Crystal meth might conjure up the thought of the popular series Breaking Bad. We witnessed firsthand how to make bathtub crank through Walter White’s chemical expertise. If you haven’t watched the series, you’re probably aware of the problems crystal meth has caused in the US. It’s illegal, highly addictive and deteriorates the body and mind quickly.
A manmade substance, it’s a c10h15n structure that people make in a lab. Crystal meth is clear crystal chunks or alternatively blue-white rocks. This is why it’s also referred to as “ice” or “glass.” It can be snorted, swallowed and injected. The most common way of using it however, is to smoke it with a small glass pipe. Meth effects last for up to 12 hours.
The drug was originally a nasal decongestant in the 1930s. A powerful psychostimulant, meth was originally given to soldiers in World War II to keep them awake. It has also been used as a way to reduce depression and lose weight. Meth is illegal however there are prescription weight loss tablets called desoxyn and ADHD medications that contain it.
The Highs of Crystal Meth
Methamphetamine intoxication is a common side effect for meth users. It’s the reason people are attracted to experimenting with ice. The side effects such as pleasure, confidence and energy that come with a crystal meth high is what creates addiction quickly. The drug is especially addictive for those who have experience traumatic experiences in life. With crystal meth, the user doesn’t feel the normal emotions that might usually plague them.
Meth users are after the sensation of the euphoria more than anything else. This feeling is one of the main reasons recreational drug users become addicts. They receive a rewarding feeling that keeps them looking for the next high. Meth works differently on everyone so some will find that they become less aware of their feelings which is often a form of relief.
The Lows of Crystal Meth
Taking crystal meth can be much like Russian roulette. While one person can feel highly euphoric, another user may get a sense of paranoia and wish the high would end. Crystal meth can feel terrible for the user when they first begin using.
When a person is high on meth, it influences them physically and psychologically. Some changes are caused by the effects that meth has on the central nervous system. Personal feelings are amplified on meth so if someone has some negative feelings, this can cause a bad trip. It’s common that you’d look for ways to make your ice high go away because it can feel like too much. The problem is, it’s a 12 hour high so the user has to manage a bad trip for long periods of time.
What goes up, must come down and that is one of the worst realities about meth. When the high is over, there will be a rock bottom crash. Part of the reason methamphetamines are so highly abused is to negate the awful feelings of the comedown. Abuse very quickly becomes crystal meth addiction that is hard to recover from. All the dopamine that flooded into the brain disappears, leaving the user much lower than when they started.
Physical Effects and Mind Tricks
At first, the body rejects meth so initially, physical symptoms of meth intoxication can be pretty awful. Through enough use, the brain starts to associate the awful symptoms with the pleasure of the high. This creates a tolerance to even the most unpleasant meth effects. The brain has a hard time determining what is right and wrong.
An ice users behavior has a lot to do with how the drug affects the mind. The mind tells the body that it is capable of great feats. Of course, it isn’t but this is the mental effect of using meth for some. In regards to meth addiction, studies have found that after three months, users will likely go back to the drug. They believe they can quit on their own as opposed to getting professional addiction help. This is because the withdrawal symptoms are more mental than physical.
The relapse rate for crystal using is three months. While one might quit cold turkey, there will still be a mental addiction to the drug that’s hard to kick. The memories of the ice crash will have faded and meth addicts will begin to crave the drug. They tell themselves they can’t be happy without it. Unlike other drugs, meth withdrawal seems more of a mental problem than a physical one.
Tweaking on Meth
When someone is on meth, they will feel different physically. The body is highly stimulated and meth can causes a steady increase in heart rate, breathing can become faster. People might feel really hot or cold and tend to sweat, feel nauseous and even vomit. They also tweak out which feels pretty incredible to the meth user.
Someone on ice will likely fidget a lot as they have excess energy and the body is buzzing. The high lasts for up to 12 hours and during this time, you are unable to sleep because the body is too stimulated. Negative side effects from the stimulation can include anxiety, delusions, and hallucinations. Crystal meth users will often think that bugs are crawling all over them which causes them to pick at their skin. This causes open wounds that become scars, also known as meth sores, and is a telltale sign of heavy meth use.
Sense of Empowerment on Ice
One of the signs of meth addiction is someone that is using crystal meth is they have an illusion of grandeur. They believe they are more powerful or more productive than they actually are. This gives users a good feeling. Meth can cause delusion with reality becoming highly distorted. Meth can bring new confidence to people who are painfully shy. A person will gain courage they didn’t have before. They may also feel superior to others which is when they become obnoxious, paranoid or aggressive.
After a trip, users will often wake up to meth use related injuries. While high on meth, they feel invisible which can be to their detriment. They may believe they can lift heavy items or run fast enough across the street to avoid the oncoming traffic. Strained muscles, bruising, broken bones, and knife wounds are some of the reported injuries that occur on a crystal meth trip.
A study was done with 461 patients who screened positive for methamphetamine along with 32,156 that admitted themselves into emergency rooms over the US. What they found was a strong connection of blunt trauma injuries and methamphetamine use. The main injuries involved car accidents but other consideration were gunshot wounds, stab wounds, and assaults.
