Meth Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, Withdrawal, & Timeline

Meth Abuse: The Signs YOU Need To Know

Meth abuse is a very dangerous form of drug abuse. Methamphetamine is potent, toxic, and very addictive. Learn the facts about meth abuse in our blog!

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

February 22, 2023

Regardless of their kind, all narcotic substances are addictive and can cause our bodies to be physically dependent on them. Drug addiction and substance abuse are increasing, and the world is struggling with the growing number of people with this health condition.

Addiction is a complex and debilitating disorder not restricted to any location, age, gender, etc. It can happen to anyone. It is a testament to the scientific research and studies done on this subject that now it is considered one of the significant health concerns in the country, and various government policies are implemented for its treatment. This is a better position than when drug abuse and addiction were seen as a moral folly than a health disorder.

This is good because drug abuse and addiction are degenerative diseases that only worsen with time. Drug abuse can have severe short and long-term health effects if not treated effectively and immediately. Even though there are various types and forms of addictive substances, they all have one thing in common, their addictive nature.

One of the worst drugs to abuse is methamphetamine, a very powerful and highly addictive stimulant.

By the Numbers

In the United States of America, the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics reported that around 0.7% or 1.8 million people above the age of 12, have used meth. It was also noted that more males are indulging in this club drug as the reports stated that as opposed to 0.4% of females using meth, 0.8% of males abusing this drug. Worldwide, it is said that almost 26 million people are meth addicts.

An Overview of Meth: What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine goes by many street names:

  • Meth

  • Crank

  • Ice

  • Speed

  • Tina

  • Crystal meth

  • Crystal

  • Beanies

  • Redneck cocaine

  • Chalk

  • Tock

Meth is a potent CNS stimulant also prescribed under the brand name Desoxyn to treat patients who have ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), obesity, and other disorders.

Meth is also used as a recreational drug. Most meth consumed in the United States is made in clandestine labs, often using a toxic mix of chemicals to manufacture it.

With the increasing amount of meth abuse, methamphetamine abuse is becoming a worldwide epidemic. Everyone must be aware of the dangers of meth abuse and addiction. This blog will discuss what happens when you abuse meth, its meaning, side effects, symptoms, and recovery treatment programs available in the country.

What Is Meth Abuse?

Methamphetamine or meth is both a recreational and prescription drug. Mostly, it is used for the recreational purpose of getting high only. Meth can be available in various forms, most commonly as crystal meth.

Crystal methamphetamine looks like shards of glass fragments and blue-looking rocks. It can be ingested in different ways, including snorting, swallowing, smoking, or injecting directly into the body. There are severe long-term effects of meth abuse, including both physical and mental health problems.

Meth was first discovered in 1893, but it was in 1919 in Japan when methamphetamine originated from amphetamine. Finally, in the 1930s, the drug officially entered the United States market as a bronchial inhaler and was later used for obesity treatment.

Currently, meth comes under schedule II classification in the US and is a controlled substance. Methamphetamine users have mentioned that their experience after using the drugs gives them a false sense of happiness and confidence. It is a stimulant that produces psychoactive effects, which is why the user quickly develops a desire for it. Many users claim that they got hooked on the drug after they tried it for the first time.

Although meth originated from a similar stimulant drug, amphetamines, they are quite different. Meth is much more potent than its originator because the amount that reaches the brain is higher in concentration. Similarly, it is more damaging to the central nervous system as the drug's effect lasts longer.

So, if meth has so much potential to become addictive, why was it ever given as a prescription drug? Prescription methamphetamine, Deoxyn, is prescribed in a far lesser dose when compared to the street version of it. Street methamphetamine is mainly made using cheap over-the-counter materials in temporary laboratory settings. The readily available materials are some hazardous materials and chemicals due to which many meth manufacturers die or burn during the process. 

As mentioned before, meth is produced in two main forms:

  • White Powder: Powdery form that is mainly snorted or smoked

  • Crystal: Also known as crystal meth, the rock formation is the purest form of meth

Often, meth abuse takes place in a binge manner where the user ends up using the drug for days without sleeping or eating properly. When we talk about teen meth abuse, we talk about these kinds of rave parties. Ultimately, they crash out, feeling the euphoria and ecstasy felt while using the meth. This mania is due to the overload of dopamine released in your brain. In the long run, the user cannot get the same feeling of pleasure as the body will steadily become tolerant of it. 

Meth Abuse Is Dangerous & Potentially Lethal...But It's Treatable. Learn More!
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Why Is Meth So Addictive?

