Crystal Meth Addiction Symptoms and Signs
Diagnosing an addiction to crystal meth isn’t an exact science. Doctors can’t ask you to blow into a tube to find your addiction, and they can’t diagnose it with a brain scan or a blood test.
Instead, a diagnosis of addiction might rely entirely on you and your honest answers to a series of questions. Only you can truly know where the line is between crystal meth abuse and crystal meth addiction. You might be able to pinpoint the exact date and time in which you crossed that line. Or, you might find that you crossed the line years ago, but the date passed without comment.
If you’re reading this article and you think you might have an addiction to crystal meth, chances are that you do have an addiction. Your body and your mind know when you’re addicted, and they might be providing subtle clues that you know, but just haven’t been willing to admit in the past. If this is the case for you, congratulations are in order. By finding out more about your addiction, and staying open to the possibility that you might have an addiction, you’ve already taken an important step on the road to recovery. If you’re not yet willing to admit that you might have an addiction to crystal meth, perhaps this article will help to persuade you.
How Many People Use Meth?
In an article in the CMAJ, the authors state that an estimated 25 million people worldwide have used amphetamine and methamphetamine within the previous 12 months. This means that more people in the world are experimenting with these drugs than are experimenting with cocaine or heroin. Some of these people may be able to simply experiment with crystal meth, using the drug on occasion without developing an addiction. Others can and do develop addictions after dabbling. Some report becoming hooked after the very first hit.
Defining an Addiction
In general, it’s never a good idea to use crystal meth. The drug is illegal, meaning that using the drug or possessing any tools that might allow you to use the drug could land you in jail. In addition, every time you use the drug, you’re flirting with the possibility of addiction, as the drug tends to cause persistent changes in the brain that can lead to compulsive drug use. Each time you use crystal meth, you may be one step closer to compulsive use of the drug.
People who use crystal meth may enjoy the drug, and they may even use it on a regular basis. But, they may also be able to stop using the drug on a moment’s notice. In fact, these people may be able to stop using the drug altogether for days or even months at a time, and while they’re abstinent in this manner, they may not think about using at all. By contrast, people who are addicted to crystal meth may:
- Think about using the drug all of the time
- Feel a deep longing to take the drug
- Find it hard to stop using the drug, even for a day
- Want to stop using, but feel unable to do so
People who are addicted to crystal methamphetamine may completely restructure their lives in order to buy and use the drug. A study in the journal Addiction reinforces this idea. The researchers were attempting to determine what separated people who were addicted to crystal methamphetamine from people who were only casual users. Researchers found that regular crystal meth addicts were, “no different from occasional users, except being more likely to have dropped out of school.” This seems to suggest that addicts were unable to handle the rigors of both addiction and school, and by dropping out, they could focus exclusively on their drug use. As your addiction grows, you may find it difficult to:
- Keep a job
- Participate in family events
- Maintain a home
- Develop friendships
Much of your spare time is devoted to your crystal meth addiction, and this can make leading a somewhat normal life difficult, if not impossible.
Questions From Others
Your friends and family members may have also noticed your crystal meth use and abuse, and they might have asked you questions such as:
- Couldn’t you stop just once?
- Why must you use the drug?
- Will you see an addiction counselor?
- Isn’t your use getting out of hand?
It’s likely that these questions are designed to help you, but they might make you incredibly mad. After all, you may consider your crystal meth use to be a very private and personal matter, and you may resent the idea that others feel compelled to comment upon it. Unfortunately, reacting like this to statements of concern is also considered a hallmark of addiction. If your first response to an expression of love is to defend your addiction, it’s time to talk to a doctor in a private treatment or rehab center.
People who abuse crystal meth for long periods of time at very high doses often develop medical issues that are severe and hard to ignore. These symptoms might include:
- Persistent skin sores
- Rotting, yellowed teeth
- Weight loss
You might also notice that you’re compelled to move in repetitive ways, scratching your skin or raising your hand up and down. These tics are caused by more than just nerves. They are caused by persistent brain damage as a result of meth abuse. These physical signs might compel your family members to take you to the doctor for an evaluation, and it will be hard to deny that addiction with the physical evidence plainly in sight.
Crystal meth addiction can also cause changes in the way you feel on a daily basis. For example, according to a study in AIDS Education and Prevention, 95 percent of people who used crystal meth reported feeling chronically depressed and anxious when they were not taking crystal meth. In other words, you might find that you’re unable to feel joy or pleasure in things that once truly did make you happy. Only the drug seems to be able to provide you with joy. These low feelings could lead you back to taking crystal meth, and they should be considered a gigantic red flag for addiction.
Spotting Meth Addiction in Someone Else
While you might never use crystal meth, you might live with someone who does, and chances are, that person might go to great lengths to hide the addiction from you. There are some signs that can indicate that the addiction is blossoming, however. Those signs include:
- Unusual sleep patterns. People using crystal meth may stay awake for days on end, and then sleep for days when the high is gone.
- Twitching and jerking. These strange movements may be apparent when the person is under the influence, but some people develop persistent tics that never seem to go away.
- Psychosis. While under the influence, the person might scream, yell, become violent or talk to people who aren’t there.
- Lying and deceit. The person might steal money, lie about his/her whereabouts or otherwise cover up the truth in order to hide the addiction.
You Can Do It
While it might be true that you can’t kick an addiction to methamphetamine alone, it is true that you can recover from your addiction. With counseling and perhaps medications, you can learn to control your addiction and you can slowly repair the physical and mental damage the addiction has caused. You might not even need to go into an intensive inpatient program to get the help you’ll need. In fact, according to an article published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, intensive outpatient programs that last for about three months are considered the ideal way to begin treating the problem. Once that program is complete, you may rely on less-frequent counseling and/or support groups to help maintain your sobriety.
So while crystal meth use can be dangerous, and addiction is incredibly likely with regular use, addictions to crystal meth can also be successfully treated. If you’re addicted, it’s time to access that help. Call us today.