Methamphetamine is a highly addictive illicit drug. Similar to cocaine—except cheaper and easier to come by—meth is a dangerous stimulant that affects the brain.
Meth addiction is a real and serious epidemic that targets at-risk youths and young adults. Sold on street corners across the country, the drug is readily available, fast-acting, and powerful.
If you’ve discovered that a loved one is struggling with a meth addiction, you are not alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 1 million people (12 and older) reported having Methamphetamine Use Disorder in 2017. And the numbers are even higher when you take into account all those that fail to seek help.
Watching a loved one spiral into addiction is a devastating experience that can leave many feeling alone. At New Life House, we specialize in helping young men achieve sobriety so that they can go on to live purpose-filled lives.
We offer a number of programs that can help recovering meth addicts, and other drug users, combat addiction.
Our Sober Living Facility helps young men break the cycle of addiction by removing them from the unhealthy habits and relationships that enable abuse. We have established a widespread community of alumni that have achieved long-lasting sobriety through our programs—and now they want to help other men achieve the same success.
If your son, brother, husband, friend, or someone else in your life is struggling with meth addiction, don’t wait to get help. Get in touch today to see if we’re the right fit for your family.
What Is Meth?
Meth, or methamphetamine, is a schedule 1 stimulant drug, similar to cocaine and crack. It is highly addictive, easy to create, and fairly cheap to purchase.
Methamphetamine is chemically similar to Adderall, a prescription drug used to treat ADHD. However, when abused meth is highly addictive and dangerous.
Types of Meth
Because meth is relatively easy for drug dealers to obtain or create themselves, it is widely available in illicit markets. Many of the ingredients in meth can be found at home or over-the-counter. Some common variations of methamphetamine include:
- Glass: Glass is considered the purest form of meth. It looks similar to crystal meth but it is usually more powerful and dangerous. This form of meth is clear and resembles rock salt. It is typically smoked, however, it can also be ejected or snorted. Other names for this drug include crank, shabu, and ice cream.
- Crystal Meth: This form of meth is crystallized and look like a white powder. It is a very powerful form of the drug and it is often snorted.
- Speed: Speed is the most widely sold form of meth on the streets. It is usually a greasy, poorly cut type of powder and it is much cheaper than crystal meth or glass. It is also a lot less pure and it can sometimes be laced with other illicit drugs.
All of these forms are dangerous and highly addictive.
Meth can either look like a white powder or it can be sold in crystallized form. It ranges from clear to white, yellow-ish and even different shades of blue. All the forms of meth can be ingested orally, snorted, or injected.
How it Works:
As a stimulant, methamphetamine affects the central nervous system. It works by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter ‘dopamine’ in the brain.
This naturally produced chemical is responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness. When an addict takes meth, they will often experience a “rush” of euphoria”. They will also experience wakefulness, faster heartbeats, and increased energy. This can become highly addictive and creates a chemical imbalance in the body.
Unfortunately, after the “rush” comes the crash. Once the effects wear off, addicts will experience unpleasant feelings that could influence them to take even more drugs. The crash is known for feelings of depression and anxiety as the body adjusts to the lack of dopamine.
The chemical imbalances caused by meth can damage the brain and decrease the body’s natural production of dopamine. Over time, addicts will build a tolerance to meth, creating a slippery slope where they depend on increasing amounts of the drug in order to feel pleasure.
Many have called meth the “worst drug” because of how dangerous, addictive, and easy-to-get it is. Youths and young adults are at the highest risk of meth addiction, and it is also considered a gateway for other narcotics.
How Is Meth Abused?
Meth is sold in various forms. It can be powdery or crystallized, clear or chalky, yellowish brown or even varying shades of blue.
There are many different ways addicts can consume meth. Some of the most common methods include:
- Smoking it through a glass pipe
- Crushing it into a powder and snorting it through the nose
- Injecting it with a syringe
- Consuming it orally in the form of a pill
If you suspect a loved one is abusing meth, look to see if they possess any drug paraphernalia. Some items used by meth addicts include:
- Glass “bulb” pipe
- Short Straws
- Burned aluminium foil
- Razor blades
- Burned spoons
- Baggies with a powdery substance
Keeping an eye out for these items can help you identity sings of addiction. Most addicts will lie when confronted with their paraphernalia but it is important to take action immediately if any of these items are found.
Is Meth Addictive?
