Crystal Meth Side Effects & Signs of Use

It doesn’t take long for someone to go from casual, recreational use to dependence. Crystal meth side effects can cause severe, permanent damage to the body and mind.

More About Crystal Meth

What Are the Signs That Someone is Using Crystal Meth?

The signs that someone is using crystal meth are very prominent and manifest earlier on the timeline of use than other substances.

Early signs of crystal meth use are easy to spot if you know what to look for, and addiction can occur with a single use. Crystal is usually smoked or snorted, leading to an almost immediate, euphoric high. Also look for:

  • High energy, almost to the point of being hyperactive
  • Increased body temperature, flush skin tone, and profuse sweating
  • Dilated pupils and a bright-eyed appearance
  • Irritable behavior
  • Bouts of paranoia or unwarranted suspicion

These symptoms can escalate and become more pronounced with continued use, leading very quickly to dependence and/or addiction. It’s not uncommon for a meth abuser to stay awake for days and keep odd hours. This kind of binge, known as tweaking, is usually followed by a crash that can last for a day or two as the mind and body lose their ability to handle further stimulation.

How to Tell When Use Has Become an Addiction

Occasional recreational users are able to smoke crystal meth and remain functional for a long time after beginning use. However, the statistics on crystal meth ingestion and death rates bolster the drug’s reputation as a dangerous substance that’s addictive very early in the abuse cycle.

Addiction occurs when the craving for meth outweighs all other considerations. Addicts have lost everything, and it still hasn’t stopped them from using. Those who attempt to quit without help rarely stay clean for long. This is an all too familiar part of the cycle of crystal meth use, cessation, and relapse.

Addiction sets in quickly and takes hold due to the potency of the drug, rapid absorption into the system, and ability to affect abrupt, radical changes in brain function. The signs that someone is addicted to crystal meth include:

  • Increased psychosis
  • Violent and irrational behavior
  • Feelings of panic if meth is inaccessible
  • Changes in appearance, character, and peer groups
  • Secretive and/or criminal behavior

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If you’re ready to take the first step toward finding recovery, contact Stepping Stone Center for Recovery today. Our addiction specialist can answer any questions regarding our program and the treatment options that are available to you.

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Meth Addiction and Crime

There’s an old saying in the streets that someone would sell their grandmother for a piece of glass. In 2017, the Department of Justice issued their annual National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA). The found that:

  • More than 690,000 people over the age of 12 are currently using crystal meth
  • Between 80 and 90 percent of stimulant-related deaths involved some form of methamphetamine
  • In the 10-year period between 2005 and 2015, death due to stimulant overdose rose by 225 percent.

It’s also responsible for a higher rate of property crimes in areas where addiction rates are high, accounting for one in five burglaries in Portland, Oregon, alone, according to local crime numbers. Approximately 40 percent of car thieves in that city are also charged with a meth-related crime on an arrest. These types of criminal behavior can be traced to crystal meth addiction.

Common Crystal Meth Effects

In addition to personality traits that accompany addiction, physical characteristics point to habitual crystal meth use. The mouth seems dry all the time. Bad breath, body odor, and a general unkempt look appear. There are also skin eruptions and ulcerations, especially on the face, arms, and around injection sites. Nausea and vomiting are common, and the appetite nearly disappears. Violent actions and seizures occur, and overdose due to increased tolerance is common.

Are There Long-Term Crystal Meth Side Effects?

As bad as the normal crystal meth effects are, long-term damage from abuse can be life-threatening. A report conducted by the International Organizations Research Group (IORS) determined that crystal meth addicts are at increased risk from cognitive impairment, infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis types B and C, and suicidal behaviors. This risk is elevated in gay men, who make up a high proportion of non-rural users, and those who engage in polysubstance abuse.

Health problems like weakened veins, circulation problems, and inflammation of the heart lining increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. Another symptom, one which is permanent without extensive oral health care, is the appearance of meth mouth

What is Meth Mouth?

Meth use causes physical changes, the most notable of which are extreme weight loss, skin ulcerations, and a condition known as meth mouth. Meth mouth is such a classic sign of crystal meth abuse, even those who aren’t familiar with the underground world of drug use can spot it. The cause is thought to be a combination of poor hygiene, nutritional deficiencies, and the tendency that habitual users have of grinding their teeth. The symptoms of meth mouth include bleeding gums, rotted teeth, dry mouth, bad breath, and tooth loss.

How Long Does Crystal Meth Stay in Your System?

How fast math acts and how long meth stays in the system vary by the method of delivery and the strength of the batch. The first effects can wear off within six hours, but they can sometimes be felt for up to 24 hours. Cravings set in almost immediately after the effects wear off, and the first rush is fleeting.

The half-life of crystal meth, which is the length of time it takes for 50 percent of the drug to leave the system, is about 10 hours on average. It stays in the system longer if taken intravenously than when smoked or snorted, and the longer it’s used, the longer it takes to dissipate. Age and individual metabolism also play a part.

Crystal meth can be detected in the saliva for up to 10 minutes after smoking, with a window of up to two days with heavy use. If a urinalysis is performed, it can be detected from 3 – 5 days after last use. It remains in the bloodstream for up to 24 hours after the last dose if no more is used.

Is Treatment for Meth Addiction Effective?

There is always hope for recovery, although health problems associated with crystal meth addiction may be permanent. Crystal meth is one of the hardest drugs to kick, and doing so without help is almost impossible. With intensive, long-term treatment and follow-up care, the relapse rates are improved dramatically.