- Mental Health»
Crystal Meth Effects, Use, and Addiction
My hope is this article will cause someone who’d consider trying meth to reconsider, that parents will discuss all drugs with their children openly, and notice signs of possible use. Meth has swept through the USA like a plague; it’s cheap and easy for any novice “cook” to make, in a full lab or even in one plastic bottle. Children are now being offered this poison as young as 11 years old! Sadly, we need to talk about drugs with our kids these days as early as age 10, even sooner in my opinion. If this article will stop just one person from even trying Meth, I will consider my goal accomplished. Lives are constantly touched and changed by this drug, numerous families, kids, and communities have been torn to shreds by its devastation.
I’m not passing judgment on people that use substances to feel good. Am I free of substances/addictions? No. I smoked for 17 years, I drink on occasion, and I take prescribed prescription drugs, and occasionally I've abused them. But I don’t use Meth. Just because Alcohol is legal, doesn't mean it can’t spiral someones life out of control, or prescriptions pills, or any other addictive thing. In fact, alcohol is probably a bigger offender than Meth because it is legal! Even healthy addictions can ruin someone’s life, by distracting them from their families and responsibilities. What about over-eating? Gambling? Working all the time? Even over-exercising? Addictions are addictions are addictions, but some are more devastating than others while being extremely unhealthy, and Meth likes to flaunt the fact that it is right at the top of the list.
Humans like to get high, that’s just programmed in us naturally. We were created with a “pleasure center” in our brain. It’s not so much getting high that we enjoy as it is the rush and release of our “feel” good neurotransmitter Dopamine. Being on a substance prevents us from feeling things we don’t want to feel. Past hurts, trauma, disappointments, things we are too busy or don’t want to think about. Sometimes addictions start off harmless, you use out curiosity, boredom, peer pressure. You have a good time, and then sometimes you cross the line from “casual use” to “abuse” and into addiction.
As children we’d spin and spin in circles until we were so dizzy we’d fall down. Or we’d binge on sugary foods and treats until we got that “sugar rush”. As adults we drink, smoke cigarettes, smoke pot, over-eat, become obsessed with dieting/working out, take hallucinogens, become sex addicts, become adrenaline junkies, gamblers, take pills, or get into harder drugs like coke, meth, crack, etc…all these things release Dopamine and endorphin's. And that feels good!
Meth Street Names
Crystal, crank, meth, ice, speed, chalk, Yabba, fire, Tina, yellow bam, trash and tweak
What is Methamphetamine
Meth is a nasty concoction of chemicals that are neurotoxic to the brain and body, as most drugs are. But I’m strictly talking about the street grade meth here, not to be confused with Adderall (which is just legal pharmaceutical grade meth, and can be just as devastating to someone’s life).
So…what is in Meth?
Here are some of the nutritious ingredients;
- Acetone –nail polish remover!
- Lithium-this is found in batteries, yum!
- Toluene-and industrial feedstock and solvent
- Hydrochloric acid-mainly used for household cleaning, delicious!
- Red phosphorous-used in detergents, pesticides, and matches
- Pseudoephedrine- a synthetic nasal decongestant
- Sodium hydroxide-mostly used to produce soap and paper
- Sulfuric acid-Sulfuric acid is a diprotic acid and shows different properties depending upon its concentration, it’s corrosive to skin and flesh, and mainly used as a great drain cleaner!
- Anhydrous ammonia –a colorless HIGHLY flammable toxic stinky gas, it’s a building block for the synthesis in pharmaceuticals. And it’s primarily used as a commercial refrigerant and fertilizer
What a great list of ingredients to snort, smoke, shoot with an IV, or shove up your ass! Right? Toxicity at its finest, imagine pouring a cup of this crap directly on your brain, that is what you're basically doing when you use this drug.
It can’t be that bad if it feels so good?
People use meth because of the rush it causes to the Dopamine levels in the brain. Like most substances, you use because it alters your state of reality and makes you feel good. When you use this drug you are full of energy, on-top of the world, invincible, and feel like suddenly every good quality you've had has been amplified and magnified! You feel fantastic! Your self-esteem has sky rocketed! You are the best thing on the planet! Everything you could do sober, you now can do better, faster, stronger. Even mundane tasks are fun now.
This drug surpasses the natural high from sex, and makes cocaine seem like a joke, again, this is due to its direct effect on the neurotransmitter Dopamine. The flood of Dopamine is what’s making you feel so great! You’re brains response to a sudden onslaught of poison.
