Meth Addiction Causes & Effects

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Understanding Meth Addiction

Learn about meth and substance abuse

Methamphetamine is an extremely potent and highly dangerous drug. Commonly referred to as meth, this drug causes those who abuse it to experience intense feelings of euphoria by stimulating the central nervous system and triggering the release of dopamine. For many, ingesting this substance just one time can put them on the path to addiction, which can then lead to a variety of life-threatening consequences if treatment is not sought.

Meth can be smoked or injected intravenously. Over time, regardless of the person’s route of administration, an individual’s body can become dependent on the presence of this substance, which makes abstaining from using it nearly impossible to do without professional help. The risk of overdose is extremely high for those addicted to meth, and the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that emerge when a person is unable to use this drug can drive her back into the vicious cycle of meth abuse. Fortunately, there is treatment available for meth abuse for those who seek it, and it is possible to end one’s addiction to meth once and for all.

Statistics

Meth addiction statistics

It is estimated that almost half of a percent of all people over the age of 12 have abused an amphetamine like meth at least once in the past year. Additionally, and according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), it has been found that women are three to four times more likely to use meth intravenously than men are. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NS-DUH) has also reported that over a million people in the United States have abused this substance in the most recent calendar year.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for meth addiction

There are many reasons that explain why and how a person comes to abuse methamphetamine. However, based on research done by experts, the following causes and risk factors are cited as being strong determinants for gauging someone’s risk for abusing meth:

Environmental: A great deal of research supports the notion that a person’s environment can greatly impact whether or not an individual will come to abuse methamphetamine. For example, residing in an environment in which drug use is common and meth is easily accessible can most certainly increase the likelihood that a person will come to abuse this substance. Furthermore, if a person is exposed to meth prenatally, community violence, and trauma at an earlier age, the risk for meth abuse also rises.

Risk Factors:

  • Having access to methamphetamine
  • Suffering from mental health concerns
  • Prenatal exposure to methamphetamine
  • Personal history of exposure to trauma
  • Having a novelty-seeking or impulsive personality
  • Exposure to violence in one’s primary environment
  • Having a history of an unstable home
  • Prior history of substance abuse, addiction, or chemical dependency
  • Family history of substance abuse, addiction, or chemical dependency

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of meth addiction

Depending on the severity of a person’s meth addiction, the apparent indicators that an individual is struggling with this type of substance abuse problem can vary from one person to the next. The following signs and symptoms, however, are those that could be apparent to loved ones that an individual is struggling with a meth abuse problem:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Spending a great deal of time getting, using, and recovery from methamphetamine
  • Failing to adhere to obligations and responsibilities due to meth use
  • Ongoing meth abuse despite awareness that meth abuse has caused problems in one’s life
  • No longer participating in activities in order to use meth
  • Consuming meth in situations that are considered hazardous
  • Abusing more meth that originally intended
  • Previous failed attempts to cut back on meth use

Physical symptoms:

  • Rapid or slowed heartrate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fluctuations in blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Weight loss
  • Jitteriness
  • Restlessness
  • Slowed movements
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Tolerance for increased amounts of meth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Intense cravings for more meth
  • Confusion
  • Inept decision-making
  • Poor concentration

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Dulled emotional range
  • Social withdrawal
  • Continuing to abuse meth despite experiencing interpersonal conflict as a result of abusing meth
  • Declined interest in activities that were once enjoyed

Effects

Effects of meth addiction

Abusing meth does not come without its consequences. Both in the short- and long-term, those who abuse this substance are at risk of a whole host of adverse effects if treatment is not sought. The below listed effects are those that are known to occur if a person remains addicted to methamphetamine:

  • Mouth sores, known as “meth mouth”
  • Heart attack
  • Puncture marks or tracks lines
  • Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Polysubstance use, addiction, or chemical dependency
  • Contracting HIV or other sexually-transmitted infections or viruses from sharing needles or engaging in risky sex while under the influence
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Nasal irritation or bleeding
  • Respiratory problems
  • Gum disease
  • Engaging in illegal or dangerous activities, which could result in arrest or incarceration
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Overdose
  • Death as a result of overdose or suicide
  • Demise of meaningful relationships
  • Job loss or chronic unemployment
  • Financial difficulties
  • Tooth decay

Co-Occurring Disorders

Meth addiction and co-occurring disorders

It is quite common for those addicted to meth to also struggle with the symptoms of other mental health conditions or chemical dependency concerns. Whether a mental illness or substance use disorder was present before or after the abuse of meth began, any co-occurring mental disorder will also require treatment in the event a person seeks care to end her addiction to meth. The following mental disorders are but a few examples of those that individuals with a meth addiction can suffer from at the same time:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Gambling disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal & overdose

Effects of meth withdrawal: As a person abuses methamphetamine, her body becomes physically dependent on the substance. It is because of this physiological dependence on meth that an individual’s body experiences withdrawal when the drug is being cleared from a person’s system. Withdrawal from meth can manifest with various symptoms. However, the following are among the most common symptoms that those withdrawing from meth experience:

  • Slowed thought processes
  • Agitation
  • Increased appetite
  • Slowed movement
  • Vivid unpleasant dreams
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Oversleeping
  • Having trouble sleeping

Effects of meth overdose: Because a person can develop a tolerance to meth, an individual will likely require more of this substance in order to achieve the desired high. When this occurs, the risk of overdose increases exponentially. A drug overdose is something that should be treated as a medical emergency, and the following symptoms are telltale warning signs that a person is in need of medical attention:

  •  Chest pain
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack
  • Heart attack
  • Agitation
  • Organ damage
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stomach pain
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Once I noticed that my meth addiction was starting to take a physical toll on my body, I had enough. Thanks to The Rose, I am now 2 years free from my meth addiction.

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