Meth Addiction – Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

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Struggling with Meth Addiction?

We’re Here to Help You Take the First Step Towards Recovery

Do you find yourself compulsively taking drugs, particularly meth? Do you feel like you can’t concentrate or do anything without taking meth? Drug addictions can be overwhelming for you and your loved ones. We understand, and we want you to know that you are not alone in this. In this article we will walk you through everything you need to know about meth, including:

  • Learning the effects of methamphetamines on your body and mind
  • Understanding the process behind its addictive potential
  • Recognising the damage meth does to relationships
  • Discovering ways to manage this condition
  • Learn new methods for handling triggers, new decision-making strategies and how to beat the effects of onsetting trauma

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What Are Methamphetamines?

Methamphetamine, popularly known as ‘ice’, ‘speed’, ‘crystal meth’ or ‘meth’, is a drug that has a stimulating effect on your central nervous system. This means it increases the activities in your brain and nerves leading to hyperactivity and a heightened sense of feelings and emotions. This state is commonly referred to as Euphoria.

History of Meth

The history of methamphetamines as documented by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) is said to originate in the 20th century when it was extracted from amphetamine, its parent drug, which was initially used to relieve nasal congestions and bronchial asthma.

According to Britannica, Methamphetamine found its use in the World War II among German soldiers. It was called Pervitin, and was used as a stimulant for the soldiers. Due to side effects that were experienced, the German soldiers began to discontinue its use by 1940.

Shortly after, between 1940 and 1950, Japanese industry workers began to use methamphetamine to increase their efficiency and productivity at work. The United States began to look at methamphetamines with suspicion and hostility by the 1960s, and was soon restricted in the country.

Owing to its restriction in the US, methamphetamine production was then carried out in secret places known as meth labs, underground facilities which are often DIY-ed and highly dangerous to work in. Meth labs, and methamphetamine use, became more and more popular in UK and Europe during the last half of the 19th century. Methamphetamines were mostly ingested by swallowing and later on in the 1980s smoking meth gained popularity. Eventually, injection of meth began to gain more traction due to its faster onset of action.

Methamphetamine use and possession is currently illegal in the United Kingdom, and defaulters are liable to jail time ranging from seven years to life imprisonment, plus a fine.

In 1971, methamphetamine was listed as a class B substance in the drug misuse act. However, in 2007 methamphetamine was moved up to be listed as a class A substance in the Misuse Of Drugs And Misuse Of Drugs (Safe Custody) (Amendment) Regulations.

Class A drugs have the most harmful effects on humans, and the penalties surrounding these classes of drugs are the strictest. Examples of drugs in this class are methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine.

Using meth is considered substance abuse, regardless of the reasons and conditions, and CATCH Recovery’s experienced therapists will help you heal with a set of substance-abuse-specific methods and techniques.

Other Variations of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine may come in different forms, and they include:

Ice or Crystal Meth: This is methamphetamine in its crystalline form. It is white or translucent and takes the appearance of a crystal. It is the most potent form of methamphetamine and dissolves readily in water. This form of methamphetamine is usually injected or smoked.

Speed or Meth Powder: This is methamphetamine in its powdered form. The powder has a white or cream colour. This form of methamphetamine has the lowest potency. It is usually inhaled, pressed into tablets and ingested, smoked or injected.

Base, Pure Paste or Wax: This is methamphetamine in its oily or damp form. It is usually yellow, brown or white in appearance. Base is much stronger and purer than speed. It can be ingested by swallowing or injected.

MDMA, Molly or Ecstasy: MDMA stands for methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It is derived from methamphetamine but differs in its effects and chemical makeup. It is commonly available in tablet form and may be taken orally, in powdered form, which may be inhaled, or in liquid form. It is less frequently smoked or injected.

Effects of Meth

Methamphetamine has several effects on you, and these effects are categorised based on the part of the body it affects. The brain is the organ that is most affected by methamphetamine.

Short Term Effects

You may experience these effects immediately after or shortly after taking methamphetamine. They include:

  • Increase in your body temperature, as your brain regulates your regular body temperature
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • You may lose awareness of where you are or who you are
  • Drowsiness

Long-Term Effects:

These are effects you may experience months to years after taking methamphetamine. They include:

  • Hallucinations i.e. you seeing, hearing or feeling things that aren’t there
  • Loss of memory
  • Aggression or violence
  • You may begin to feel paranoid i.e. a feeling of extreme and inappropriate distrust about people and situations
  • Inability to think clearly and make sound decisions

Effects on the Brain

As mentioned earlier, methamphetamine acts by stimulating your central nervous system. Your central nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord. Methamphetamine stimulates your nervous system by causing an extra release of dopamine, a chemical substance released in your brain. It is responsible for normal movement, emotions, feelings of accomplishment and rewarding behaviours. Constant use of methamphetamines and dopamine release will lead the brain to seek more constantly. This is why withdrawal symptoms occur when someone suffering from meth addiction does not take meth for some time.

The effects of methamphetamine on your brain are divided into short-term and long-term effects, and for your convenience, we have listed them below.

If you are a student, are starting a new job or need to learn a new life skill due to changes in your environment such as having a baby, marriage or moving out of your old home, then you may also experience difficulties in learning and understanding things.

