Welcome to the beginning of your journey to recovery from methamphetamine, better known as meth, and one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. The potential side effects are devastating, and tend to occur shortly after use begins. Meth is an extremely potent CNS (central nervous system) stimulant. It is smoked, snorted, or injected. Meth is also known as speed, crank, ice, tweek, or Tina, among other names. The ISCD, or Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, named meth the third most dangerous drug known to man, behind only heroin and crack cocaine.
On rare occasions, methamphetamine is prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and for obesity, and only when other forms of therapy have been ruled out. This is not because it is ineffective… this is because meth is extremely dangerous, and extremely addictive.
Meth is abused worldwide, but most prevalently in Asia and the US, where it is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance. The vast majority of meth that gets consumed, however, is made by rogue chemists in what are known as meth labs.
Beginning as early as 1989, meth abuse in America reached epidemic levels. In fact, yes we are currently facing a horrifying opioid epidemic, and right there in its shadow is the meth epidemic. With meth, we’re talking about a drug that kills more than ten US citizens every single day. Over one million Americans are meth abusers at any given time, and it’s been so for the last six years.
Considering the excessive danger in how illegal meth is produced, the extreme danger in consuming the drug, and some of the horrifying side effects it produces, many believe methamphetamine is the single most dangerous drug ever known.
In a 2005 Newsweek article titled America’s Most Dangerous Drug, former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was quoted as having said: “In terms of damage to children and to our society, meth is now the most dangerous drug in America.” Now consider this. The year Gonzales said that, there were 2,161 kilograms of meth seized and there were 17,619 meth lab seizures. Three years ago, there were 2,946 kilograms of meth seized and yet there were only 9,338 meth lab seizures.
There was more meth in ’14 than in ‘05, but only about half as many lab seizures.
In the graphic below, the blue line represents the amount of meth seized. Consider the numbers to be in grams, but multiply by 100. (For example, in 2005 there were 2,161 kilograms seized, or 21,610 grams X 100 grams). The red line represents the number of meth labs seized.
This is a comprehensive article that takes you through the signs and risks of methamphetamine abuse, and will show you how to recognize abuse signs and risks in order to help someone in need. We’ll also cover what withdrawal from meth can be like, and finally what The Haven Detox has to offer in the way of detoxification, the extremely important first step toward recovery.
If you wish only to read about our detoxification process itself, please scroll down and begin reading at the section titled About Our Methamphetamine Detox Program. Otherwise, please continue to read on. We wish you the absolute best of luck, but with help from us here at The Haven, luck is something you may not need! Our ample staff and top-notch doctors are ready, willing and able to help you today.
Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse
It’s important to recognize the signs of meth abuse, especially since it is so widespread. It’s also important to know that any use, outside of legally prescribed and responsible use, is abuse. Just because there was a super popular TV show about a man named Walt who cooked meth does not mean it is an acceptable thing to do.
Signs of meth abuse are actually quite obvious, for the most part, and especially in the long-term. Something called “meth mouth” is an obvious symptom of long-term abuse, and consists of rotting gums and teeth. Methamphetamine is a volatile substance that lays wreckage to the human body when abused.
If you suspect someone of abusing meth, signs include:
- Extremely high energy levels
- Dilated pupils
- Darting eye motions
- Excessive sweating
- Unusually impulsive actions
- Inability to sit still
- Elongated lack of appetite
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Violence or unusual aggression
- Meth mouth (covered more in depth later on as a long-term risk)
Risks of Meth Abuse
The crimes that people have committed while high on meth involve some of the most heinous and unspeakable things imaginable. A mother on meth from Oklahoma put her baby into a washing machine and drowned the child. Another mother, this time from California, stabbed her newborn to death during a meth rage. In New Mexico, a third mother on meth stabbed her son under the belief that God wanted him dead.
Meth is a stimulant with effects that last up to 50 times longer than those of cocaine, meaning one hit can keep you up for days without sleep. Hearing voices in your head, experiencing strong hallucinations, and complete psychosis are relatively commonplace among meth addicts.
California is actually the hub of American meth, particularly the Central Valley. Fresno County is essentially in the middle of Central Valley, and has one of the highest meth abuse rates on the planet. Margaret Mims is sheriff of Fresno County, and she said this to USA Today in 2012: “It drives more crime than other drugs do. Meth is in its own category, because it’s so much more addictive than other drugs.”
The risks associated with methamphetamine abuse, both short-term and long-term, are among the most severe out of all drugs.
Short-term risks include:
- Rapid heartrate
- High blood pressure
- Tremors and/or convulsions
- Coma and/or death
Long-term effects of meth abuse are way more intense than short-term ones. They include:
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Skin lesions and/or sores that don’t fade
- Financial problems
- Job loss
- Violent, erratic behavior
- The sensation that bugs are crawling under your skin
- Loose and/or unhealthy-looking skin
- Memory loss
- A variety of infectious diseases, especially if injected
- Domestic and/or child abuse
- Heart attack
- “Meth mouth”
- Coma and/or death
The phenomena known as meth mouth occurs when a user’s teeth and/or gums decay to the point of either falling out or disintegrating. A few things go into why meth causes such oral problems. One factor is that long-term meth abuse naturally lowers the amount of saliva produced. This causes enamel erosion and periodontal disease. Another factor is that a side effect of meth use is grinding of the teeth, which over time can cause significant tooth damage. Yet another factor is that meth addicts tend to lack oral hygiene. One last factor is that meth addicts tend to have very poor diets, and prolonged consumption of sugary drinks causes a world of dental problems.
