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methamphetamine addiction
November 23, 2020

Warning Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse

Methamphetamines are a powerful and highly addictive central nervous system stimulant. Though some stimulants, such as Adderall, have beneficial medical applications, their potential for abuse is high. Recreational use of methamphetamines can quickly lead to psychological and physical dependence. Why is meth use risky, and how can you tell if someone you care about is misusing amphetamines?

What Makes Methamphetamines So Dangerous?

The severe health risks of using meth are widely known, but many people still experiment with the drug because they have heard it causes intense euphoria. Meth is more dangerous than other stimulants because a larger percentage of the drug remains unchanged in the body and stays present in the brain longer. The drug is toxic to nerve terminals in the brain, and meth can destroy the brain cell synapses that release dopamine, causing mood disturbances and dependence. 

Prolonged meth use changes users’ brain chemistry and reward center. As tolerance builds, it becomes increasingly difficult to experience pleasure without the drug. In addition to behavioral changes, chronic meth use can also cause irreversible damage to bodily systems and blood vessels, which can lead to a stroke.

Risks of Methamphetamine Use

Because meth’s effects can last up to 24 hours, people who binge-use the drug might stay awake for several days – a phenomenon nicknamed “tweaking.” During this phase, someone on methamphetamines can experience symptoms like extreme anxiety, a racing heart rate, chest pains, paranoia, irritability, hallucinations and muscle twitches.  

Meth use can also be fatal if someone takes too much. They could have seizures or a heart attack. If not treated immediately, an overdose can result in organ failure and possibly even death.

How to Determine If Someone Has a Meth Addiction

Methamphetamines profoundly affect both the body and the brain. As an addiction takes hold, a meth user might lose all interest in their favorite activities and long-held ambitions. The longer someone uses methamphetamines, the more grip the drugs will have on their lives. Eventually, they won’t feel normal without using meth, which is when the addiction has taken control.

Another telltale red flag that someone is using meth is the crash phase, which causes extreme fatigue. During this one- to three-day period, the body lacks the dopamine that meth was previously supplying. Characteristics of a meth crash include long periods of sleep, intense drug cravings and depression.

Even short-term meth use can quickly lead to an addiction. If you’re concerned someone you care about has a problematic relationship with methamphetamines, here are some other issues to look for.

  • Continuing to use meth despite mounting problems in their personal and professional life
  • Experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit using
  • Requiring higher doses to achieve the same desirable effects
  • Spending large amounts of time abusing meth
  • Developing physical or psychological problems due to meth use
  • Giving up hobbies in favor of obtaining or using meth

How to Support a Methamphetamine User

Despite the devastating effects of a methamphetamine addiction, lifelong recovery is possible with appropriate treatment. If someone you know is displaying any of the warning signs of methamphetamine abuse, it’s essential to encourage them to seek help. 

Long-term evidence-based addiction treatment facilities like Beach House are an ideal therapeutic environment for long-term drug users. At our quiet, secluded beachfront campus, residents benefit from beautiful surroundings and access to therapeutic amenities like massage. Our compassionate culture also treats recovering addicts with the love, respect and dignity they deserve.  For all these reasons and many more, Beach House earned a spot on Newsweek magazine’s 2020 list of the best addiction treatment centers in the U.S. To learn more about our philosophy and approach to healing, please reach out to our admissions team today.  

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