Effects on the Body

Asides from the brain, methamphetamines also affect other parts of the body:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dental conditions like tooth decay
  • Constant itching, which may lead to wounds or sores on the skin
  • Abnormally fast breathing
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Abnormal or irregular heartbeats
  • Recurring convulsions or seizures
  • Stroke

Relationships while Under the Influence

Addiction doesn’t only affect you, it also takes its toll on your relationships and your loved ones.

A study by the American Society of Criminology showed that several people who were suffering from meth addiction and regularly took molly were sexually coercive and physically abusive to their partners. In the study, some men and women noted that molly increased their sexual libido, and makes them go on for hours non-stop. While this may be good for some relationships, for others, it may lead to sexual disharmony, especially when one person is unable to match up to the sexual needs of the other.

Other research data indicates that molly further lowered their sexual drive, which goes ahead to cause sexual disharmony in relationships.

Research on the effects of methamphetamine and libido within a British reality is unavailable, but similar results are observed in a Malaysian review of the effects of Methamphetamine in male users.

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Are You Addicted to Meth?

This is a pretty tricky question as it’s not always obvious that you are addicted to meth. It may first start off as something you take occasionally or just when you feel like it, then you’re suddenly taking it every day. If you are curious to know whether you’re addicted to meth, or you have a loved one who you think is addicted to meth, the following are symptoms to look out for.

Signs of Meth Addiction

According to The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), UK’s preferred diagnostics manual, for the diagnosis of stimulant intoxication, excluding caffeine, cocaine and synthetic cathinones, the following symptoms may appear:

  • anxiety
  • anger
  • impaired attention
  • hypervigilance
  • psychomotor agitation
  • paranoid ideation (possibly of delusional intensity)
  • transient auditory hallucinations
  • transitory confusion
  • changes in sociability.

Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal

Withdrawal is defined by the symptoms you may experience when you stop taking meth, or reduce the dose. These symptoms emanate from the brain, as your brain has developed a dependence on the dopamine releasing action of methamphetamines. But they can also be physical, produced by other organs’ adaptation to the effects of the drug. Some of these symptoms include:

  • dysphoric mood

  • irritability

  • fatigue

  • insomnia or (more commonly) hypersomnia

  • vivid and unpleasant dreams

  • increased appetite

  • psychomotor agitation or retardation

  • craving for amphetamine or related stimulants.

Risk of Overdose

Toxicity and overdose strike inconsistently among occasional, chronic and binge users. New users also may suffer from an OD as soon as the first intake of the drug. Unfortunately, meth is also often used for intentional overdosing.

Here are some of the major symptoms of methamphetamine overdose as defined in the British Medical Journal:

  • Tachycardia
  • Hyperthermia
  • volume depletion
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Rhabdomyolysis.

Knowing your risk of getting a meth overdose is key to preventing an overdose. The risk factors include:

  • Mixing meth with other substances including alcohol.
  • Increasing the amounts of the drug, e.g. to combat tolerance.
  • Pre-existing health conditions such as hypertension, genetic heart defects and neurological disorders.

Social and Economic Effects of Meth in the UK

The use of methamphetamine has become a growing concern in the United Kingdom. Due to the highly addictive nature of this drug, there are far-reaching social and economic consequences of its use.

Social Consequences of Meth Use

The social consequences of meth use in the UK are profound. Meth addiction can devastate your mental and physical health, further increasing the likelihood of depression, anxiety, paranoia, and aggression. The drug’s euphoric effects can also create a cycle of dependence, often leading to you having strained relationships, being violent to loved ones and causing cracks in families.

Communities affected by meth suffer from a range of problems. Meth-related crimes, such as theft and burglary, rise as a person suffering from meth addiction may resort to desperate measures to be able to buy more meth. These crimes create a sense of fear and insecurity and put an additional burden on law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional facilities.

Additionally, the use and production of meth can have severe consequences for neighbourhoods. The presence of meth labs poses significant environmental risks, as the meth production itself releases harmful chemicals which can contaminate water and soil. By this, the lives of the people in the community are endangered.

Economic Consequences of Meth Use

The economic implications of meth abuse in the UK are substantial. Firstly, hospitals run a cost to treat meth overdoses and addictions. Treating meth addiction requires a comprehensive approach, involving medical interventions, counselling, and support services. The cost of addiction treatment places a strain on healthcare budgets and resources, diverting funds from other areas of need.

Additionally, meth use may lead to reduced workforce productivity. Chronic addiction and associated health issues may make it difficult for individuals to maintain stable employment, contributing to higher rates of unemployment and dependence on social welfare programs. This, in turn, places a strain on the economy and society as a whole.

The illicit production and distribution of meth also have economic repercussions. The involvement of organised crime networks in the drug trade creates a black market economy that thrives on illegal activities. This undermines legitimate businesses, hampers economic growth, and fosters a climate of lawlessness and corruption.

Finding Treatment

Overcoming meth addiction is not something you can do all by yourself. Meth addiction can be treated in the hospital or outside the hospital on an outpatient basis. Here at CATCH Recovery London, we specialise in getting you the best outpatient care. The CATCH addiction recovery programme will connect you to psychologists or psychiatrists who are up to the task to give mental support and walk you through your recovery process.

CATCH Recovery’s Promise

CATCH promises to help you through this with love, care and kindness, as we work together to help you attain long-term recovery. Also, we will always be available for continued support during and after the treatment process. At CATCH we offer trauma therapy to help you process and beat trauma related to meth use. We also offer dialectical speech therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) which are evidence-based therapy techniques shown to improve mental health and prevent relapse.

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