Meth, or methamphetamine, is a stimulant that wreaks havoc on the central nervous system. Abusing meth is incredibly dangerous, but the drug’s addictive properties make it hard to stop consumption. If a loved one displays symptoms of meth abuse, professional help is required. Learning how to spot a meth addiction can make a difference in the life of someone you care about.
Increase in Paranoia or Violent Behavior
Meth addiction can impact mental health in a number of worrying ways. Abusing meth can worsen existing mental illnesses, but it can also introduce new conditions. While many behavioral problems are possible, paranoia and violence may pinpoint a specific problem with meth.
Using meth for a prolonged period of time increases the likelihood of paranoia. Meth users may feel like others are out to get them. They might discuss conspiracy theories or they might take extreme security measures to prevent being watched or spied on. People who try to help might even begin to look suspicious to a meth user.
Meth changes the way users perceive reality. That can result in paranoia, but it can also result in violence. People who would never hurt another person might lash out violently when under the influence of meth. If your loved one begins acting in a paranoid or violent way, it may be because of meth abuse or addiction.
Rapid Weight Loss
It isn’t always easy to recognize meth abuse. One of the most drastic and visible symptoms, however, is appearance. Many meth users will lose weight rapidly.
There are several reasons why a meth user might lose weight. To start, meth reduces appetite. That means that people are focused more on using and acquiring meth than eating or buying food. A reduced appetite, of course, means malnutrition as well as weight loss.
Many meth users also see their heart rate and energy level increase when on the drug. Meth is a stimulant, and it can overstimulate the metabolism in the short term. The body temperature can increase drastically, which in turn burns more calories. Keep in mind that this is definitely dangerous, and rapid weight loss is not desirable or healthy, especially if it involves any kind of drug use.
Scabs or Scratches on the Skin
It is normal for meth users to have scratches or scabs on their skin. These sores can appear on the face, the arms or any other exposed area. This can happen because of itching or even paranoia.
Many meth users can feel and sometimes even see bugs crawling underneath their skin. This is a hallucination, but it can feel very real when under the influence of methamphetamine.
In order to get rid of these bugs, some meth users scratch constantly at their skin. Over time, they can actually draw blood and cause scabs and scarring. It can even become a habit or a tic, and often meth users scratch their skin without realizing it.
If you notice that someone regularly scratches their skin, it could be a warning sign. Also, look for scabs and red sores on the skin. Wearing long sleeves to cover up these marks might also point to a serious problem.
Perhaps the visible symptom most associated with a meth addiction is dental decay. Rotting or discolored teeth are known as meth mouth when they are caused by a meth addiction. Meth negatively affects dental hygiene in many ways. Increased sugar consumption, a reduction in enamel and reduced brushing are the biggest culprits.
Meth users may have a reduced appetite overall, but they may experience cravings for sugar. Many meth users have a dry mouth and like to drink sugary sodas throughout the day. This, of course, is not a good thing for teeth. Chronic sugar consumption definitely detracts from overall dental health.
In addition, meth is packed with caustic chemicals. Making meth can include ingredients like paint thinner or battery acid. Needless to say, these chemicals are terrible for teeth. They can strip the enamel, increasing the likelihood of cavities and rapid decay.
Topping it all off is the reduction in dental hygiene habits. Meth users are unlikely to brush their teeth twice a day, use mouthwash or remember to floss. This breakdown in hygiene, when combined with sugar and chemicals, can hasten the appearance of meth mouth.
Feeling Warm in Cold Environments
Like other stimulants, meth can speed up or increase several bodily functions. It is normal to experience an increase in heart rate as well as an increase in body temperature. This increase in temperature can be a sign that a person is struggling with meth abuse or addiction.
A person who has trouble regulating their temperature while on meth might always appear warm. Flushed cheeks, or being out of breath, may be common. Meth users may not wear coats, sweaters or jackets, even in cold temperatures.
On its own, this is not a sign of a meth addiction. However, it can point to a drug abuse problem when combined with other common symptoms.
Changes to Appearance, Routine or Personality
Perhaps the most helpful way to identify the symptoms of meth abuse is to look for the changes. Meth will change the way that a person looks, acts, thinks and behaves. It can impact personality and routine. Noting these changes, especially rapid changes, can be cause for concern.
A person who is always calm might suddenly act hostile or violent. A person who is regularly sociable might avoid gatherings with friends and family. A colleague who is never late for work could start missing entire days due to unexplained sickness.
Changes to appearance can also suggest a drug problem. When under the influence of a drug like meth, individuals probably won’t spend as much time on grooming, makeup or hygiene. If this is a big departure from normal, then taking action could be necessary.
If you recognize more than one of these symptoms in a loved one, then meth abuse could be a problem. Fortunately, identifying the addiction is the first step toward finding and completing the necessary treatment.