National Meth Awareness Day
Each year on November 30th, we observe National Meth Awareness Day. On this occasion, we seek to educate the public about methamphetamine and how it impacts families across America. Please join us in spreading awareness about this substance, signs of addiction and the risks of using meth.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine – often shortened to “meth” or nicknamed ice, blue or crystal – is a highly addictive stimulant which acts on the central nervous system. It may take the form of a white, odorless powder or bluish white crystals. Users snort, smoke, inject or orally ingest math.
This drug was developed in the early 1900s, when it was used in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. Methamphetamine was created from its parent drug: amphetamine. Today, most meth in the U.S. is produced by small clandestine labs in Mexico. These laboratories use over-the-counter ingredients like pseudoephedrine, a common cold medication, to make their drugs, which are then trafficked into America. Methamphetamine usually arrives to the States in liquid or powder form, where domestic labs transform it into crystal meth. Like other illicit drugs, this substance is sometimes laced with fentanyl: a dangerous opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.
Because it is a stimulant, meth causes hyperactivity, talkativeness, reduced appetite and euphoria. In contrast to cocaine, a stimulant which is fast-acting and quickly metabolized, methamphetamine remains in the body for a much longer time. These two drugs also act very differently; cocaine blocks re-uptake of dopamine. Meth does this too, but it also increases dopamine release in the brain. This substance is incredibly potent and poses significant health risks to those who use it.
A Dangerous Drug
According to a national survey conducted in 2017, approximately 1.6 million Americans reported using meth in the past year. The average age of a new user? Just 23 years old.
Even in small doses, meth can cause significant short- and long-term side effects. These include…
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Hyperthermia (high body temperature)
- Attention deficit
- Wakefulness and insomnia
- Memory loss
- Reduced appetite
- Changes to brain structure
- Repetitive motor activity
- Violent behavior
- Mood disturbances
- Hallucinations (visual or auditory)
- Development of a tolerance
- Withdrawal symptoms
Signs of Meth Addiction
Meth is an extremely addictive substance with severe health consequences. Because it presents such significant symptoms, the average person is easily able to identify its abuse. If you believe that someone you love is using methamphetamine, we encourage you to contact an accredited treatment center today.
First, meth addiction causes noticeable physical changes. People who use this substance often experience rapid, extreme weight loss. Their clothes probably fit loosely, and they are often unkempt. Their skin might seem dull or slack. Often, this drug causes severe dental problems – you may notice that your loved one’s teeth have begun to yellow or rot, even if they always had great dental hygiene. They probably also have sores on their body caused by intense scratching. While a person is high, you may observe the rapid eye movements characteristic of meth abuse.
When someone is addicted to meth, their behavior changes, too. They may enter a binge and crash cycle, during which they stay awake for days at a time. People on crystal meth often hallucinate the feeling of bugs crawling on their skin, which leads to scratching and picking behaviors. They may become paranoid or see and hear things that are not there. Unfortunately, meth use can also lead to violence or criminal behavior.
General signs of addiction apply to methamphetamine as well. For example, people with almost any substance use disorder will experience financial difficulties, have strained relationships, participate in secretive behavior, perform poorly at work or leave paraphernalia around. Look out for small baggies fastened with twist ties, aluminum foil strips, short straws, glass tubes, lighters, spoons or syringes. While your loved one may do their best to hide their drug use, these items may provide evidence that help is needed.
Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction
There is help for those struggling with methamphetamine. Behavioral therapies like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) are especially useful in the treatment of meth addiction. Ideally, a treatment center will combine one-on-one CBT counseling with other modalities, such as group sessions, family education, the 12 Steps and experiential therapies.
If you believe your loved one is using meth, we are here to help. Cumberland Heights has helped countless people to overcome addiction and embrace life without substance use. For more information about our individualized treatment plans, please contact our admissions team.