What is Crystal Meth? Abuse, Addiction and Available Treatment Options

Crystal meth abuse and addiction have been a problem in the United States for many years. This is a drug that seems to appear in cycles. There are periods when its popularity wanes, and then there are times when it seems to be found everywhere. Fortunately, there are treatment options available to help those who are addicted to it.

People often try crystal meth out of curiosity. They usually have tried other drugs in the past (namely marijuana and/or alcohol), and are looking for something more. What they do not realize is that this drug can lead to a quick addiction, and by that time, they feel stuck. We want you to know that it is possible to recover if you are addicted to this substance with the right type of support.

But first, it is important to understand the dangers of crystal meth. What exactly is it, and why should it be avoided at all costs? These are questions that we want to answer for you here.

What is Crystal Meth?

Crystal meth is a drug that has the chemical name of methamphetamine. It is one of the most dangerous street drugs in the world. The process that is used to make it is extremely toxic and hazardous. It is very addictive and has destroyed a countless number of lives.

This drug is generally a white, crystal substance (which is where it gets its name), but it may be found in other colors as well. When people abuse it, it creates a false sense of happiness and well-being. People who use it experience an intense rush of euphoria that results in confidence, hyperactivity and increased energy.

The high from crystal meth can last a long time; usually as long as six to eight hours. But there are times when it can last as long as 24 hours, depending on the dose.

On the street, crystal meth goes by a number of street names. They include:

  • Crystal
  • Tina
  • Crank
  • Speed
  • Shards
  • Ice
  • Whizz
  • Dope
  • Tina
  • Crissy
  • Go

Regardless of what it is called, crystal meth is dangerous. Some of its street names may be used to make it appear to be safer, but it is not by any means.

There are doctors who will use methamphetamine for medical reasons. When they do, it is sold under the name Desoxyn, and it is used to treat ADHD. This drug is a stimulant, and it can help improve the ability to pay attention and stay focused. It can also help to control behavioral problems.

There are even some doctors who will prescribe this drug for people who are significantly obese to help them lose weight. It can be an excellent appetite suppressant, and as you will see later, one of its side effects is weight loss.

When people do get a prescription for this drug, they are at a very high risk of abusing Desoxyn. They may take too much of the drug at once or misuse it in other ways solely for the purpose of getting high. This is because of the addictive nature of this drug.

More often than not, doctors choose a different drug for their patients. That is because methamphetamine is highly addictive, and it can be very difficult to get patients off.

Methamphetamine is a synthetic chemical that is usually made in hidden, illegal laboratories. In this way, it is different from cocaine, which comes from a plant.

People make crystal meth by mixing amphetamine or other, similar stimulant drugs with additional chemicals. This mixture boosts the drug’s potency. Meth cooks will use cold medicine as the basis for the drug. They extract the ingredients from the pills to make them stronger. After that, the resulting drugs are mixed with a number of different ingredients. Commonly used ones include:

  • Battery acid
  • Lantern fuel
  • Antifreeze
  • Drain cleaner
  • Ammonia
  • Pesticides

The cooking process is extremely dangerous because the chemicals can explode. It is not uncommon for meth cooks to burn themselves, or even blow up entire buildings when doing a cook.

Most of the ingredients that are used to make meth are so toxic that ingesting them could be fatal. Yet, every single day in the United States, people are cooking and abusing this dangerous drug.

This drug can be abused in a number of different ways. People can:

  • Vape it
  • Smoke it
  • Snort the powder
  • Swallow it in pill form
  • Dissolve the powder in water or alcohol and inject it

Smoking it, snorting it and injecting it are usually the preferred methods of use. They allow the drug to reach the brain much faster, and they tend to result in a more intense high.

The Effects of Crystal Meth

Crystal meth is considered to be one of the most dangerous drugs in the world is because of its ingredients and its effects. It does not take long at all before people begin experiencing the side effects. They keep using the drug again and again to experience their intensity, not realizing the damage they are doing to their bodies and minds.

The most common side effects of crystal meth include:

  • A dangerous increase in body temperature.
  • Feelings of anxiety.
  • Bouts of confusion.
  • The inability to sleep; insomnia.
  • Intense mood swings.
  • Violent outbursts.
  • Dull skin.
  • Sores and pimples that do not heal well.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Stained, rotting or broken teeth.
  • Paranoia and hallucinations.
  • Thoughts of suicide.
  • Feeling as though bugs are crawling under the skin.