Recognizing Methamphetamine Abuse & Stepping In
If you or someone you know is abusing meth, now is the time to step in. You can intervene, and begin the process of helping. Of course, you can step in and help yourself too, if you’re the one with the problem. As with all illicit substances, abuse soon leads to addiction. One hit could kill you. What high could possibly be worth that?
Stepping in and intervening to help someone we know has a problem is always easier said than done. We love these people, and we do not want to hurt them, but we love them enough to know they are hurting themselves, and perhaps at a deadly rate. In such extreme cases, professional intervention is recommended. When it comes to trying to help someone you love, keep these tips in mind:
- Do not call the person an addict or even accuse them of being an abuser.
- Do not demand the person seeks help. Simply state your concerns.
- Encourage the possibility of help, but do not be forceful.
- Maintain the rapport you already have with the person. Acting differently will likely arouse suspicion.
Withdrawal from Meth
We are not here to sugarcoat anything. The withdrawal process from methamphetamine is usually grueling, lasting anywhere from 1 to 40 weeks. Yes, you read that correctly. It is slow, it is difficult, and it is literally the healthiest thing you can do as a meth user.
Due to the extreme nature of meth, and that there is nothing quite like it chemically, the withdrawal process is a bit unique. Experts have come to agree that there are basically three parts to a meth withdrawal: the crash, the craving, and the recovery. The crash is the comedown, and usually consists of sleeping and eating. The craving is the hard part. Here is where the most severe withdrawal symptoms occur. Then, the recovery is the lengthiest process, during which cravings subside and eventually cease.
Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Extreme fatigue (Crash)
- Increased appetite (Crash)
- Anxiety and/or panic and/or nervousness (Crash)
- Paranoia (Crash)
- Mild hallucinations (Crash)
- Intense cravings for meth (Craving)
- Increased body temperature
- Feelings of powerlessness
Withdrawal symptoms are much more likely to occur, and much more likely to be worse, if an addict stops using without help. Meth presents some seriously dangerous withdrawal circumstances, and The Haven can provide all of the help necessary for a meth addict to begin the path to recovery. The first step, as mentioned, is detoxification, commonly called detox, which safely and effectively removes all traces of meth from the body.
About Our Methamphetamine Detox Program
Crystal meth is classified as an amphetamine, an extremely addictive central nervous system stimulant requiring meth detox to safely treat addiction. Addiction to methamphetamine is so destructive that many chronic users risk stroke, brain damage, coma or death, and detoxing from crystal meth will be more stable and comfortable in a program equipped to address symptoms as they arise. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found recently about 10.4 million Americans age twelve and over have used methamphetamine at least once in their life. Meth is used by people of all demographics, from recreational party-goers, to individuals with psychological conditions generating a predisposition for stimulants. Crystal meth addiction causes an individual to change physically and psychologically, and while some changes may be permanent, many can be reversed if recovery is sustained.
Detoxing from Methamphetamine
Many of the concerns regarding how to detox from meth addiction center on the sometimes drastic changes which occur to someone with a chemical dependency. Chronic meth use directly changes the brain and body functioning constricting the blood vessels, and cutting off the steady flow of blood to all parts of the body. Heavy use will weaken and destroy these vessels, making skin likely to damage and preventing the body’s ability to repair itself. Addiction can result in collapsed jaw, rotted teeth, paranoia, delusions and psychosis. Methamphetamine affects brain chemistry, disrupting cognitive ability, leading to disturbing or violent behavior. Meth detox is composed mainly of psychological distress, and in some cases people have experienced psychotic breaks.
Methamphetamine Detox: What to Expect
With methamphetamine detox, it is important to treat the physical dependence and subsequent conditions as well as psychological and emotional associations with the drug and its effects. Patients are encouraged through a variety of methods, to discover and treat the root of their addiction. Through group and individual therapy, patients learn about their addiction and how to prevent relapse in the future. Our clinicians begin with a comprehensive evaluation of each client to gain a working knowledge of their medical history, history of abuse as well as psychological conditions which may be of concern. A physical evaluation, including a vision screening, will be completed.
Our team of professionals has experience working with patients detoxing from meth and have competent judgment for assigning a severity level based on variables such as age, number of years using, amount used per week, family history and any underlying mental disorders. Once the initial health assessment is completed, our clinical staff members work closely with patients to design a treatment plan tailored to individual needs. The continuum of treatment and comprehensive care offered at The Haven Detox ensures the ability to surmount the physical and psychological aspects of meth addiction. This achievement will promote the confidence necessary to begin building the tools essential to successfully engaging in long-term addiction recovery.