What Is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is a type of methamphetamine. Methamphetamines are drugs that impact the functioning of someone’s central nervous system. They are highly active and their use is associated with feeling a happy sense of euphoria. Of course, there are numerous dangers connected with the use of these drugs, and while they can have medicinal purposes, the use of methamphetamines is a common form of drug abuse.
There are many types of methamphetamines, but among the most commonly abused is crystal meth. Crystal meth can be commonly made by dealers. The active ingredient in these drugs is pseudoephedrine, which is found in many types of cough or cold medicines — indeed, the fact that this drug is so commonly used in many types of drugs explains why these drugs are often locked away at grocery and drug stores.
Crystal Meth is a white powder that can be smoked, injected, snorted, or swallowed. Its euphoric impact is felt within minutes, thus making the drug very popular at parties and in social settings. It goes by many nicknames, including ice, glass, and hillbilly heroin. Because it is so easy to make, it can be purchased relatively easily, even though it is illegal.
The brain chemicals released when a user ingests crystal meth include dopamine, thus activating the pleasure centers of a person’s brain. Of course, this is not healthy. A user can become addicted to the substance, causing them to turn to it again and again to relive that pleasurable feeling. Unfortunately, a user can quickly build a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance and addiction often go hand in hand, as someone building a tolerance to a drug means that they have to take higher amounts of the drug to receive the same effect. This further strengthens the addiction and often increases the danger associated with the use of the drug.
How Often Is Crystal Meth Abused?
The statistics indicate that crystal meth abuse is on the rise. This is occurring for many reasons, including a rise in the purity of the drug — thus making it more popular — and an increase in production and smuggling from Mexico, where drug cartels have been working hard at increasing their drug production and getting it across the border. In 2018, more than a dozen states had reported their highest ever levels of crystal meth abuse, with these states generally being concentrated in the West and South U.S. Rural areas are largely considered more prone to drug epidemics, and crystal meth use appears to be no exception, with the drug being more likely to hit rural regions. This is not dissimilar to other drug epidemics, like the opioid epidemic, which has devastated many rural communities.
Like other drugs, crystal meth is more likely to be abused by certain segments of the population than others. One study in 2017 found that 1.6 million people had used the drug within the past year, with another 774,000 having used it within the past month. Unfortunately, in that time, the numbers have likely only increased. The same studies found that crystal meth was more popular in the western United States, and past studies have suggested that the drug is more popular among young adults than other studies had previously captured. This makes sense, as some reports have noted crystal meth’s increasing popularity as a party drug.
Is Crystal Meth Dangerous?
Sadly, yes. As noted above, the use of and addiction to crystal meth are on the rise, but so are deaths from its use: A January 2021 study found that crystal meth deaths had dramatically increased over eight years, with deaths from the drug being sharpest among American Indians and Alaska Natives. From 2011 to 2018, deaths among this group nearly quintupled. At the same time, deaths among whites quadrupled, and deaths increased across all ethnic groups.
Although it is the most significant possible consequence, death is not the only hazard that crystal meth users may face: One study found that crystal meth use leads to higher rates of physical problems, including stroke, sexually transmitted diseases, and hepatitis C infection. Crystal meth abuse is also associated with mental illness, psychosis, increased risks of incarceration, and financial difficulties.
Crystal meth is dangerous because of the slew of negative impacts it can have on your body. These include:
- Sudden spikes in body temperature that can be strong enough to kill someone.
- A variety of psychological symptoms, including anxiety spikes, violence, and other mood swings.
- Huge dental problems, including losing your teeth.
- Sharp spikes in paranoia that can result in violence.
- A loss of inhibitions that can lead to dangerous behavior, including risky sexual behavior that can result in acquiring STDs like AIDS.
How Can You Recognize a Crystal Meth Addiction?
Someone high on crystal meth may exhibit many of the following symptoms, including:
- Physical signs, such as quick movements, pupil dilation, sweating, high body temperature, manic appearance and energy levels, rapid speech, and constant scratching of their skin.
- Behavioral signs, such as mania, anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations.
Furthermore, when someone crashes from their crystal meth high, they may appear depressed, withdrawn, exhausted, or irritable.