People who use crystal meth are extremely likely to participate in risky behaviors. They may have unsafe sex, or they may try to drive a car. They are also at risk for HIV and a number of other illnesses and diseases.

Even when someone has only been using crystal meth for a short time, they are likely to experience some effects. This is a hard-hitting drug, and the short-term effects of it are as well.

The short-term effects of crystal meth abuse include:

  • Problems sleeping at night
  • Increased physical activity
  • A decrease in appetite
  • A fast or irregular heart rate
  • A faster breathing rate
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • An increase in body temperature

The longer a person uses crystal meth, the more damage it does to their body and mind. Many of the long-term effects of it are grotesque and even shocking. They include:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Severe issues with dental hygiene
  • Excessive itching, which leads to sores
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Possible liver damage
  • Possible brain damage
  • Heart damage
  • Kidney problems
  • Possible stroke

According to the American Dental Association, meth mouth is a growing problem in our country. It is characterized by severe gum disease and tooth decay. Both often lead to teeth breaking and falling out.

The ADA states that when they examined the mouths of 571 methamphetamine users, they found that:

  • 96% of them had cavities
  • 58% of them had tooth decay that had gone untreated
  • 31% of them had at least six missing teeth
  • Their teeth had blackened, were severely stained and were actually crumbling
  • Most of the time the teeth could not be saved and had to be removed

Meth mouth is a horrific condition, but it is one that users either tend to downplay, or not care about. What is most important to them is getting high.

Some of the effects of crystal meth may be able to be reversed. But there are those that will remain for the rest of the person’s life.

For example, sores or pimples on the body will be able to heal. The excessive itchiness will stop, and in time, the individual should gain weight, begin to sleep at night, and stop being anxious. But when the drug has done extensive damage to the body, some of those effects will linger.

If someone has suffered brain damage, heart problems and kidney or liver issues, those may not be able to be reversed. These conditions can and should be treated by a doctor, but it is possible that they will not go away.

Crystal Meth Abuse Statistics: A Worldwide Epidemic

It is interesting to take a look at some of the statistics about crystal meth abuse and addiction in the U.S., as well as the world.

  • It is estimated that the amount of amphetamine-type stimulant drugs (which includes meth) that are produced in the world is around 500 metric tons a year.
  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that there are 24.7 million meth abusers worldwide.
  • The U.S. government has reported that about 13 million people over the age of 12 have used meth.
  • Of that number, 529,000 of them are considered regular users.
  • Close to 5% of high school students have reported trying methamphetamine at least once.
  • In 1996, 3% of all treatment admissions were for meth and amphetamine addiction.
  • By 2006, that number had tripled to 9%.
  • There are states when the percentage is higher, and the highest one is 48.2%.
  • In 2017, 5.4% of people ages 12 or older reported ever having using meth.
  • That same year, 6.4% of people ages 26 and older admitted to using the drug at least once in their lifetime.

The trend of abusing crystal meth certainly does not appear to be changing anytime soon. Sadly, far too many people are too focused on getting high and not focused enough on the consequences.

The Difference Between Abusing Crystal Meth and Being Addicted

You may frequently hear people talking about abusing crystal meth and being addicted to it. These two words – abuse and addiction – are often used to mean the same thing. There is actually a difference between them.

First and foremost, please be aware than any use of crystal meth at all is considered abuse because it is illegal. When someone uses this drug for the first time, they are abusing it. They do not feel compelled to use it beyond their own curiosity of what the high will be like. Afterwards, they may stop with no desire to use the drug again at all.

Drug abuse refers to the misuse of a drug without feeling the need to do it. It becomes an addiction once that need is present. Someone who is addicted has to have crystal meth. They think about getting high all the time, and may not be able to focus on anything else. It becomes the single most important thing in their life.

You may be wondering, how do people get addicted to meth? It all begins with abusing it.

When people start abusing crystal meth, the euphoric high is quite addictive. People get high because of the chemical dopamine, which is released in excessive amounts in their brains. Dopamine results in a sense of well-being, but too much only intensifies this effect.

When someone uses meth, and then the high wears off, the brain’s dopamine levels are depleted. This drives people to use again in order to get that sensation back. What they do not realize is that over time, the brain loses the ability to make dopamine on its own. The result is that it is impossible for people to feel good – or even normal – without using. This is how abuse leads to addiction.

