Crystal Meth Addiction, Effects & Symptoms, Treatment
What Is Crystal Meth? Is Crystal Meth Addictive?
Crystal meth (also known as “crystal,” “ice,” “glass,” and “tina”) is a common form of methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant that affects the brain and the central nervous system. As with the powdered form, users of crystal meth are drawn to its stimulant and euphoric effects, but crystal meth has higher purity and more potential for abuse.
Typically smoked, it creates an immediate, intense sensation and has longer acting physiological effects than powder, increasing its addiction potential and adverse health consequences. Those can include cardiovascular problems, mood disturbances, convulsions, heatstroke, and psychotic symptoms that can sometimes continue for months or years after crystal meth has eased.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)  study suggests that crystal meth use in young adults is higher than previously reported. The study also connects the use of the drug to risky behaviors. It was found that 2.8 percent of young adults (ages 18-26) reported using crystal meth in the past year during 2001-2002. This is higher than the annual prevalence of crystal meth use by young adults (ages 19-28) of 1.4 percent reported by NIDA’s 2002 Monitoring the Future Survey.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), overdose deaths involving methamphetamine started rising steeply in 2009. In addition, provisional numbers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show overdose deaths involving stimulant drugs, including crystal meth, have increased 39% in the year ending in June 2020 compared to the year ending in June 2019. Moreover, previous research has found that methamphetamine use has increased significantly among people with an existing opioid use disorder.
What Type Of Drug Is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is a psychostimulant, or “upper.” This type of drug boosts the release of dopamine while also blocking inhibitors. As a result, the use of the drug leads to a surge of dopamine in the brain. During a person’s initial use of crystal meth, the drug creates a euphoric state paired with extreme alertness and energy. Unfortunately, these effects often lead to an intense craving to continue using meth, even after just one hit of the drug.
The most effective treatments for crystal meth addiction so far are behavioral therapies.
Facts About Crystal Meth Addiction
- Methamphetamine is usually a white, bitter-tasting pill or powder. Crystal meth looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks.
- Crystal meth is one form of the drug methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD.
- Individuals can take crystal meth by smoking in pipes, snorting, swallowing, or injecting the drug.
- Crystal meth increases the dopamine level in the brain, which is involved in motivation, movement, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors.
- Short-term health effects of crystal meth use include increased alertness and physical activity, lowered appetite, and high blood pressure and body temperature.
- Long-term health effects of crystal meth use include risk of addiction, risk of contracting hepatitis and HIV, severe dental problems such as meth mouth, intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching, violent behavior, and paranoia.
- Crystal meth can be highly addictive. Withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, anxiety, severe depression, psychosis, and intense drug cravings when individuals stop taking it.
- Researchers don’t yet know if people breathing in secondhand crystal meth smoke can get high or suffer other health effects.
- An individual can overdose on crystal meth. Because crystal meth overdose usually leads to heart attack, stroke, or organ problems, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions.
Effects Of Crystal Meth Addiction On The Brain
Crystal Meth is highly addictive. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), chronic and long-term use of crystal meth can alter brain functioning, leading to memory loss, altered moods, poor decision-making, and impulsivity. In addition, it can potentially damage the central nervous system. Crystal meth use disorder is a complex brain disease that affects a person’s well-being and affects their entire family. Treatment for crystal meth addiction is possible with active engagement, incentive-based approaches, and timely access to appropriate and structured treatment, including family-centered treatment.
Crystal meth often causes neuropsychiatric symptoms like psychosis, anxiety, and hallucinations. Crystal meth’s effects on brain cells can further lead to psychosis, with symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations that are very similar to those of schizophrenia. Although these symptoms may resolve over 1–6 months after quitting, some crystal meth users find that they persist in the long term, and relapse of psychotic symptoms can occur even after a long period of abstinence. The finding from Science Direct emphasizes crystal meth as a substance capable of causing the remaining cerebral damage not only within intoxication or during withdrawal. Because of those permanent severe brain damages, additional systematic examinations in crystal meth-dependent users are recommended.