Meth causes the body to release massive amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that helps cells in our bodies communicate. Normally, our nervous system only releases small amounts of dopamine, which is used by our body as a reward chemical.

When a person uses meth, this small amount of dopamine turns into a firehose. This causes a person to feel an intense amount of pleasure and euphoria. Unfortunately, like other addictive drugs, meth loses its effectiveness over time. This causes a person to continue to use meth in higher amounts, chasing that initial dopamine rush. Over time, this turns into addiction.

What Are the Signs of Meth Abuse?

There are innumerable reasons why people start abusing drugs. From dissatisfaction in personal life, work pressure, and trauma to abuse and genetic effects, all these are some of the most common causes of addiction. People think that by using drugs such as Methamphetamine, they would be able to solve all these problems. But in reality, they are making everything worse.

Meth abuse can give a short moment of careless euphoria, happiness, and confidence. Still, the short-term and long-term health hazards associated with it far outweigh the issues you are currently facing. Meth addiction increases the amount of natural dopamine released in the brain, due to which reinforcement and rewarding behavior develop. This is why the user continues taking meth even when they want to stop. 

Some Common Signs of Meth Abuse

  • Physical Signs: The short-term physical signs of meth abuse include lower appetite, increased physical activity, irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, and more. A few long-term physical signs of meth abuse are itchy skin, tooth decay, extreme weight loss, etc.

  • Behavioral Signs: Various behavioral signs of meth abuse can be noticed by any outsider. These signs are trouble sleeping, sudden mood swings, aggression, confusion, increased irritability, lack of hygiene, general disinterest, burn marks from spoons and syringes, etc. 

Meth can push an individual's physical activity, due to which they can feel exhausted and tired. It is highly addictive and can also lead to people overdosing on it, which can be fatal. 

Some Common Symptoms of Meth Abuse

Methamphetamine is highly dangerous because it has a strong genetic effect. Several researchers have mentioned that there are greater chances of developing meth abuse and addiction if their parents or relatives have the same substance abuse problem. It has also been noted that the continuous usage of meth can create a shortage of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the pleasure we experience while partaking in enjoyable activities.

Other symptoms of meth abuse are:

  • Behavioral Symptoms: This includes violence, stealing money, physical altercations, increased sexual behavior, unsafe and unsanitary activities, low productivity, and thinking only about getting high. 

  • Physical Symptoms: Here, a person might experience weight loss, increased heart rate, increased libido, malnutrition, weakened immune system, dental decay, unable to heal wounds, acne, and more. 

  • Psychological Symptoms: Some symptoms are violent streak, memory loss, confused state of mind, paranoia, psychosis, hallucination, disorientation, disassociation, and more. 

  • Mood-Related Symptoms: This includes anxiety, panic, aggression, euphoria, anxiety, restlessness, inability to concentrate, unable to stay still, depression, mood swings, delusional behavior, etc.

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What Are Some Meth Abuse Side Effects?

There are various side effects of using meth. The effects vary on the way the user consumes it. Also, the intensity of addiction and abuse is a vital determining factor in terms of the side effects the person will experience in a short or long while. There is a high chance of someone getting infected with diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C if they inject meth into their boy.

Another side effect of meth abuse is an erratic and risky mood that can lead to a person engaging in fights and unprotected sexual intercourse. Hence, there is an increased chance of a person contracting HIV/AIDS. Studies have also noted that meth usage can lead to cognitive problems, and the person might have trouble learning, remembering, and comprehending things.

The continued usage of this drug can cause several psychological changes, such as impaired verbal learning and lack of motor coordination. Several memory-related problems are associated with it, and many develop emotional issues.

In fact, meth addiction is also connected with nerve damage, due to which many people develop a risk of getting Parkinson's Disease. 

Side effects of abusing methamphetamine:

  • Depression

  • Lung damage

  • Live damage

  • Brain damage

  • Strokes

  • Heart Attack

  • Cirrhosis

  • Hepatitis and AIDS/HIV

  • Seizures

  • Kidney problems

If a person tries to stop their abuse and quit meth, they may experience some withdrawal effects. These withdrawal symptoms include suicidal thoughts, crippling depression, inability to feel satisfied, increased sleep and appetite, paranoia, anxiety, restlessness, intense craving, etc. 

Finally, there is a risk of fatally overdosing on meth. Drug overdoses have become a leading cause of death in the US.