But what makes crystal meth different from other drugs is that an addiction can occur much faster. There have been times when people have gotten addicted after using the drug on only one or two occasions.

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Are You a Methamphetamine Addict?

With most types of addictions, the signs can be rather subtle. But it is not that way with crystal meth. People may demonstrate a wide variety of symptoms, but the addiction will probably be visible. That is because of the sores and the problems with the teeth.

There are also behavioral signs of addiction that should be evident as well. For example, addicts may:

  • Continue to use more and more of the drug to get the desired effects. This is known as forming a tolerance.
  • Go through withdrawal when it starts to wear off.
  • Have had several unsuccessful quit attempts in the past.
  • Truly have a desire to stop using, but feel unable to.
  • Obsess about using, and spend a lot of time thinking about how to get more and how the high will feel.
  • Be unable to stick to self-imposed limits on dosage or frequency.
  • Lose interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
  • Struggle with daily responsibilities.
  • Have issues with work responsibilities and productivity.
  • Act dangerously when using the drug.
  • Borrow or steal money to pay for crystal meth.
  • Keep the drug use a secret from friends and family.
  • Struggle with personal relationships.

It is not uncommon for people to have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that they are addicted. The signs may be evident to the rest of the world, but they remain in denial about their addictions.

If you are still unsure, it is vital for you to find out for certain if you are a crystal meth addict. It might help you to take a crystal meth addiction quiz to learn more about yourself. This quiz has been designed with your needs in mind, specifically. It can tell you how severe your addiction might be and what type of treatment you need to recover.

You may be someone who would much rather talk with someone about your substance abuse problem. If that is the case, then you might want to take advantage of a free phone assessment. Many drug treatment programs offer them, and they allow you to speak with a professional about your situation. That person can tell you if you need to consider getting help.

Crystal Meth in the News: Police Shut Down Drug Pipeline

An extensive drug pipeline that had been operating from Pennsylvania to northeastern Ohio has been shut down. The police charged the drug dealers with selling and trafficking both crystal meth and cocaine.

It was reported that the street value of the drugs was worth $1.5 million. That amount included 10,000 grams of crystal meth, among other types of drugs.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro noted that, “Crystal meth trafficking is on the rise, particularly in rural parts of our Commonwealth, and our agents and prosecutors will investigate and charge it whenever we find it. I’m proud to announce that the Akron, Ohio to Clearfield, Pennsylvania crystal meth pipeline has been shut down.”

This is a true victory, but the reality is that there needs to be so many more. This type of problem is present all over the United States. Every week, small town news stations are reporting about finding and busting meth labs. The same is true in the larger cities.

Quitting Methamphetamine and Your Options

Not only is crystal meth illegal, but as we have learned, it is also dangerous. These two facts alone should make anyone want to quit. Most of the time, people do want to stop using this drug, but they feel lost as to how to begin. They often turn to the Internet to find out about their options. There are several, but not all of them are safe.

People frequently stop using drugs abruptly, and sometimes there are no ill effects. For example, many users quit smoking weed cold turkey, and it is known to be the best method to use when quitting cigarettes. But when it comes to crystal meth, the withdrawal symptoms are likely to be much worse.

For someone who stops using meth cold turkey, they are likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Their cravings will be intense, and they may not be able to think about anything but getting high. They may even run into some complications that could require a visit to the emergency room.

When it comes to crystal meth, cold turkey is not the answer. It is a dangerous quit method that most likely will not work.

Pharmacies all over the country offer drug detox kits for sale. People are enticed by them because they appear to have the answers they are looking for. These kits contain a number of different types of supplies that are aimed toward reducing the severity of withdrawal.

It sounds wonderful, but the problem is that there are no FDA approved drug detox kits on the market. While the packaging may make all sorts of grand promises, they have really never been proven to be effective.

Some people promote the use of vitamins and supplements as a way to get off drugs like crystal meth. There are drug detox drinks that can be purchased in stores and online, and they all promise to work.

Supplementation is often a key part of the recovery process. But attempting it at home without professional knowledge could be detrimental. It is better to work with people who know the best ways to get addicts off this dangerous drug.

