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Navigation: Fighting Stigma With Proper Terms, Physical Signs, Behavioral Signs, Social Signs, Financial Problems, Seeking Help

Everyone is familiar with the drug methamphetamine, also known as meth, which is a highly addictive and dangerous substance. When taken, it can have devastating effects on a person’s physical and mental health.

This stimulant drug affects the central nervous system. It belongs to the amphetamine class of drugs and is typically seen as a white, odorless, crystalline powder that can be consumed orally, snorted, smoked, or injected. [1]

This drug was developed in the early 20th century from amphetamine, which is its parent drug. It was originally used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. However, meth is different in that much greater amounts get into the brain even at comparable doses. This makes it a more potent stimulant. While longer-lasting, it is also more harmful for the nervous system. [1]

Meth can increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. By overloading the brain with dopamine, meth creates an intense and immediate euphoric feeling. Users enjoy increased energy and heightened alertness for a certain period. This euphoric high is also what makes it extremely addictive.

Methamphetamine’s addictive nature is also rooted in its ability to rapidly produce tolerance. When a person develops tolerance, they suddenly need higher doses just to achieve the same effects. This leads to chronic use, which can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence.

It quickly becomes very challenging for people to quit without professional help.

Methamphetamine has long-lasting effects on the brain, damaging dopamine-producing nerve terminals, which can result in a reduced ability to experience pleasure and an increased likelihood of depression and anxiety. Not to mention this drug can also produce several dangerous health effects. It can cause rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, elevated body temperature, and irregular heartbeat, which may lead to cardiovascular problems, stroke, and even death.

It is therefore important to be able to recognize the warning signs of meth addiction before it develops into something worse.

In this article, we will discuss the signs of a meth addict and how to identify them so that you can get them the help that they need. But before we talk about these warning signs, we must first address the stigma of addiction.

Fighting Stigma With Proper Terms

Stigma remains one of the biggest obstacles towards addiction treatment and recovery. It refers to the discrimination against certain groups of people. In the context of substance use disorders (SUDs) such as meth addiction, stigma refers to the inaccurate and unfounded thoughts that addicted individuals are weak, dangerous, or have failed morally because of their condition. [2]

Stigma can reduce the willingness of people with SUD to seek treatment. This stereotyping can also lead to the desire to distance themselves from other people out of fear or shame. This only pushes them away and keeps the cycle of addiction going. [2]

While there are many causes of stigma, one of the ways it is spread is through the misuse of terms like “meth addict”. By labeling them as such, it dehumanizes them and removes the emphasis from their medical condition.

The language we use to describe people struggling with addiction plays a crucial role in shaping perceptions and attitudes towards them.

Using terms like “addict” can perpetuate stigma. It reduces their identity solely to their condition, overshadowing their humanity, complexity, and potential for recovery. This labeling can reinforce negative stereotypes and hinder efforts to encourage understanding, empathy, and effective support systems for those in need.

By shifting away from using terms like “addict,” we can foster a more compassionate and empowering community. Remember that language has immense power; it can either support or impede an individual’s journey toward recovery.

Embracing person-first language, such as “individuals with substance use disorder,” emphasizes their humanity before their condition.

More and more addiction experts are embracing this linguistic shift. It encourages empathy, respect, and understanding. It acknowledges that addiction is a part of their experience but not their defining characteristic.

Physical Signs

With that out of the way, let us talk about the physical warning signs of meth addiction. Some of the most obvious signs of this condition are found in the person’s physical appearance. Some physical signs can be subtle while others can be more pronounced. These signs often become more noticeable as the addiction progresses.

Addicted individuals might experience severe weight loss due to decreased appetite and increased metabolism caused by the drug.

Chronic meth use can also result in dental issues, often referred to as “meth mouth”. This is characterized by severe tooth decay, gum disease, and teeth grinding, leading to broken or damaged teeth.

Another noticeable sign is the presence of skin problems and sores. Methamphetamine can cause users to hallucinate, leading them to pick at their skin obsessively, resulting in open sores, scabs, and scars, particularly on the face and arms. These skin lesions may be caused by the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin, a sensation known as formication, prompting them to scratch or pick at their skin in an attempt to remove these imaginary bugs.

Meth can cause increased wakefulness and physical movement. Short-term effects may include: rapid and irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and increased rate of breathing. Other people may experience hyperthermia, which refers to dangerously high body temperature. [3]

Dilated pupils, increased body temperature, and irregular heartbeat can also be observable physical symptoms of methamphetamine use.

If you suspect someone is struggling with meth addiction based on these physical signs, it’s crucial to approach the situation with care and seek professional help to guide them toward recovery.

Behavioral Signs

Methamphetamine addiction can also manifest through various behavioral signs. Loved ones may notice drastic changes in a person’s habits, demeanor, and priorities.

