Methamphetamines, commonly known as meth or “crystal” (short for crystal methamphetamines), are an illegal drug that damages and often kills people who become addicted to them. Many people start experimenting with the drug without realizing they will end up suffering from the long-term side effects crystal meth causes.
What Is Meth?
Methamphetamines are a stimulant classified as a Schedule II drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It is found in the form of a white, odorless, crystalline powder that can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected. Meth was derived from amphetamines and was initially used as an ingredient in drugs like bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants.
Methamphetamines provide a greater potency compared to similar amounts of amphetamines, often resulting in more damaging effects to the central nervous system. Meth is a highly addictive drug, causing many casual users to quickly develop a reliance on it that requires detox and other professional treatment programs in order to stop using it.
A survey reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that as recently as 2017, 1.6 million people had used meth in the previous year. Of those, 964,000 had become addicted to it, resulting in having a substance use disorder.
Short-Term Effects of Meth Use
Even using meth just once can cause dangerous reactions in the body. Short-term usage can produce harmful results before an official addiction takes place. Some of the side effects from short-term meth usage can include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dilated pupils
- Acts of violence
- Convulsions and seizures
Long-Term Effects of Meth Use
A person who believes they are safe from the risks of long-term side effects is likely fooling themselves. The quick onset of addiction to meth and how it clouds a person’s thinking may mean they are already in danger of long-term risks, which can include:
- Organ damage, including kidney, liver, and lungs
- Damage to nasal tissue from sniffing meth
- Respiratory damage from smoking meth
- Brain damage similar to that of stroke and Alzheimer’s patients
- Damage to blood vessels
- Severe dental damage
- Abscesses and diseases from untreated wounds
- Panic attacks
Unexpected Physical Side Effects
Often the side effects crystal causes aren’t something a person addicted to the drug can predict or even recognize has started happening. Just one of the side effects can become the impetus for declining physical and emotional health, but most people who regularly use methamphetamines end up experiencing multiple damaging side effects.
Using meth causes the body to decrease its ability to send out hunger signals, often resulting in a person skipping meals or going for days without eating. This can result in weight loss and malnutrition, while not consuming enough water can lead to dehydration.
High dosages and chronic use of meth can invoke violent tendencies in many users. They may have delusions of power that accompany their aggressiveness, which can lead to situations that are dangerous for themselves and others. Law enforcement training includes teaching officers to recognize the signs of someone high on meth so they can implement countermeasures to control those who prove excessively violent and unresponsive to reasoning.
Another one of the side effects crystal can cause involves developing a false sense of a person’s physical capabilities. They may believe they have an unending energy source, thanks to meth, and push themselves into activities until the point of exhaustion. They are unable to see the signs that their bodies are worn out, often leading them to run themselves until they literally drop. Hitting that crash can cause extensive physical damage.
The Mental and Psychological Damage Done by Meth Addiction
Long-term use of meth can lead to permanent brain damage, impacting a person’s ability to lead a full life even if they eventually quit using the drug. Many addicts suffer from memory loss and wonder about what occurred during gaps in their memories that they cannot fill. Cloudy thinking can happen, meaning a person may have trouble grasping abstract thoughts and processing information.
An addiction to meth can bring with it mental health issues or complicate any mental illness diagnoses a person already has in play. Some of the mood disorder-related side effects crystal meth addiction can contribute to include anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and depression. While meth addiction contributes to the psychological damage that co-occurs, the opposite can also be true.
When an individual deals with symptoms of anxiety, panic, depression, and mood swings, they are likely to use their addiction to try to placate the symptoms and improve their moods. This makes the addiction and the mental illnesses become cyclical and part of a difficult pattern to break.
Meth Addiction Treatment in Palm Springs
Losing yourself to a meth addiction can make it seem like there’s no way out, but we can help. California Behavioral Health offers evidence-based treatment that is tailored to your exact needs, including addiction to drugs and alcohol and any co-occurring mental health diagnoses. We provide detox, residential treatment, and holistic therapies.
If you are ready to tackle your meth addiction and start your life over, contact California Behavioral Health today and let us show you how to get started.