The best method of recovery is drug detox. This is a type of treatment that helps people feel better faster. Doctors should be careful to look at each case individually and prescribe the type of treatment that would benefit that particular person.

Detoxing helps by speeding up the process of toxin removal from the body. People tend to feel less intense withdrawals, and it contributes to their chances of long-term recovery. We will talk in more detail about drug detox in just a moment.

Crystal Meth Withdrawal

When stopping the use of crystal meth, it is typical to experience withdrawal. These symptoms begin because of how the body and brain have adjusted to having the drug regularly. Once the delivery of it stops, the brain and body do not know how to respond. This is why people experience strange symptoms and do not feel like themselves once they quit.

Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms from meth include:

  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Anger
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Problems with concentration
  • Intense cravings
  • Delusions
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive fatigue
  • A fever
  • Painful headaches
  • Lack of energy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paranoia and/or psychosis
  • Weight gain
  • Suicidal thoughts

These may only be a few of the symptoms people experience when they go through withdrawal. There can be differences based on how much crystal meth someone uses, and how often. A person who has been using it for a long time is likely to experience worse symptoms.

Withdrawing from crystal meth – as well as from any other type of drug – can lead to potential complications. It is possible to suffer from heart problems, have a stroke or even fall into a coma. Some people have had seizures, or suffered from other health issues.

Withdrawing from a drug is something that should never be taken lightly. Withdrawal can be dangerous in some circumstances. That is why it is best to recover with the help of professionals.

A lot of people wonder about the duration of withdrawal and what to expect when stopping the use of crystal meth. The timeline is different for everyone. If you are an addict, your recovery experience will probably differ from what happens to someone else. But in general, methamphetamine tends to go through different phases.

During phase one, people usually experience less energy and may have trouble functioning. This is known as the crash. There may not be any cravings during this time, and the amount of time they sleep tends to increase. This phase is usually experienced within the first three days.

Phase two is known as the craving phase, and it can last for as long as ten weeks. The cravings can become intense, and this is the hardest phase for people to get through when they quit cold turkey.

The final phase is known as extinction. Cravings tend to decrease, and many withdrawal symptoms stop altogether. There may still be some rebound withdrawals, but they should be fairly easy to manage during this time. This phase can last for as long as 30 weeks.

Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment: The Best Way to Recover

The best way to stop using crystal meth is to go through a quality addiction treatment center. This offers you the chance to heal from both the mental and the physical aspects of the addition.

This is very important because a drug addiction is never easy to overcome. There will be challenges along the way, but it helps when you understand the healing process. Your mind and your body are both addicted to crystal meth. Successfully treating your substance abuse problem means treating both parts.

What is Drug Detox and How Can it Help You?

As we mentioned earlier, drug detoxification is the process of eliminating toxins from the body. This is done through a series of treatments that help to control withdrawal and improve the body’s ability to detox itself.

There are several different ways that drug detox programs treat withdrawal. Most have settled on a combined approach that includes both medical detox and holistic treatments. This tends to produce the best results in people who are addicted.

Drug detox is a step that should be taken first, prior to any other type of rehabilitation program. This is because it is necessary to get the patient off the drug right away. Otherwise, they could experience complications, and also their treatment may not be as effective.

There are some drugs that require medically assisted detox prior to starting any other type of treatment. Crystal meth is on that list because it is a dangerous stimulant, and stopping it carries so many risks.

Medical detox means that the patient is placed on medications to help with withdrawal symptoms. They may be placed on several different drugs, such as:

  • An anticonvulsant if they are believed to be at risk for seizures.
  • An antidepressant to help with symptoms of depression.
  • Medication to help with anxiety or panic attacks.
  • A drug to help with nausea.
  • Pain medication to help with any discomfort.

For many people, going through medical detox has done wonders for them. They were able to successfully stop using and move on to the next phase of treatment.

Holistic detox is also an important part of the recovery process. It actually goes hand in hand with medical treatments. But the difference is that it does not involve the use of any medications.

During drug detox, patients will work with a nutritionist to create the right kind of diet. Most addicts are deficient in some necessary vitamins and minerals, and they need to start eating properly again. The nutritionist can help with this, and in the process, the dietary changes will improve the patient’s overall health.

Physical exercise is another important component of detoxing. When you sweat, your body eliminates toxins through your pores. You also experience increased dopamine and endorphins as your heart rate goes up through exercising. That is why it is recommended for everyone who is detoxing off crystal meth to start getting more exercise.

