Signs of Meth Addiction
Signs of Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that can cause serious physical and psychological problems for a user in both the short and long term. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008, more than 300,000 Americans over age 12 reported having used methamphetamine during the previous month. In particular, Hawaii has a serious problem with meth use whereas Missouri has an equally concerning problem with meth production (more than 1,700 documented cases of production in 2009). Although methamphetamine is sometimes prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity, the Drug Enforcement Administration continues to monitor it as a Schedule II controlled substance because of its high potential for abuse. Some signs of crystal meth abuse are listed below.
- Weight Loss – Meth acts as an appetite suppressant, which results in extreme weight loss in a relatively short period of time.
- Insomnia – As a central nervous system stimulant, meth makes sleep difficult. Addicts may go many days (sometimes weeks) without sleep, which causes somewhat understandable changes in mood and behavior.
- Tooth Decay – Called “meth mouth” on the street, meth addicts may be missing teeth, have tooth discoloration, or suffer from sore gums.
- Signs of Administration – Crystal meth is usually swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. Users who snort may have damage to the nasal cavity whereas meth injection requires paraphernalia like syringes and tourniquets. Additionally, an addict who has been injecting meth intravenously may have “track marks” on their skin, which are visible veins that have sustained damage after repeated injections. If the addict is smoking meth, they may have a lighter and aluminum foil, a glass pipe, or another instrument like a light bulb.
- “Tweaking” – This term refers to the behavior of meth addicts who have gone an extended period without sleep. They may be paranoid and irritable; they may respond violently if provoked.
- Hallucinations – Reports of visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations are not uncommon from meth users.
- Sexual and Other Risk-Taking – Taking meth can lower an individual’s inhibitions. A person who is addicted to meth may have sex with unknown partners, with multiple partners, and/or without protection. Meth use is a particularly alarming problem in the gay community where it has undoubtedly indirectly contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
- Cognitive Deficits – Long-term meth abuse has been shown to cause problems with memory and general cognitive performance.
- Open Sores – Among the physical effects of meth is restriction of blood vessels contained in the skin. Users may feel as if they have bugs crawling under their skin, which makes them scratch their skin. Chronic users may eventually create open wounds by scratching obsessively.
- Acne – In combination with other signs, frequent outbreaks of acne could be a signal of meth abuse or addiction.
- Dilated Pupils – Although it can also be a symptom of other drug use, meth use can produce enlarged pupils.
- Grinding Teeth – An addict may grind his or her teeth while on meth.
Treating a methamphetamine addiction will require commitment and perseverance; however, it is important to intervene as soon as possible to avoid long-term negative repercussions.