Sometimes this addiction can start off as innocently as a powdery dash in your morning coffee for an extra “boost” to get through your day. Maybe you’re a single parent and you start using it to get your endless list of chores done. Maybe you think you can use a little just for some rapid weight loss. Or maybe you’re just at a party and try it out of curiosity.
Meth quickly can become the only thing you think about and need, and therefore isn't even worth the good feelings you initially get. But you don’t know that yet…
What signs would cause suspicion of use?
- Users are animated
- Users have an abnormal amount of energy, sometimes staying up for days
- They may fidget or be jumpy and twitchy. They may pick at themselves incessantly
- May be very talkative, talking in circles and not making any sense
- May engage in odd sexual behavior, marathon f%$#@&, multiple sex partners in the same day
- May do mundane tasks obsessively, such as cleaning, drawing, painting, or other repetitive tasks
- They will have dilated pupils
- They may have strange sleep behaviors, staying up for days then sleeping for days
- Loss of appetite, they will lose weight quickly with repeated use
- Rapid weight loss, and when not high they will grave fatty greasy or sugary foods
- May be excessively sweaty, from very little physical activity, if any
- May have an unusual sweet yet pungent smell, similar to cat urine!
- May have outbursts, mood swings, and can become violent, unpredictable, and paranoid
- Other common drug behavior…finding paraphernalia, stealing, lying, borrowing money, missing work, etc…
I've seen some of the strangest behavior of people using meth. I'm talking about behavior they would NEVER be involved in even under the influence of other substances. Meth changes the way people think, it just does. I guess the second runner up to me would be LSD but that is not even comparable. People get crazy when sleep deprived, meth creates sleep deprivation. Meth can keep you up for days speeding, it’s just that crazy. Some people become extremely violent and unpredictable; they hallucinate and think imaginary things are out to get them. Others develop really perverse sexual preferences and act out things they normally would not. We’re talking masturbating until they are raw and need medical care, role reversal, homosexual sex, child and animal abuse. Some people obsessively clean and pick at their bodies believing they have “meth bugs”, or they spend hours “carpet surfing” for meth crumbs. Others believe they see demons, or “shadow people”, I've even seen people refer to themselves as a second person, as if their body on meth is a completely different personality/entity/person. I could see the entertainment value of this the first few uses, but by the time the humor wears off, most users are hooked. At least with LSD you can walk away from it at any moment. Being spun on meth is not funny, and usually the user is scared when they experience some of the unpleasant symptoms of use.
In my opinion, there are very few functional addicts, regardless of the substance, although some people do manage to hold it together for a while. But it’s really just a matter of time before the drug takes priority. If you've tried Meth and didn't get addicted good for you, it probably was not your drug of choice. If it was your “choice drug” within the first few months of use, you’ll have extreme weight loss, you may find yourself awake for 4+ days at a time and sleeping just as many, you’ll forget to brush your teeth and take care of yourself. Most meth users also abuse other substances, alcohol, ecstasy, benzos (Xanax, Kpin), pot; they typically use these to lessen the blow of the crash when coming down from a bender.
How an addict thinks and behaves
- How a drug addict thinks, feels and behaves
Drug addiction is painful not only to the addict; mentally and physically, but to all family members, friends, children, communities. Here is a snapshot of what behavior you may see from an addict...
Have a look at Meth Mouth
- Your Mouth After Meth
Ever wonder what happens to your oral health from Meth abuse?
What you may expect from a meth addict:
- Devestation to ones physical health
- Lies, secrecy
- Financial ruin
- Insomnia and hypersomnia
- Anorexia, sunken eyes, premature aging
- Frequent lung infections and chest colds
- No “self-care”, unkempt, unclean appearance
- Strange appearance
- Hollow look in eyes “machine is running, but no one is behind the wheel”
- Dental problems and tooth decay
- Acne and “picking scars” from imagined skin crawling
- Hair loss
- Use of other drugs
- Immature behavior (being 35, and acting 18)
- Finding paraphernalia
- Lots of mood swings
- Inability to hold a job
- Inability to pay bills
- Inability to take care of pets or children
- Criminal record history
- Violence and abuse
- Legal issues, such as child services being called or complete removal of children from a home
- Ultimately continued use could result in the grim reaper making an early visit.