Effects Of Crystal Meth Addiction On The Lungs
Meth addiction has a mixture of effects on the respiratory system and the lungs. The stimulant effects of meth lead to accelerated breathing, potentially causing fainting and lightheadedness. Smoking this drug can also result in coughing up blood due to bleeding in the alveoli, the portion of the lungs responsible for gas exchange with the blood supply.
Crystal meth use is more associated with pulmonary hypertension because of the destruction of small pulmonary blood vessels and pulmonary edema. Snorting this drug can lead to severe coughing and respiratory trauma, such as a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) and air release into the body outside of the lungs (pneumomediastinum). When meth is inhaled, its contaminants can be collected in the lungs, forming granulomas and leading to interstitial lung disease.
Effects Of Crystal Meth Addiction On The Heart
Meth’s stimulant effects can heavily raise the person’s heart rates, and over time, chronic and excessive use of this drug can result in heart palpitations. This alarming symptom is usually experienced as a powerful pounding feeling in the neck or chest. Crystal meth use can also lead to arrhythmia, also known as an irregular heartbeat.
These can feel like a “skipped” heartbeat, and if the arrhythmia becomes severe, it can lead to collapse, lightheadedness, or even cardiac arrest. In addition, overuse of meth can raise blood pressure, and over time, chronic high blood pressure can damage arteries, causing them to harden and block blood flow to various organs. Unfortunately, the symptoms can be silent as the damage transpires, and meth users may not be aware of the harm to their bodies until it’s too late.
Symptoms Of Meth Addiction
- Not caring about personal appearance or grooming
- Obsessively picking at hair or skin
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Dilated pupils and rapid eye movement
- Strange sleeping patterns, for instance, staying up for days or even weeks at a time
- Jerky, erratic movements such as twitching, facial tics, animated or exaggerated mannerisms, and constant talking
- Borrowing money often, selling possessions, or stealing
- Angry outbursts or mood swings
- Psychotic behavior, such as hallucinations and paranoia
- Severe oral health neglect
Symptoms Of Meth Overdose
- Fatigue and Sleepiness
- Meth Cravings
- Increased Appetite
- Dry mouth
- Muscle spasms
- Low energy level
- Not feeling motivated
Benefits Of Seeking Help
A methamphetamine drug addiction treatment center can help you get your life back from crystal meth. With a professionally trained addiction care team, you can achieve goals, such as:
- Stopping your crystal meth misuse
- Reconnecting with the people you care about
- Having more time to do the things you love
- Improving your physical and mental health
- Planning a new future without crystal meth
With the support of your clinic, you get the chance to create a new life for yourself. Some patients choose to return to their life before drugs, while others build a brand new life.
Treatments Available At A Methamphetamine Drug Addiction Rehab Center
Modern treatments for crystal meth addiction target its physical and emotional symptoms. When you visit a crystal meth drug addiction center, you will receive two types of services:
- Medical Services: The physical aspects of crystal meth addiction often need medical attention. Some patients receive medication to relieve their withdrawal symptoms and help them commit to treatment. A clinic doctor may also refer the patient to treatment for health issues related to the addiction.
- Behavioral Services: Addiction professionals use therapy and contingency management to support people with crystal meth addictions. Contingency management helps patients make a positive association with recovery. Meanwhile, therapy lets a patient learn recovery strategies and coping skills.
At We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing information about crystal meth addiction and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.
 NIDA – https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nida-study-suggests-crystal-methamphetamine-use-young-adults-higher-previously-reported
 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2021/03/law-enforcement-seizures-of-methamphetamine-marijuana-rose-during-pandemic
 SAMHSA – https://ncsacw.samhsa.gov/topics/methamphetamine.aspx
 Science Direct – https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S086743611600002X?token=BA6565524F94FF48586912316AE2E70C17509C6414C321A09AF71EBA1B74982200EA7A0DD57143744AF50E55007A6252&originRegion=us-east-1&originCreation=20210924121100