One notable sign is a significant shift in sleep patterns. People who are addicted to meth may stay awake for days or even weeks at a time. During this period, they may display excessive energy, talkativeness, and hyperactivity.

They may also appear unusually alert and exhibit rapid speech, often engaging in repetitive or obsessive behaviors. As the drug affects the brain’s pleasure centers, they may also display heightened confidence or euphoria, which can be mistaken for bursts of productivity.

Another behavioral sign of meth addiction is the neglect of personal responsibilities. People who are struggling with addiction tend to prioritize the drug over everything else. Addicted individuals may disregard their usual routines, neglecting personal grooming, regular meals, or work commitments.

Other warning signs to look out for include: insomnia, mood swings, confusion, memory loss, impaired verbal learning, chronic anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and violent behavior. [3]

It’s crucial to approach these signs with empathy and understanding, as addiction is a complex issue that often requires professional help and support for recovery.

Social Signs

As their priorities shift, their relationships may suffer in the process. This means recognizing signs of methamphetamine addiction also involves observing various social cues.

Their increased secrecy may cause them to withdraw from social activities or loved ones. Even when they do hang out with their friends and family, they may exhibit weird or erratic behavior like mood swings, paranoia, or agitation.

If they don’t end up isolating themselves, they may instead change their social circle. They may start associating more with people who are involved in drug use or even criminal activities. In the process, they may distance themselves from previous friends or family who don’t partake in these behaviors.

Pay attention to who they are spending time with or if they are spending time with other people at all. Changes in social circles may indicate a bigger problem with substance abuse.

Financial Problems

Meth is an expensive drug, and an addicted individual may struggle to maintain their addiction financially.

Methamphetamine addiction can lead to severe financial problems due to several reasons. For starters, the cost of sustaining a meth habit can be high.

Those who abuse meth tend to develop a tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect over time. This increased consumption leads to a constant need for more of the drug. In the process, it also leads to substantial expenses that can quickly drain financial resources.

Many addicted individuals resort to extreme measures like borrowing money or even engaging in illegal activities like theft or dealing drugs to fund their addiction.

The consequences of meth addiction can further impact a person’s finances. The drug’s effects can get in the way of their ability to maintain steady employment. It can impair their job performance or lead to job loss.

Unstable employment or unemployment due to addiction-related issues directly affects income, making it much more difficult to cover everyday expenses, let alone the high costs of sustaining a drug habit.

On top of all these problems, the legal repercussions of drug-related offenses can lead to fines, legal fees, and a criminal record. It can get in the way of financial stability and future job prospects.

If your loved one is stealing money or borrowing money for no apparent reason, this may have something to do with a drug problem. It may be worth looking into.

Seeking Help

If you suspect that someone you know may be struggling with a meth addiction or any other type of addiction, it is important to seek help for them.

Meth addiction is a serious and dangerous condition that requires professional treatment. Encourage them to seek help from a medical professional or a drug rehabilitation center. Remember, addiction is a disease, and with the right support and treatment, recovery is possible.

If you are the one with a meth addiction, remember that seeking help is an incredibly brave and crucial step towards reclaiming control over your life.

Acknowledging the need for assistance demonstrates strength and a desire for positive change. You’re not alone in this journey, and there are various resources available to support you through this challenging but worthwhile process.

Here are some common treatment options for meth addiction:

Medical Detox: In cases of severe addiction, a medically supervised detox can help manage withdrawal symptoms. Medications might be administered to ease discomfort and manage cravings. [3]

Therapy and Counseling: Addiction is not just a physical condition. It is therefore important to address its psychological effects and its underlying causes. Common therapies used in addiction treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management interventions, and motivational interviewing.

Family Therapy: Involves family members to create a supportive environment for recovery.

Individual or Group Therapy: Provides a supportive setting for discussing challenges and learning coping skills.

Support Groups: Programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) offer peer support and a sense of community among individuals facing similar struggles.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Addressing any co-occurring mental health issues like depression or anxiety alongside addiction.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Some medications might be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms or reduce cravings. However, there isn’t a specific medication approved for treating methamphetamine addiction yet.

Continued Support and Aftercare: Transitioning back into regular life post-rehabilitation often involves ongoing support through counseling, support groups, or continued therapy to prevent relapse. [3]

In conclusion, the signs of a meth addict can vary, but it is important to be aware of the physical, behavioral, and social signs. It is also important to recognize that an addicted individual requires proper medical assistance. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, look for a rehab center near you today.

 

Sources:

[1]: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-methamphetamine

[2]: https://nida.nih.gov/nidamed-medical-health-professionals/health-professions-education/words-matter-terms-to-use-avoid-when-talking-about-addiction

[3]: https://americanaddictioncenters.org/meth-treatment/signs-symptoms

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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