Methamphetamine is a drug in the stimulant class. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use, over a million Americans used methamphetamine in the year prior, and almost half a million in the month prior to the survey.
Abused for its stimulating effects and euphoric properties, meth is highly addictive and can cause long term damage to the brain and the body. Similar in chemistry to amphetamine, meth is an illicit substance sometimes referred to on the street as crank, ice, crystal, and speed. Meth may be used by itself, or with other drugs like opioids as a form of polysubstance abuse.
Side Effects of Meth Use
Like many other drugs, crystal meth can cause both short-term and long-term effects. Side effects of drug use vary between individuals, and may be influenced by the age of the user, the dose of use, the length of use, and the individual’s mental health state. Common side effects of methamphetamine abuse include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Increase in blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping
- Severe mood swings
- Agitation and anger
- Rapid heart rate
- Anxiety and panic
- Tremors or seizures
With long-term use, side effects are likely to worsen. In addition, longer-term use may result in side effects that last for years after quitting. Individuals may have trouble sleeping, experience anxiety, and experience fluctuations in body temperature for weeks or months after quitting ice. Research suggests that long-term methamphetamine use may result in motor slowing and memory impairment as well.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
When quitting meth, you may go through an unpleasant withdrawal process. Withdrawal happens as your brain and body adapt to functioning without a drug and chemicals in the body. Crystal meth withdrawal occurs in the days following a meth user’s last use, and generally worsen over the first week before subsiding.
Although every individual is different, here are the most common symptoms of withdrawal you may experience:
- Intense fatigue
- Irritation and anger
- Trouble falling and staying asleep
- Difficulty speaking and thinking
- Lack of motivation
- Cravings for more meth
- Suicidal and/or homicidal ideation
- Meth induced psychosis
Drug-induced psychosis is most commonly thought of perhaps in regards to meth abuse. The American Psychiatric Association states that psychosis is the state in which delusions and hallucinations are present, and it may come from other sources than drug abuse or withdrawal. During a period of psychosis, individuals are often unaware of themselves and the world around them, creating a situation in which many people are put at risk of harm.
With meth induced psychosis, individuals may begin to experience symptoms within the first few days after quitting. The psychosis is brought on by the changes in brain chemistry when removing drugs from the system, and can persist for a few days or a few weeks after quitting.
Meth Induced Psychosis Symptoms
Meth psychosis varies between individuals, but it is generally characterized by three qualities:
Hallucinations are perhaps the most obvious of symptoms related to psychosis. We commonly think of hallucinations relating to the visual field, but these may be at any of the five sense doors. Often, those experiencing meth psychosis experience auditory hallucinations, or hearing sounds and voices which are not truly present. They may also experience hallucinations in the physical body, feeling sensations like itching which are not present.
Second, the individual may experience delusions. The most common delusion experienced with psychosis is a delusion of persecution, or that people are out to harm us. An individual coming off meth may also experience delusions of grandeur, or the delusion in which they believe they are special or chose in some way. Finally, there is the delusion in which random events are connected, which is the brain finding patterns where there are none.
Finally, those experiencing psychosis exhibit obsessive behavior. It may be something menial and small, or a big-picture obsession with a social institution. Things like cleaning, tapping, and taking things apart are common obsessions meth users experience.
Recovering from Methamphetamine Addiction
In order to have the best chance at staying sober, it is recommended to seek help in order to recover. There are many addiction treatment centers out there that can help you detox and find proper help. If you’re coming off meth, please reach out for help. You don’t have to go it alone, and professionals can help you get the best chance at living a life free of drugs.