Understanding the signs, symptoms, and possible effects of methamphetamine addiction can be an important first step on the path toward successful long-term recovery. Sierra by the Sea in Newport Beach, California, is proud to be a source of accurate and relevant information about the impact of meth addiction.
Learn about meth addiction
Methamphetamine, or meth, addiction is a type of substance use disorder that involves consistent consumption of increasing amounts of meth. Meth is a drug in the class of stimulants, which are substances that cause a sharp increase in energy levels and elevated mood.
Using meth causes an individual to experience signs and symptoms that have an impact on the body and the mind. Several mental and physical effects that are related to the use of this stimulant include meth craving, tolerance, and withdrawal. Cravings for meth occur when an individual has a strong urge or desire to consume the substance. The desire and search for this substance often impairs an individual’s ability to complete typical daily tasks and responsibilities.
Tolerance to meth develops as a result of an individual regularly consuming the substance in increasing quantities. At that point, the body develops a dependence on the substance. When an individual no longer consumes large quantities of meth or entirely stops using meth, the body responds by entering a state of withdrawal.
It is important to note that meth is one of the most addictive substances, with some cases of meth addiction developing less than one week after initial use. For these reasons, it is vital to seek appropriate care quickly if you believe that you or a loved one may have developed a meth addiction.
Statistics about meth use and addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have published the following statistics about meth addiction in the United States:
- According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4% of the population (14.7 million people) has tried meth at least once.
- An estimated 964,000 people age 12 and older had a methamphetamine use disorder in 2017 after just 684,000 reported an addiction in 2016.
- The annual rate of overdose deaths involving meth increased by more than 150% between 2010 and 2014.
- More than 100,000 people received medical treatment in an emergency department for meth use in 2011.
Potential causes of meth addiction
Some individuals experience an increased risk for developing a meth addiction than others. Substance use disorders, including an addiction to methamphetamines, have a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. These include:
- Personality traits such as impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors
- Presence of other mental health conditions such as antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, and other substance use disorders
- Being raised in or exposed to environments with consistent meth use
- Childhood history of conduct disorder
- Exposure to violent environments
Symptoms of meth addiction
The signs and symptoms of someone with a meth addiction may vary but, generally speaking, an individual may display the following:
- Borrowing or stealing money
- Shrouding one’s whereabouts in secrecy
- Poor performance in school or at work
- Failing to maintain personal commitments
- Major weight loss
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Significant damage to teeth and gums
- Increased pulse
- Poor personal hygiene
- Impaired judgment
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Memory issues
The negative impact of meth addiction
No matter how minor an addiction may seem, if left untreated it has the potential to negatively impact the life of you or your loved one. Impaired mental processes, physical symptoms, and behavioral changes resulting from meth addiction can all lead to seriously damaging effects, such as:
- Arrest and incarceration
- Development or worsening of certain medical conditions
- Poor attendance or performance at work or in school
- Chronic unemployment
- Inability to form new relationships or maintain current relationships
- Struggles to communicate verbally
- Risk of eviction and/or homelessness
- Financial ruin
- Increased risk of violence
While meth addiction is a serious condition that can cause someone to experience many difficulties, these outcomes are not guaranteed. Those individuals who receive the proper type and level of care have an increased chance of living a full life and healing from their addiction to methamphetamines.
Common co-occurring disorder among people who are addicted to meth
Many people who are addicted to meth also experience other mental health conditions, including other substance use disorders. Meth is a highly addictive substance that has the potential to cause other mental health conditions to worsen due to its serious impact on the brain and body. Some common co-occurring disorders include:
- Other substance use disorders
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Gambling disorder
Withdrawing from meth and the risk of overdose
Effects of withdrawal: An individual who is experiencing withdrawal from meth may experience some of the following physical and mental symptoms:
- Seeing, hearing, or feelings sensations that are not real
- Tremors to hand or other body parts
- Inability to sleep
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea, stomach pain
Effects of overdose: An individual who has consumed dangerous quantities of meth is at risk for an overdose. Overdoses are extremely dangerous and may lead to death if an individual does not receive emergency medical care. Any individuals demonstrating the signs or symptoms of a meth overdose requires immediate medical attention. Common symptoms of an overdose include:
- Slowed breathing, which may cause someone to stop breathing
- Decreased heart rate
- Very low levels of oxygen in the blood
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Drop in blood pressure
- Entering a coma