The meth high causes a lack of awareness so behaviors can be quite astonishing. As a meth user goes through addiction recovery, these are often things that they will have to address about themselves to move forward. When sober, they become aware of how many times they risked their lives.
Negative Side Effects During an Ice High
When someone is high on methamphetamines, the pleasurable feelings come with a price. There are many negative, dangerous side effects that come with using meth. Here are the adverse effects:
- An increase in heart rate with abnormal rhythm.
- Blood pressure increases.
- Body temperature fluctuates quickly.
- Decreased appetite.
- Feelings of anxiety, depression and/or panic.
- Aggressive outbursts.
- Racing thoughts.
- A hard time standing still and relaxing.
- Extreme highs and lows.
- Delusional thoughts.
- The inability to think rationally can cause risky or violent behavior.
- Problems with breaking the law due to character changes while high.
Connection to Meth Abuse and Psychological Problems
Research has found a connection between meth addiction and those who suffered trauma due from abusive childhoods. Meth addiction will often be a result of users seeking the drug to get away from the negative feelings that plague them. Meth allows them to get a break from the burden of anxiety, stress, and fear in someone who has suffered trauma. Many users also have social anxiety and enjoy the feeling of not feeling afraid to socialize with others like high on meth.
While meth use might seem like their savior, studies have found that meth perpetuates psychosis. Their lives become chaotic once meth addiction has developed. They stop taking care of themselves, stop caring about how they look to other. They stop bathing and brushing their teeth. This is part of the reason that open wounds and severe tooth decay are symptoms in heavy meth users.
Long Term Effects of Meth
When meth is used for a long time, both physical and psychological issues grow in intensity.
Meth effects starts very early and only get more complex the longer it’s abused.
Long term crystal meth effects include:
- Psychotic symptoms become persistent which include delusions, paranoia, and hallucination.
- An increase in mood disorders like depression, anxiety and the desire to isolate oneself.
- Strange behavior due to confusion.
- Delusions such as bugs crawling on the skin.
- Body sores will occur all over the body with long term users due to constant skin picking.
- Lung problems due to inhaling meth regularly.
- Damage to the blood vessels that can’t be reversed which includes the heart and brain.
- Potential for sudden death due to cardiac arrest or stroke.
- Potential to fall into a coma.
- The body is unable to heal due to the deterioration of tissues and blood vessels. This physically manifests as dull skin full of acne with very little elasticity. The teeth will also begin to decay and crack. This is known as “meth mouth,” a condition associated with meth use.
What Makes Meth so Addictive?
Most people recovering from meth addiction say the same thing. Many will continue to use the drug in order to get that initial feeling they experienced upon first use. When reflecting on their addiction, they say they could never achieve that same first high. Meth causes the brain to release more dopamine than it normally would which is where the euphoric feeling comes from. Dopamine is the chemical that allows us to feel pleasure and at a deeper level is part of the reward process of the mind. The increase of dopamine is what causes the addiction to many drugs, including meth.
The positive feeling from dopamine is so powerful and rewarding, something we are driven by, that it reinforces behavior to continue meth use over and over. Users will become tolerant to the substance and need to take more to experience the high they’re after. This puts them at risk of overdose and causes further dependency.
Dopamine receptor activity will in time become impaired which can cause problems with the brain, a sense of unhappiness and numbness. The crystal meth crash often comes with feelings of suicide due to desperation. The intense amount of dopamine that is release by using crystal meth will make a user feel incredible. When the crash comes and there’s no dopamine stimulation, the depression comes quickly. Many will just keep using to avoid the terrible feeling that the come down brings.
Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms of crystal meth can include the following:
- A deep sense of despair and depression.
- Intense desire to use meth.
- Eyes can become itchy.
- Insomnia or oversleeping.
- A sudden increase in appetite.
Crystal Meth Recovery
The symptoms can cause great discomfort for someone trying to detox. It can often lead users to relapse just to get one more fix. A medically supervised detox is recommended for crystal meth detox due to the complexity and potency of the addiction.
Once a crystal meth addict has detoxed from the drug, there is still a long road to full recovery. Detox is the initial act of getting the drug out of the system. Without therapy, the user will likely not have the mental strength to stay off meth. As so many users started to use in order to numb their feelings, this needs to be addressed in order for full recovery to occur. Inpatient and intensive outpatient drug treatment is available specifically to help with crystal meth addiction.
An in-depth study found that the physical and mental effects of meth are far more dangerous than being portrayed in the media. Physically, there is a risk of cardiovascular problems along with dependency, and blood-borne virus transmission. Meth effects include a manifestation of psychological issues. This includes something called methamphetamine psychosis. Depression, anxiety and violent behaviors can occur when someone is high on meth.
The Reality of Rock Bottom When Using Crystal Meth
The drug abuse warning network has released information stating that ice drug addiction is high. Crystal meth is the fourth most mentioned illicit drug based on emergency room visits. It sits under cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. The high of crystal meth can often alter a person’s mind the first time they use.
Serious health issues arise that are irreversible. Blood vessels become damaged in the brain which can result in strokes, cardiovascular issues. Liver, kidney and lung damage is also common. Crystal meth quickly takes over someone’s life, especially if they experience physiological issues beforehand. Meth is one of those rock bottom drugs that cause people to lose everything and age exponentially.