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Crystal Meth: What to know

Published On: 25 September 2020

Addiction to illicit drugs remains one of the world’s major issues, and it will continue to be a difficult task to completely rid the globe of this menace. One of the oldest problems in the world involves a drug that a lot of young individuals fall prey to. In this article, we will look into the details of crystal meth use, withdrawal, and detox. Crystal meth is such a powerful drug that taking it for a long time may lead to serious effects. Read on to learn what to know about crystal meth. 

WHAT IS CRYSTAL METH?

Classified as an amphetamine, crystal meth highs last longer than that of other drugs, and the consequences of crystal meth use are frightening. The Drug Policy Alliance maintains that 11 million Americans, on at least one occasion, have tried methamphetamine and that number is rapidly increasing. 

Crystal meth is a synthetic chemical that is manufactured in laboratories in the US and abroad where mixing various forms of amphetamine with other chemicals increases potency. Extracts from cold pills are mixed with chemicals such as antifreeze, battery acid, drain cleaner, and lantern fuel. 

It is a dangerous and potent chemical and, as with all drugs, a poison that first acts as a stimulant but then begins to systematically destroy the body. Thus it is associated with serious health conditions, including memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior and potential heart and brain damage.

Highly addictive, crystal meth burns up the body’s resources, creating a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug. This vicious cycle of using and abusing develops a strong desire to continue using the drug as it creates a false sense of happiness and well-being.

As with any drug dependency crystal methamphetamine addiction causes the addict to change physically and psychologically. While some changes may be permanent, some can be reversed if the addict ceases to use crystal meth. 

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA) classifies crystal meth as a Schedule II controlled substance. This classification indicates that while the drug does have some medicinal uses, it is also potentially extremely dangerous, highly addictive, and prone to producing physical and psychological dependence in individuals who use it on a regular basis. 

Powerful and potent medicinal stimulant drugs like crystal meth, or methamphetamine as it also is known, are used in the control of sleep disorders like narcolepsy and developmental problems like ADHD. In some cases, they can be used to stimulate people who have conditions that make them very lethargic, such as those associated with strokes or other brain injuries.

Recreationally crystal meth is popular among young adults at dance clubs and parties. It is taken for its euphoric effects. Some people take it because it can lead to rapid weight loss, although most of the lost weight tends to return when a person stops using the drug. The body also gradually becomes tolerant to crystal meth, reducing the weight-loss effect over time.

WHAT IT DOES

An addiction to crystal meth directly affects numerous systems in the body, rapidly deteriorating basic functions and quality of life. But how does a crystal become one of the deadliest killers in history? 

Methamphetamine is different from and more dangerous than other stimulants because a larger percentage of the drug remains unchanged in the body. This allows the drug to be present in the brain longer, extending the stimulant effects.

Among the long list of negative effects of crystal meth, crystal meth abuse is also associated with physical ailments due to neglect such as tooth decay, malnutrition, and liver disease. Negative short term effects can also include disturbed sleep patterns, hyperactivity, nausea, delusions of power, increased aggressiveness and irritability.

LONG TERM EFFECTS

Regarding long term effects, crystal meth boosts the release and stops the reuptake of a neurotransmitter, or brain chemical, called dopamine. In this way, it increases the levels of dopamine in the body. The dopamine “rush” in the reward centers of the brain gives the user a sense of euphoria soon after taking the drug, but causes dopamine to build up in the brain.

When taken, crystal meth creates a false sense of well-being and energy, and so a person will tend to push his body faster and further than it is meant to go. Thus, drug users can experience a severe “crash” or physical and mental breakdown after the effects of the drugs wear off.

According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA), brain imaging studies on chronic abusers of crystal meth suggests that dopamine system activity changes in such a way that it can permanently compromise a person’s verbal learning and motor skills. 

Repeated use can have some long term psychological effects as well.

These include:

  • Anxiety irritability and aggressive or violent behavior
  • Decreased concentration
  • Hyperactivity and insomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation and compulsive skin picking, leading to skin sores
  • Repetitive and obsessive behaviors
  • Psychosomatic disorders, where an apparent physical symptom or ailment is caused by a mental disturbance
  • Increased energy, libido, self-esteem, confidence, and sociability
  • Delusions of grandeur with a sensation of power and invincibility
  • Hallucinations and paranoia

WITHDRAWAL AND DETOX FROM CRYSTAL METH

Crystal meth withdrawal involves a predictable set of symptoms, that gradually wear off as the body adjusts to the drug no longer being present. Withdrawal involves physical symptoms like fatigue and psychiatric symptoms like depression or psychosis. While the physical symptoms go away, the psychological symptoms like anxiety can last a long time.

A person can become addicted after using crystal meth only a few times. Crystal meth produces feelings of euphoria for up to 12 hours, and users crave its powerful effect again and again. Almost equal to the high of crystal meth, many times the painful withdrawal from this drug leads users back to the drug.  

Although the person’s physical system will be free of the drug after 2 to 3 days of stopping use, psychological symptoms will continue. Studies in the past discovered that crystal meth users may experience cognitive and emotional difficulties for prolonged amounts of time after discontinuing the use of the drug. 

Along with strong cravings and emotional turmoil,  uses can experience changes to brain chemistry including: 

  • agitation and anxiety
  • severe depression
  • fatigue and insomnia
  • Psychosis

Research shows that withdrawal from crystal meth consists of two phases. The first phase is most intense during the first 24 hours after last using crystal meth and gradually gets less intense over the next week. There is often a “subacute” phase lasting another couple of weeks.  This is known as “Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome”. 

Other factors can play a role in the duration and severity of withdrawal from crystal meth symptoms include:

  • A person’s mental and physical health before and during crystal meth use
  • The quality of the crystal meth the individual was using
  • History of other drug use, including alcohol

TREATMENT FOR CRYSTAL METH

Starting any drug treatment program is a difficult step to take. But it is the best first step towards your best life. It is often best to go through the meth detox and withdrawal process under the supervision of trained professionals. 

Drug rehabilitation programs can help people through the withdrawal process from crystal meth. They can guide them toward a drug-free life once withdrawal symptoms have passed.  

Detoxification is the process wherein the substance is gradually taken out of the system until such time that the individual would no longer experience the unfavorable effects of detoxification.

Meth withdrawal can be difficult, but there are some things that you can do to cope with your symptoms and make the process easier.

Avoid triggers: Certain situations or people can trigger your cravings. Be careful to avoid them during your withdrawal period in order to minimize the risk of a relapse.

Distract yourself: Although these cravings start out quite intense, the frequency and intensity of drug cravings gradually subside over two to five weeks. The best thing to do is to try to cope with the cravings until they abate. Find ways to keep busy and distracted so you don’t focus on these cravings.

Seek Help: The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that behavioral therapy is one of the most effective long-term treatments currently available for methamphetamine addiction. Two of the main types that may be used are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM).

Crystal Meth What to Know

Struggling With Addiction? You are not alone.

While meth withdrawal can be difficult, addiction is treatable and recovery is possible. Taking care of yourself during this time is vital. Overcoming a drug addiction is an uphill battle that is best tackled with the right team to help. For anyone concerned about a loved one who may have an addiction the first step is reaching out for the proper help. 
If you or a loved one live with opiate addiction, Daylight Recovery Center today. Calls are free and representatives are ready to get you or your loved one started toward recovery. Making the telephone call is the first step toward a healthier future.

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