Unfortunately, if you are familiar with drugs and drug-related behavior, some of these physical or behavioral signs may appear similar to others. From a purely physical perspective, the scratching and speed of behavior are two of the things that help to differentiate someone high on crystal meth from being high on other drugs.
A person who is addicted to crystal meth is likely to exhibit all of the above symptoms. You may also notice a variety of longer-term physical behavioral changes, including:
- A change in social groups, as they shift friends to hang out with individuals who share their addiction to crystal meth.
- Damage to their teeth and gums. Indeed, one of the most visible changes that someone who is addicted to crystal meth goes through is the rotting and breaking of their teeth.
- A decrease in someone’s ability to perform in work or at school as their addiction to crystal meth becomes more and more encompassing.
- Odd sleep patterns.
- Psychotic behavior and an increase in hallucinations, even when a person is not using crystal meth.
What Treatment Options Are There for Crystal Meth Addiction?
As you are now likely well aware, crystal meth is an extremely dangerous and addictive drug. However, there is good news: A person who becomes addicted to the drug can be cured with an appropriate treatment program. Treatment options for crystal meth include:
As with most addictions, therapy can be extremely useful in helping someone overcome a crystal meth addiction. Indeed, good therapy can be the most critical tool in helping someone overcome their addiction. As time has gone on, many forms of therapy have become available to individuals in recovery, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is one of the most popular forms of therapy available today. It involves addressing the way that a person thinks and discussing their emotions and feelings that led them to turn to drugs in the first place. If this therapy is successful, someone can see how these emotions led to behaviors like addiction. From there, that individual can work on their recovery, with the underlying psychological issues that led them to turn to crystal meth having been addressed.
- Motivational Interviewing, which involves addressing the underlying motivations that led someone to become addicted to crystal meth or other drugs. Motivational Interviewing acknowledges that addiction to crystal meth occurs because someone is motivated to do so — in this case, that motivation occurs as a specific result of the feelings that crystal meth intoxication brings. As such, it seeks to alter the motivations of a person who is addicted to crystal meth. Depending on the situation, it may also involve giving out vouchers or cash prizes for appropriate behavior.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which concentrates explicitly on melding stress-reduction, emotional regulation, and improving relationships with other people. This type of therapy has a wide range of applications in addiction, as it can address stress reduction and help someone identify which relationships need improvement. The end goal is to help someone remove the underlying currents that led to them getting addicted. This therapy can help someone identify the triggers that led to their crystal meth addiction and help ensure that they exhibit better behaviors that can keep them away from the drug.
Numerous studies have found that involving family members in therapy can often assist in the recovery of the individual in question. This is for many reasons: Family members can often work together to find the root causes of addiction, work out conflict, and learn how to be more supportive of the person who is abusing illegal substances.
In family therapy, families work together to discuss an individual’s addiction and its impact on the family. Family therapy is not meant to assign blame or judgment, but instead to help the entire family work together to overcome the addiction.
Sober living is another part of the recovery continuum of services. Sober living is defined as a residential facility in which individuals who have completed inpatient or outpatient treatment can live full time. It is not the same as a recovery center in that supervision levels are reduced and therapy is not nearly as frequent. However, the home is still supervised and clients usually still have therapeutic activities that can help them transition back into the real world.
Unfortunately, in many cases, sober living has acquired a bad reputation as a place where individuals who are recovering from addiction are simply housed. While some less-than-reputable recovery organizations treat these individuals very poorly, high-quality recovery programs — like Windward Way Recovery — treat sober living as an extension of their facilities. These sober living facilities will have:
- 24/7 support and guidance from certified addiction professionals.
- Appropriate monitoring to ensure that all individuals in the home adhere to the goal of sober living.
- Assistance in rebuilding relationships with other individuals and help in finding employment.
- Assistance in helping an individual become fully independent and transitioning back into the real world.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to crystal meth, you should know that there are numerous treatment facilities out there that can help you recover from your addiction and live a happy life. One such example is Windward Way Recovery. Located in Franklin, California, Cardinal offers a variety of treatment options, including outpatient and partial hospitalization modalities. Furthermore, Cardinal specializes in the treatment of many types of addiction and underlying problems, including addiction to crystal meth and related co-occurring disorders. You don’t need to wait — visit Cardinal’s website, or call today at (855) 491-7694.