What are the Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Use?
Speed, meth, chalk. In its smoked form, it is often referred to as ice, crystal, crank, or glass. Those are all street names for methamphetamine (mAMP). Call it what you may, but meth use and its symptoms are one in the same. If it’s taken in large doses, methamphetamine’s frequent effects are irritability, aggressive behavior, anxiety, excitement, auditory hallucinations, and paranoia along with delusions and psychosis. Meth abusers tend to be violent. Mood changes are also common, and the abuser can rapidly change from friendly to hostile. The paranoia produced by methamphetamine abuse results in suspiciousness, hyperactive behavior, and dramatic mood swings.
Meth appeals to drug abusers because it increases the body’s metabolism and produces euphoria, increases alertness, and gives the abuser a sense of increased energy. High doses or chronic use of meth, however, increases nervousness, irritability, and paranoia. The extreme paranoia that meth abusers can experience is often associated with a distorted tendency toward violence. Adverse consequences of meth abuse include the risk of stroke, heart failure, and prolonged psychosis.
Methamphetamine use has three patterns: low intensity, binge, and high intensity.
Low-intensity abuse describes a user who is not psychologically addicted to the drug and who administers the drug by swallowing or snorting it. Binge and high-intensity abusers are psychologically addicted and prefer to smoke or inject meth to achieve a faster and stronger high. The binge and high-intensity patterns of abuse differ in the frequency in which the drug is abused. While the binge pattern of abuse has seven stages within its cycle: rush, high, binge, tweaking, crash, normal, and withdrawal-the high-intensity abuse pattern usually does not include a state of normalcy or withdrawal.
“Tweakers”, which are referred to those who are at the most dangerous state of meth abuse, is a meth user who is tweaking. This meth abuser probably has not slept in 3-15 days and, consequently, the symptoms would be irritability and paranoia. A tweaker does not need provocation to behave or react violently, but confrontation increases the chances of a violent reaction. If the tweaker is using alcohol, his negative feelings and associated dangers intensify.
Several hours after the last meth use, the individual experiences a drastic drop in mood and energy levels. Sleep begins and may last for a long period and, upon awakening, severe depression exists that may last for days. While users are in this depressed state, suicide is a major concern. These meth abuse symptoms occur after meth use and may be reversed by taking another dose of methamphetamine, thereby fitting the definition for a withdrawal syndrome.
Now, get out your pen and paper and take notes if you see these short term effects in your teenager or loved one. Short term meth abuse symptoms are increased alertness, sense of well-being, paranoia, intense high, hallucinations, aggressive behavior, increased heart rate, convulsions, extreme rise in body temperature (as high as 108 degrees which can cause brain damage and death), uncontrollable movements (twitching, jerking, etc…), violent behavior, insomnia, impaired speech, dry and itchy skin, premature aging, rotting teeth, loss of appetite, acne, sores and numbness.
Some of the effects that meth abuse has on the mind are also symptoms of meth use. These meth use symptoms are disturbed sleep, excessive excitation, excessive talking, panic, anxiousness, nervousness, moodiness and irritability, false sense of confidence and power, delusions of grandeur leading to aggressive behavior, uninterested in friends, sex, or food, aggressive and violent behavior, and severe depression.
After excessive meth abuse, there are long term effects as well, such as fatal kidney and lung disorders, possible brain damage, depression, hallucinations, disorganized lifestyle, permanent psychological problems, violent and aggressive behavior, weight loss, insomnia, behavior resembling paranoid schizophrenia, decreased social life, malnutrition, poor coping abilities, disturbance of personality development, lowered resistance to illnesses, liver damage, stroke and the inevitable, death.
There are also withdrawal symptoms that a meth abuser will partake in when coming off of meth or “crashing”. If you see the symptoms of severe cravings, insomnia, restlessness,mental confusion or depression, chances are that the meth is exiting their system.
If you have been watching your teenager or loved one and your suspicians are pointing into the direction of meth abuse and you are seeing the symptoms of meth abuse, don’t ignore them. Go with your instincts and in a loving and caring manner, let your teen or loved one know that you will help them seek the counseling they need to rid themselves of meth or any other drug abuse.. If you continue to see the signs and symptoms of meth use, you may either want to take your teen or loved one to his/her doctor or other medical professional and ask them to screen for the use of illegal substances. If you’re not comfortable with revealing your suspcians to an outsider, it is also possible to screen your teenager or loved one in the privacy of your own home with home urine drug testing kits, saliva drug testing kits and hair drug testing kits.