Drug Rehab for Crystal Meth Addiction

With the proper treatment, drug detox may only last a week to ten days. After that, people generally feel better, and they are ready to move on to the next step, which is drug rehab.

During drug rehab, patients begin the process of addressing the psychological part of the addiction. It is so important for them to learn and understand what it was that led to their substance abuse problem. Doing so will allow them to make changes in their lives and heal.

There are several different ways that drug rehab centers can help people with crystal meth addictions. But again, every person needs to be assessed to make sure they are getting the appropriate type of treatment.

Every patient will meet regularly with a therapist for individual counseling sessions. It is the therapist’s job to determine what it was that led to the addiction. Some people start using purely out of curiosity, and they were previous drug users. Others will start using because they feel depressed and want to find a way to get more energy and feel happier.

Many of the people who use crystal meth do so because they are suffering from a co-occurring disorder. This means that they have some type of mental health issue, and they use the drug as a way to self-medicate.

Any number of issues might result in crystal meth use, such as:

The best way to treat a co-occurring disorder is to treat it while the patient is in rehab. In the past, this was not the method most programs used. First, they would detox the person, and then they would get help for their mental illness.

Dual diagnosis treatment means treating both conditions at the same time. This method helps people connect their mental health issues with their substance abuse problems. They understand that one often causes the other, and they have a better chance of recovering from both of them.

Ignoring someone’s mental health issue when they have an addiction is always detrimental. More often than not, it only results in a relapse once rehab is over.

There are other forms of therapy that people generally participate in as well. Most people will attend group therapy during their drug rehab programs. These may be specialized groups that talk about a variety of subjects.

Family therapy is also another important part of the recovery process. Patients and their families have the opportunity to sit down and work through any issues they might be facing.

It can be very hard on a family when a loved one is suffering from an addiction. They often do not know what to do or where to turn. Family therapy helps them process everything that is happening in a healthy way.

Types of Rehabilitation Centers

Drug rehab facilities come in many forms, and not every method of treatment is going to work for everyone. Addictions and people are all very different, and likewise, they all have different needs.

There are several different types of rehab programs. There are benefits to all of them, but what is most important is for people to get the type of help that will work best for them.

Inpatient drug rehabs offer people one of the highest levels of care available. These programs usually last for about 28 days, and many of them include detox services. For most people with addictions, a higher level of care is necessary. Otherwise, their risk of relapsing is very high.

An inpatient treatment program offers support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patients have a team of professionals working to help them during every step of recovery. That is why people often choose this type of program. They need that support; otherwise, they probably will not be successful.

Intensive outpatient treatment programs, or IOPs, are an excellent way to recover from an addiction. The reality is that even when someone needs to go to inpatient care, it might not work for them. They may work, or they may have a family at home to take care of. When this is the case, an IOP offers them a great alternative.

IOPs usually operate during the evening hours, which is perfect for someone who works during the day. The participant can continue to live at home, but the treatment they receive is quite intensive. These programs often run for three to five days a week for several hours each time.

There are some people with addictions who need an even higher level of care. Many of them have a history of relapsing, and most have been through one or more inpatient programs. For these individuals, long-term rehab is a great option.

Often called sober living homes, or residential treatment programs, this type of rehab can last for several months. Residents live at a facility and get treatment while they are there. They may work with a case manager who helps them through the process of recovering.

Most people who need addiction treatment will first ask about outpatient rehab. This usually means working one on one with a therapist during regular appointments. Some programs may offer groups as well, but that is not typical.

Outpatient rehab is usually best for those who have already had a higher level of care first. Otherwise, this form of treatment might not offer enough support.

Continuing Treatment After Rehab

Once rehab is over, the hard work has just begun. Crystal meth addicts should be careful to remain in some form of treatment. For some this might mean moving from an inpatient program into an IOP or outpatient rehab. For others, it might mean attending Narcotics Anonymous. Regardless, the most important thing a recovering meth addict can do is to continue to seek help.

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Getting Help for Your Crystal Meth Addiction

At Northpoint Recovery, we know exactly what you are going through. So many of our staff members are recovered addicts themselves. We know that it is very hard to recover from an addiction, but we are confident that we can help.

Do you have more questions about crystal meth addiction or treatment? If so, please contact us right away.

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Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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