Signs & Symptoms of Methamphetamine Addiction

Bayside Marin is a premier rehabilitation center dedicated to the treatment of meth addiction in California. Bayside Marin blends evidence-based treatments with alternative, holistic modalities to comprehensively treat all aspects of our client’s life.

Understanding Methamphetamine

Learn about meth and substance addiction

Methamphetamine, more commonly referred to simply as meth, is an illicit drug derived from the stimulant substance, amphetamine. As a drug that can be ingest by snorting, smoking, swallowing, or injecting, meth provides users with an almost instantaneous high that introduces profound and all-consuming feelings of euphoria. This euphoric high occurs as the result of meth’s ability to cause the brain to release excessive amounts of dopamine, which is the neurochemical responsible for controlling a person’s feeling of pleasure and overall state of wellbeing. As a highly addictive substance, once users have developed a dependence upon methamphetamine, it can be extremely difficult for them to put an end to this destructive pattern of behavior without professional help. The longer that a substance abuse concern of this kind is allowed to persist, the greater the amount of detriments becomes that a user will likely experience. All facets of a meth user’s life will inevitably be tainted by the consumption of this deadly substance. Fortunately, however, there are meth abuse treatment options available that can help put an end to this cycle of addiction and assist people in rediscovering a happy, healthy, and sober existence.

Statistics

Meth addiction statistics

The statistics regarding the prevalence of meth abuse are quite troubling. In the Midwestern part of the United States alone, methamphetamine accounts for approximately 90% of all drug cases for which people seek out professional treatment. In the United States as a whole, studies have demonstrated that an estimated 1.2 million people admit to using meth, with nearly 600,000 using this substance on a weekly basis.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction

There are believed to be a combination of factors that come into play when determining an individual’s susceptibility to developing an addiction to substances, such as methamphetamine. Mental health professionals and addiction specialists agree that the following causes and presented risk factors likely work together to play a role in the onset of an addiction to meth:

Genetic: Years of research on the topic has produced conclusive findings that genetics play a significant role in the onset of addiction. More specifically, variations in the composition of certain inherited genes have demonstrated that the hereditary link behind the development of substance abuse and addiction can cause addictions to be passed down from generation to generation. This means that, if an individual has a family history of substance abuse and addiction, he or she is at greater risk for suffering from an addiction him or herself than are individuals who do not share similar hereditary backgrounds.

Environmental: There are certain environmental circumstances that can make individuals more vulnerable to experimenting with the use of drugs, such as meth, and subsequently develop an addiction to or dependence on the substance. For example, being exposed to environments wherein substance use is prominent can increase an individual’s likelihood of engaging in the behavior at some point in his or her life as well. Additionally, when people are exposed to chronically stressful environments or are subjected to abuse or neglect of any kind, they are susceptible to experimenting with the use of drugs like meth as they search for a means of finding relief from the inner turmoil that plagues them.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Personal history of abusing other drugs and/or alcohol
  • Possessing a preexisting mental health condition
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Being the victim of abuse or neglect
  • Exposure to chronic stress, violence, or crime
  • Chronic exposure to the use of drugs and/or alcohol

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction

There are a variety of symptoms that may be displayed by an individual who is abusing methamphetamine. The specific symptoms that do present, however, will vary from person to person depending upon a number of factors. Examples of various behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms that may indicate that someone is struggling with an addiction to meth can include, but are not limited to, the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Sudden change in peer group
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Engaging in erratic or belligerent behaviors
  • No longer taking care of daily responsibilities and adhering to daily obligations
  • No longer participating in activities that one once enjoyed
  • Partaking in sudden, unprovoked aggressive outbursts
  • Alternating between talking incessantly or not speaking at all
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Drop in one’s performance at work
  • Frequent absences from work

Physical symptoms:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Decaying teeth
  • Lacking appropriate hygiene / foul body odor
  • Development of skin sores
  • Excessive acne
  • Onset of facial tics
  • Muscle spasms / twitching
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Alternating between episodes of insomnia and hypersomnia
  • Heightened blood pressure

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Decline in one’s ability to use sound judgment
  • Decline in one’s ability to use reason and make appropriate decisions

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Alternating episodes of hypomania and depression
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Decline in self-esteem
  • Frequent suicidal ideation
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Irrational feelings of fear and worry

Effects

Effects of meth addiction

Abusing methamphetamine can bring about countless detriments in an individual’s life. Not only will the user’s life be negatively impacted, but the lives of those who care about him or her will be significantly disturbed as well. When treatment is not sought to put an end to the deadly habit of meth use, the following effects have been known to occur:

  • Alienation of friends and loved ones, resulting in severe relationship disturbances
  • Marital discord, potentially resulting in divorce
  • Additional familial strife, such as losing custody of one’s children
  • Occupational failure, ultimately resulting in the loss of one’s job
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial strife
  • Deteriorated physical appearance
  • Overall decline in one’s mental health
  • Overall decline in one’s physical health
  • Weakening of one’s immune system
  • Contraction of such viruses as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C as a result of injecting meth via dirty needles
  • Chronic and pervasive suicidal ideation
  • Making attempts at committing suicide
  • Experiencing an overdose

Co-Occurring Disorders

Meth addiction and co-occurring disorders

There are many instances in which individuals who are suffering from an addiction to methamphetamine are simultaneously suffering symptoms that are synonymous with other mental health conditions. Examples of disorders that have been cited as occurring alongside the presence of an addiction to meth include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Additional substance use disorders

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal and overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal: When meth abuse has been a factor in an individual’s life but then that individual suddenly stops using it, he or she is going to experience a period of withdrawal. Not only uncomfortable in nature, the symptoms of meth withdrawal can also be life-threatening. For this reason, withdrawal from methamphetamine should be done under the supervision of qualified medical and/or mental health professionals. Examples of symptoms that can arise during the period of withdrawal from meth can include:

  • Rapid weight gain
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Overpowering and all-consuming cravings for the drug
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Strong, uncomfortable flu-like symptoms
  • Psychomotor tics
  • Suicidal ideation and making attempts at committing suicide

Effects of meth overdose: When the amount of meth that a person ingests is greater than the amount that his or her body is capable of metabolizing, he or she will experience an overdose. In the event that this should occur, it should be viewed as a medical emergency and treatment should be sought immediately in order to prevent a grave outcome. Examples of signs and effects that may indicate that someone has overdosed on methamphetamine may include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Experiencing extreme difficulty breathing
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Extreme chest pains
  • Losing consciousness
  • Lapsing into a coma

If you are looking for help and willing to work hard for recovery, go to Bayside. I haven't touched meth in over four years.

– Anonymous Client
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