Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause severe addiction and physical problems with short-term or long-term use.
The drug can be taken in several forms, including a powder which is inhaled through the nose as well as a liquid that is taken intravenously. Another form of methamphetamine is a rock crystal, known as crystal meth, which is superheated in a glass pipe until vapors emerge that are then smoked.
Crystal meth addiction is becoming more prevalent as users learn that smoking the drug increases the speed with which it reaches the brain.
Immediate Physical Effects
When an individual uses crystal meth, their body reacts almost immediately. The effects, while quick, only last for a few moments. They are followed by a “crash.” The drug is still in the body, but in order to maintain the “rush,” the user must take more of it. This contributes to the highly addictive nature of crystal meth.
- Increased alertness and physical activity
- Rapid and irregular heart beat
- Increase in body temperature (even moderate activity will produce excessive sweating)
- Raised blood pressure
Consistent use can lead to less euphoria as the body develops a tolerance for the methamphetamine. This can mislead crystal meth addicts into believing they are not adversely affected by the drug, but that the drug enhances their ability to perform specific, targeted tasks, such as exercising or cleaning their homes.
Long-Term Health Effects
One of the most obvious long-term effects of crystal meth use is the effect on the teeth. Because of the corrosive nature of the vapors, an individual who has used crystal meth for a significant period of time will suffer from severe dental issues that could result in the need to remove all the teeth and replace them with dentures. The loss of teeth can result in more than cosmetic issues, and also lead to malnutrition if the individual does not seek proper dental care. Infections of the gums and jaw can also cause the spread of infections to the blood and other parts of the body, resulting in sometimes life-threatening medical problems.
In addition to the cosmetic and health concerns of tooth decay and loss, an individual who suffers from crystal meth addiction will often have a poor complexion that worsens over time. A significant symptom of crystal meth addiction is the inability to stop oneself from picking at their flesh or disturbing unhealed wounds.
- Mood disorders
- Aggression leading to violence
How Common Is Methamphetamine Abuse in the US?
Each year, a group called Monitoring the Future conducts a survey of students between the 8th and 12th grades. In the most recent survey, conducted in 2010, they discovered that 2.3 percent of high school seniors had abused meth in their lifetimes. Among 10th graders, that number grew to 2.5 percent. The lowest percentage, 1.8 percent, belonged to the youngest members of the survey in the 8th grade. However, while the percentage of 10th and 12th grade students admitting to using meth in their lifetime fell, the percentage of 8th graders who have used the drug rose from the previous year.
Surprisingly, a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) found that individuals who live in smaller metropolitan areas or even rural communities were more likely to try meth for the first time. Those individuals who live in large metropolitan areas were the least likely to begin using any form of methamphetamine.
The Effects on Families
When an individual becomes addicted to crystal meth, their condition affects their entire family. If they have children, they may find they are unable to properly care and provide for them emotionally, physically or financially. Because one of the significant indicators of addiction is the obsession with drug use regardless of the effects that abuse has upon others, they are unlikely to notice that their children or other family members are suffering until it is brought to their attention.
If the addict is caught with the materials in their possession, they will most likely spend at least one night in jail. If they cannot afford the bail to be released from jail, they may be incarcerated for several months prior to trial. The family members suffer significantly when this happens, with small children often being placed in foster care. The addict may find that, upon release, they are unable to regain custody of their children unless they successfully complete a treatment program.
Crystal meth addiction can prevent an individual from maintaining employment. The financial effects of this can result in homelessness, loss of children to the care and control of others, and even force the addict to commit crimes they would never have considered otherwise.
The best, and only, way to prevent these effects of crystal meth addiction is to seek help.
Regardless of the effects of crystal meth addiction on personal, financial and family relationships, many addicts will continue to use simply because their disease prevents them from seeing the actual ramifications of their actions. In years past, it was assumed that each addict had to hit their lowest point, or “rock bottom,” before they would, or even could, accept the notion of recovery.
As medical and psychological treatment professionals have unraveled the science of addiction, they have learned that this is not necessarily the case. Many addicts have chosen to seek help sooner when they have been confronted with the results of their addiction. An intervention is the process through which family, friends and professional interventionists can show the addict exactly what kind of damage their addiction has caused. This essentially raises the bottom to meet the addict and, when approached properly, can give the addict the incentive they need to seriously consider recovery.
When considering an intervention, it is important to seek the advice of a trained professional. An interventionist can meet with the intervening parties and help them prepare written statements which they will read to their loved one. The family members will also receive training on the disease of addiction to help them better understand their loved oneÍs behavior up to the point of the intervention.
It is also crucial that arrangements be made in advance for the addict to enter a detox facility, followed immediately by rehab, should they agree to seek treatment. Even a day of delay can result in a change of heart due to the overwhelming cravings and addiction.
Crystal meth addiction is a dangerous and cutthroat disease that can destroy lives. The key to finding health and happiness on the other side of addiction is found in recovery programs designed to save the lives of the ones you love.