In some cases, permanent brain damage (even if not permanent you can still expect some damage that takes a long time to go away, like 1-3 years after quitting!) and psychosis are the result, and don’t forget incarceration. Meth is quick to wreck your life, your kids, your career, your looks; it wants everything you have, including your soul. Think of it as an abyss that is never full and it’s slow to rot your body. Meth is EXTREMELY damaging to your heart, brain, skin, lungs, kidneys, it poisons your entire body and life. This drug mix literally rots you from the inside out, and ages you physically at an alarming rate.
Now for the important part-helping someone quit
How can you help someone quit meth? Well…first off, like any addiction, this is work they need to do, and once they express the desire of being ready to quit forever, you can help. You can be supportive, but do not ENABLE. I won’t go into failure rates of Meth, the stats are staggeringly high, and the focus should be on staying off this drug, period.
Before helping anyone with addiction, set your boundaries of what you will and will not tolerate, addicts are famous for making sober people feel crazy. Chances are you’re angry, hurt, sad, worried, heartbroken, anxious, and exhausted, especially if children have been affected, and they usually are. You may be a grandparent raising your grand-kids; of course you will be full of anger and resentment. You love your grand-kids but it’s not your job to raise them, you raised your kids already! Just try to focus on the kids, they didn't have a choice. Addicts lie and they manipulate, they neglect and abuse, they are disrespectful, selfish, some never take responsibility for their addictions, and they do this because their toxic brains will do anything possible to get more of the drug they need to feel normal.
Boundaries to consider creating:
- Don’t talk or communicate with them after a certain time of day. Especially if they have certain times they “use”
- Don’t be a taxi and drive them around
- Don’t lend them money
- If the addict is damaging to a child (their child) keep them away from their children
- Don’t care for them when they are “sick” from coming down or being hung-over. Meth is not like Opiates (Heroin, Oxy, and Tramadol). Withdrawal will not kill them. At most they will be extremely uncomfortable and depressed, but it will pass.
- If they are violent and putting your safety or children in danger, call the police.
- Don’t let them in your home when they are high, maybe you shouldn't let them in your home at all, depends on your specific situation
- If you have a Minor child using, consider a “Trainspotting” move, and lock them in a room for a few weeks and force detox.
- Love is tough, but sometimes tough love is the answer
- Keep in mind, unless you've done this drug, you do not know firsthand how this drug terrorizes the mind and body.
Sometimes all your efforts will be without reward. Sometimes people just write the addict off and give up. That’s OK too. They chose to use, choices have consequences. It’s not your job to save them. None of us has a choice where we came from, but we can all have a choice to make better choices.
If you are going to help them, try not to judge, life throws people all kinds of curve-balls, most addicts know they have a big hole to dig out of, they know they've damaged their life, their health, their careers, and most importantly their relationships. They really don’t need to be reminded every minute, regardless of how angry you are, how badly they f&$#@! everything up. But remember boundaries are necessary for you, and for the user to get better!
Boundaries are necessary for you, and for the user to get better!
Life after Meth
Helping a Meth Addict Recover
Alright, so how can you help?
- Help them find a local treatment facility-therapist counselor, or NA or AA group. Offer to go with them if they are scared. Abstinence means drug free, recovery means dealing with the emotions that led to the abuse in the first place. Suggest when ready, they volunteer helping other addicts.
- Remind them that quitting is never easy, the longer they put it off, the harder it will be
- Withdrawal sucks, but it only needs to happen once. With meth, a lot of family and support from loved ones will be needed. Behavioral counseling can help for everyone involved.
- Sometimes the user needs to move away from all triggers and reminders and familiar users and places, help them move if possible
- If moving is not an option, tell them to consider changing their phone number, get rid of any drug related contacts
- An obvious one-get rid of any materials related to use, all paraphernalia in the house, car, anywhere it might be. Get rid of it
- Tell them to avoid any activities that remind them of using, this includes certain friends, and places.
- Tell them to try alternative therapies to ease withdrawal. Acupuncture, nutritional supplements and some herbal remedies can be very helpful for reducing cravings, balancing moods and regulating sleep. Health food stores and natural health clinics are good sources for information. Nutritional support is a must in any type of drug related recovery, the body and brain needs all the help it can get to heal.
- Help them exercise, and find hobbies, boredom is a big enemy for recovering addicts, being sober can be, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.
Every road to recovery is different. Techniques will vary on what works for some and not for others. Remember, recovery takes time, and sometimes it takes more than one attempt.
- How To Set Healthy Personal Boundaries
Setting healthy personal boundaries is important for self-preservation. Sometimes we neglect ourselves for the sake of others, which is not always healthy. Read on to re-establish your boundaries
Have you ever tried Meth?
© 2013 Rebecca