Crystal meth is a purified form of the stimulant methamphetamine. The dangers of crystal meth are largely related to how easy it is to manufacture, combined with its extremely addictive qualities. It is so addictive that anyone abusing crystal meth is best served by enrolling in a meth addiction treatment program quickly, without waiting for some of the effects of crystal meth—either short- or long-term—to appear.
You can find out about crystal meth, its dangers, and how to escape its grip with evidence-based meth addiction treatment by calling Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) at 844.442.8673. We will answer all your questions and guide you to the best possible outcome.
Short-Term Effects of Crystal Meth
Crystal meth abuse tends to lead quickly to side effects that become more severe in direct correlation to the intensity of the drug’s use. Some of the immediate side effects of meth abuse are behavioral or mental. However, unlike some other seriously addictive drugs, other effects of crystal meth abuse are very prominently visible.
Some of these short-term effects include:
- Bald patches resulting from pulling at hair and scratching the scalp
- Meth mouth, referring to decaying and broken teeth (most common among those who smoke meth)
- Nasal damage and decay (among snorters)
- Track marks (among IV users)
- Violent outbursts
- Mood swings
- Sores and abscesses on the skin caused by compulsive scratching or picking
- Extreme weight loss
- Paranoid delusions
Tweaking refers to specific uncontrollable behaviors that occur at the end of a meth binge.
Tweaking and Crystal Meth Abuse
Chronic use of crystal meth is a relentless bombardment of the brain and body. Crystal meth interacts with the dopamine receptors in the brain, resulting in quick euphoric highs that fade quickly, which in turn leads to the urge to binge—continuously and compulsively take meth for days on end. This is often referred to as a run, during which crystal meth abusers don’t eat, sleep, or do much but try to maintain their high, which requires increasing amounts as tolerance builds quickly with this drug. The binge leads to a crash, at which point the abuser’s system is exhausted and depleted. There is no way to regain the euphoria until the body and brain have rested.
This period is when tweaking occurs. The term describes the time when overwhelming cravings cannot be resolved easily by using meth because the body is wiped out. This in-between stage is agony for the person with a meth addiction. Tweaking also occurs when the supply of meth runs out, and the abuser has to stop cold turkey until they acquire more.
Tweaking is characterized by:
- An inability to sleep for up to days at a time
- The sensation of bugs crawling under the skin, leading to relentless itching, followed by compulsive scratching
- Increasing emotional instability and paranoia
- Hallucinations and, at times, a complete dissociation from reality, similar to psychosis
The symptoms of tweaking are easily recognizable. The person in this state has no control over their reactions and physical and emotional circumstances. The only way to end the cycle of binge and crash is to enter a meth addiction treatment program.
Long-Term Effects of Crystal Meth
Even more unsettling than tweaking and other short-term side effects of crystal meth are the long-term effects.
These effects are often permanent. The clock cannot be turned back on them if too much time has passed. The best chance of avoiding these long-term effects of crystal meth addiction is to enter meth rehab.
The most significant long-term results of meth addiction are:
Functional changes to the brain take place as a result of long-term exposure to meth. Areas that are most often damaged are the parts of the brain that relate to memory and emotion. The resulting damage to memory centers can cause a loss of memory or an inability to lay down new memories. Emotional regulation and expression are compromised. Sometimes motor coordination and speed, as well as cognition, can be interfered with as well.
You may have seen photos of meth users who seem to have aged prematurely. This is a very real phenomenon that happens on the cellular level. Chronic meth abusers and those with an addiction over-produce ceramides, which are lipids linked to accelerated aging. Loss of muscle tone and fat in the face as well as throughout the body leads even young meth users to look older and feel tired and weak.
Lack of Impulse Control
The loss of brain function that results from long-term use and addiction has a negative, often permanent, impact on impulse control and decision-making, which often leads to violent behavior. A tendency to take risks with one’s life or those of others is a sign that the brain’s normal system of checks and balances has been interfered with.
Crystal Meth Treatment at PAATC
If you are worried about your own use of crystal meth or about someone you care about, don’t wait to reach out. Let the professional staff at PAATC help you. Call to speak to someone today at 844.442.8673.
At PAATC, our range of evidence-based therapies, inpatient and outpatient rehabs, and faith-based options provide you with a substantial foundation of support and care that will help you start your recovery journey.