Meth Withdrawal: A Timeline

We’ll say upfront that meth withdrawal isn’t easy. However, when done with the assistance of a drug rehab or drug detox center, the process is much easier, safer, and more likely to be successful. Also, the timeline of meth withdrawal symptoms depends on multiple factors, including a person’s individual physiology, history of drug use, and more.

Meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense cravings

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Dehydration

  • Sleep issues

  • Exhaustion

  • Increased appetitite

  • Sweating

  • Paranoia

  • Hallucinations

  • Suicidal thoughts and depression

That said, there are some common phases many people go through when withdrawing from meth. The worst withdrawal symptoms are experienced in the first 48 hours after a person last used the drug. Unfortunately, some symptoms of withdrawal can persist for months, and in some cases, years after meth leaves a person’s system. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) are an emerging area of study. Again, a drug rehab or drug detox center can make PAWS easier to live with.

Here's a basic timeline of meth withdrawal:

Phase 1: The Crash

As we said, the first couple of days after meth use stops is the most intense period of meth withdrawal. Most people call this difficult part of meth withdrawal “the crash.” A person detoxing from meth at this time will face unpleasant symptoms including body aches and cramps, sweating, and nausea. Also, a person will experience mental fog, cognitive difficulties, and very low energy levels, which is why this phase is called “the crash.”

Finally, this phase is why detoxing with professional help is so important. These symptoms can easily discourage a person from continuing, making them return to meth abuse for relief. Also, the close medical monitoring of a drug detox center or drug rehab makes this early stage of meth withdrawal far safer and easier.

Phase 2: The Peak

Three to 10 days after meth use stops is when withdrawal symptoms tend to be at their worst. That’s because a person’s body is trying to stabilize itself. A person will experience mental symptoms of withdrawal during this phase: intense anxiety, depression, and exhaustion. Also, body aches and tremors are common during this phase.

Drug cravings can be intense during the peak – it’s another reason why detoxing with professional help is always the best choice.

Phase 3: Three and Four Weeks In

The intensity of physical meth withdrawal symptoms usually declines by now. Unfortunately, many of the mental symptoms of meth withdrawal often persist, especially drug cravings and mood disorders such as depression. Plus, a person is still going to feel fairly tired. These lingering symptoms can be helped with professional drug detox help.

Phase 4: A Month or More

By now, most of the physical symptoms of meth withdrawal are over. However, a person’s body is still trying to regulate itself after meth use stops, so a person will still experience mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. These disorders can be prolonged, especially if a person was engaged in meth abuse for a long time.

There is a bright side to phase four of meth withdrawal, however – this is the point where recovery really begins. At this stage, a person can begin to truly heal themselves, and build a bright and happy life for themselves without meth abuse.

Timeline for Meth Withdrawal
What Causes Meth Withdrawal?
Can Meth Withdrawal Be Easier?
First Phase of Meth Withdrawal
Phase Two of Meth Withdrawal
Phase Three of Meth Withdrawal
Phase 4 of Meth Withdrawal
Get Treated for Meth Addiction Today
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Recovery & Meth Abuse Treatment

It is crucial for anyone suffering and going through the painful aftereffects of meth abuse and addiction to seek medical help. Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that requires medical supervision. It cannot be treated at home without the help of physicians and addiction experts.

So, if you or your loved ones are going through this tough time, immediately consult a good drug rehab center nearby. The best possible treatment for methamphetamine abuse would be residential treatment. The patient's stay is included in the treatment program in this setting. This means that a person must stay at the facility for the duration of their treatment. The patient will first be detoxified of all the addictive substances in their body. This process is known as drug detox.

After this, an individualized plan at an inpatient drug rehab or an outpatient drug rehab would be created to tackle all the patient's health issues. For instance, if a patient is also struggling from underlying physical and mental trauma, that would be treated. Afterward, various therapies will help a person strengthen their recovery journey. 

Evidence-Based Treatment for Meth Abuse at The Edge Treatment Center

The best way to move forward from meth abuse is to seek help from a good drug rehab center. The Edge Treatment Center offers comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for meth abuse. Our first step is matching you with an effective, trustworthy drug detox center. We maintain valued relationships with many of the nation's leading drug detox centers, and we'll ensure your first steps away from meth abuse are the strongest possible.

When you enter treatment at our long-term outpatient drug rehab, you'll join a compassionate community dedicated to creating new, happier lives free from substance abuse. With The Edge, you'll have every resource you need to build a life free from meth abuse.

Don't risk an overdose or worse. Contact The Edge Treatment Center to learn more about our effective meth abuse treatment program and more!

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.