Knowing the Signs of Meth Use Can Save Lives
Knowing the Signs of Meth Abuse Can Save Lives
Table of Contents
What is Meth?
Meth is a cheap, white, bitter powder that gives a quick and potent high. It is chemically like the medication amphetamines, which is used in tiny amounts to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Meth is illegally made throughout the United States and Mexico in large, illegal laboratories called “superlabs.”
The body quickly grows accustomed to meth. As a result, even casual use can lead to meth abuse or addiction. Meth can be taken by smoking, ingesting a pill, snorting, or injection by dissolving the powder in water or alcohol.
Meth labs create the drug by mixing hazardous chemicals, such as household cleaners, with powerful prescription cough medicine. Because the ingredients are easy to obtain, meth labs are now widespread across America. It has become a particular problem in rural America and resulted in widespread meth addiction.
Meth is one of the most abused drugs in the world today. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 5.4% of the U.S. population has tried meth at least once.1 Almost 1.6 million people used meth in the year leading up to the survey.2
Street Names for MethBecause the drug is illegal, dealers often use slang terms to avoid saying meth in front of any authorities. As police and other authorities learn these new terms, they tend to drop them and adopt new ones. As a result, there are many street names for meth. Learning their street names is an important way to spot the signs of meth use:
In addition, various terms mean getting high on crystal meth:
Why is Meth Abuse So Dangerous?
Meth Abuse and Addiction
Meth explicitly targets the central nervous system and causes a natural chemical within the brain, called dopamine, to increase. Dopamine is responsible for a number of processes in the body, including motivation, reward, body movement, and pleasure. It is released during certain activities, such as eating and exercise.
The brain rewards the body with dopamine to encourage the behavior in the future. Because the body is flooded with large amounts of dopamine after taking meth, it can quickly cause addiction. The body associates meth with this reward, so it will actively crave it and experience withdrawals quickly when stopping the substance.
Overdosing on meth can lead to stroke, heart attack, or several other organ issues. Meth overdose can be either acute or chronic. Acute meth overdose occurs when too much is taken at once. However, chronic meth overdose can occur over long-term use.
Side Effects of Meth
- Increased blood pressure
- Higher risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis
- Severe sores and abscesses from intense itching
- Changes in physical appearance
- Severe dental issues and osteoporosis
- Extreme weight loss
- Memory loss and confusion
- Hallucination and paranoia
- Violent tendencies
Signs of Meth Abuse and Addiction
With how alarmingly common meth use is and how detrimental it can be, it’s important to know the signs of meth use.
Some signs of meth use to watch for include:
- Picking at skin or hair
- Increased twitching or physical activity
- Extreme mood swings
- Dilated pupils
- Financial issues
- Legal problems
How Long Does Meth Stay in the Body?
How long meth stays in the body depends on a number of factors. The effect of meth is unpredictable because it can be created using a number of ingredients which may all have a different impact on the body.
On average, though, the effects of meth can last for hours, and it can take up to four days to leave the system entirely. Meth typically has a half-life of 10 hours, which means that half of the drugs exit the system in ten hours.
However, taking meth with other substances, such as alcohol, usually lengthens the amount of time it takes to leave the body.
Different tests can identify meth in the body even after the effects have passed:
Urine: Urine test can detect the drug from 72 hours up to a week, depending on heavy usage.
Hair: Hair test can detect the drug for up to 90 days.
Blood: Blood test can detect the drug between 1-3 days.
Saliva: Saliva test can detect the drug between 1-4 days.
Treatment Options for Meth Abuse and Addiction
Because of the highly addictive nature of meth, the body can experience powerful withdrawal symptoms in the absence of the drug.
Some symptoms of meth withdrawal include:
- Intense drug cravings
- Mood issues, such as anxiety or severe depression
Peak withdrawals usually happen around day seven and end between 14-20 days after cessation.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a standard treatment for meth use after detox. Additionally, 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous, can assist in recovery.
There are currently no government-approved medications to treat meth addiction. However, a new study released earlier this year found that combining two existing drugs can help some people cut back on meth use.6
In the study, 13.6% of participants had repeated urine tests free of the drug, compared to 2.5% on the placebo. One of the drugs is used to treat opioid addiction, and the other is an antidepressant. More research needs to be conducted, but the results are promising.