havoc on both the physical and psychological status of the person using it.
Crystal meth is a substance that is synthesized and man made. It is in a class of stimulants that have been used since World War II (WWII). During WWII, soldiers were given amphetamines in order to help them stay awake and alert during long hours on duty. Individuals have also used amphetamines to treat depression and to lose weight. Currently, a form of methamphetamine is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of obesity and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and is only available by prescription. Methamphetamine is only used as a last line of treatment in these cases for individuals who have disorders that are resistant to other medications. The United States Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) classifies crystal methamphetamine as a schedule II controlled substance, which is in the same category as medications that contain opioids. Schedule II controlled substances have a high risk of abuse and can be habit-forming.
Crystal meth is synthesized through pseudoephedrine, which is a main ingredient in many cough and cold medications. The majority of crystal meth in the United States is developed in Mexico by cartels inside “superlabs.” The drug is also manufactured in the United States in smaller labs and even in some people’s homes. The process of manufacturing crystal meth is extremely dangerous and can give off toxic fumes as well as cause explosions.
Effects of Crystal Meth Use
Individuals who use crystal meth feel an extreme rush, which causes many of them to become hooked the first time they use the drug. After using crystal meth, the brain is flooded with dopamine which is a chemical that regulates feelings of pleasure. This allows individuals to feel extreme levels of pleasure and also feel energetic and have increased confidence. Individuals who use crystal meth can become reliant on the drug very quickly due to developing a tolerance which can happen fast. After building a tolerance, the individual will need to consume higher doses of crystal meth to obtain the same high. This is risky, as when a higher dose is used, it leads to an increased risk of dangerous side effects of using the drug, including:
- Increased anxiety and confusion
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mood swings
- Chronic insomnia
- Increased body temperature that may lead to the individual becoming unconscious or even death
- Paranoia, including hearing and seeing things that are not really there
- Suicidal ideation
- Sensation that bugs are crawling under the skin
- Dramatic changes in appearance. This includes speeding up the aging process, dull skin, sores, pimples, dry mouth, rotting teeth, and broken teeth.
- Increased risk of HIV and other venereal diseases
- Increase in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, stealing, and resorting to violence
Signs and Symptoms of Crystal Meth Substance Abuse
Individuals who have developed a crystal meth addiction or substance abuse problem often begin to have difficulty maintaining their lives and have issues at work, home, or school. They often spend most of their waking hours trying to obtain more crystal meth to use in order to maintain their high. The following are some signs that an individual may have a crystal meth addiction or engage in crystal meth abuse:
- Extreme weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of care when it comes to grooming or physical appearance
- Rapid eye movements
- Dilated pupils
- Obsession with picking at skin or hair
- Odd sleeping patterns (i.e., staying awake for days or weeks at a time)
- Frequently asking to borrow money
- Selling possessions
- Erratic or jerky movements
- Facial tics
- Incessant talking
- Mood Swings
- Angry outbursts
- Psychosis (i.e., hallucinations and paranoia)
- Exaggerated or animated mannerisms
Seeking Treatment for Crystal Meth Substance Abuse or Addiction
Treating individuals that have issues with crystal meth abuse is difficult. Crystal meth is one of the most difficult substance addictions to treat, but it is possible to help individuals withdraw from and maintain sobriety from crystal meth. Crystal meth dependence should only be treated by a professional treatment program and professional drug counselors. Individuals who enter treatment should first go through detox and then continue their treatment through a multifaceted approach that is conducted through the help of a treatment team that may include physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and addiction support services.
Treatment for crystal meth dependence or substance abuse should focus on counseling and therapy, which may include a variety of approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, family education, or a 12 step support program. Treatment for crystal meth substance abuse and addiction should focus on recovery in the long-term, by using a set of diverse treatment, intervention, and therapeutic options in order to support long-term recovery and success. Education regarding the facts about methamphetamine substance abuse and withdrawal should be provided. Further, patients should be educated regarding any patterns or triggers that they may be able to identify and avoid in the future. Individuals should also engage in contingency management, which allows them to assess the places, people, and other things that may trigger them to use or crave crystal meth in the future.
If you or a loved one would like more information regarding treatment for crystal meth abuse or addiction, please feel free to call St John’s Recovery Place admissions department. Our highly trained staff is ready to guide and support you on your road to recovery.