One of the worst things about meth is how addictive it is.
Methamphetamine affects the body’s natural production of dopamine—a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for feelings of euphoria. The flood of dopamine users experience on the drug will give them an instant feeling of pleasure.
However, once the effects of the drug wear off, they will experience a “crash” and a serious dip in their mood.
The more an individual becomes dependant on meth to feel good, the more they will need to consume in order to achieve the same effects. This causes users to fall into “binge and crash” patterns.
To make things worse, continued use can seriously throw off the body’s natural chemical balance by damaging the brain’s dopamine system. Over time, the body develops a resistance to meth and becomes dependant the rush of dopamine it creates. This means that they need the drug in order to feel happy, and when they are experiencing withdrawal they will often fall into a depression.
For young users, in particular, meth is extremely addictive and can throw off the body’s natural chemical and hormonal balance. When used long-term the negative impacts and addictiveness level of this drug increases exponentially.
Why Is Meth So Dangerous?
Methamphetamine is an extremely dangerous drug for many reasons, but mainly because of its potential to manipulate the chemical makeup of the brain.
Over time, meth use can lead to lifelong and sometimes irreversible damage or overdose.
It is highly addictive: Many users only think about the short term effects of meth, and the euphoric “rush” caused by the drug. However, because the body becomes dependent on it over time, addicts will have to rely on increasing amount of methamphetamine in order to produce the same high as before. This creates a dangerous cycle where addicts feel like they need the drug all the time in order to feel good. As a result, they will often consume more and more meth, causing them to ingesting toxic levels of the drug.
It affects the brain and central nervous system: Because meth affects the central nervous system and the brain, long-term use can lead to some very serious consequences. Methamphetamine users can experience changes to their dopamine system and areas of the brain responsible for emotion and memory.
It can cause a heart attack or permanent damage to the body: In addition, the blood vessels in the brain and heart could be permanently damaged after long term meth use. High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and damage to the liver and kidneys puts users at risk of infectious diseases.
Meth is a stimulant which is why users often experience increased heart rates and irregular heartbeats when they are on the drug. If an addict ingests high levels of meth they could quickly go into cardiac arrest.
Further, the high caused by meth often decrease the user’s appetite and makes it difficult to sleep. This increased stress on the body caused by lack of sleep and malnutrition could also cause a heart attack.
It puts the user at risk of infectious diseases and overdose: Not only is the drug itself dangerous, but depending on how it’s consumed, users could experience additional health risks.
Those who inject meth, in particular, are at high risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV. But even those who snort it, or take it orally, could experience unwanted side effects if the drug is laced with other toxins.
It could cause overdose: Too many lives are lost due to accidental overdose, and when it comes to illicit drugs like meth, the chance of an overdose is very real. Methamphetamine is toxic to humans, and high levels of it could lead to overdose. In addition, if the drug is laced with anything else an accidental overdose could occur. In recent years, drugs laced with fentanyl have claimed many celebrity lives. The dangers of laced drugs have always existed and now more than ever society is realizing how widespread this epidemic truly is.
Overall, there are many reasons why meth is dangerous. It is toxic to the body and having too much of it in your system can cause overdose and even death. Whether an individual tries it once or they regularly abuse the drug, they are still putting their lives at risk each time.
What Are the Effects & Side Effects of Meth?
As a stimulant, meth is known for the surge of energy and enraptured sensation it gives users. However, once the drug starts to wear off, addicts will inevitably experience the plummet of coming down.
Some of the short term effects of meth include:
- Increased heart rate
- Euphoric rush
- Increased energy
- Decreased appetite
- Rapid/irregular heartbeat
- Feelings of depression once the drug wears off
Because methamphetamine is highly addictive, many first-timers fall into a cycle of abuse. When used long-term the dangers of meth increase exponentially, and the potential for overdose is very serious. Methamphetamine addiction is chronic and even once a person seeks help there is always a risk of relapse.
One of the main reasons why meth is so addictive is because of the changes it makes to one’s brain. Over time, users will develop a tolerance to meth, and they will feel like they need increasing doses of the drug in order to achieve the desired effect. This fuels further abuse, as addicts try to avoid the “crash” which comes with withdrawal.
Some of the long term effects of meth include:
- Psychosis, including hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, repetitive motor activity, etc
- Permanent damage to the brain’s dopamine system
- Memory loss
- Violent or aggressive behavior
- Mood swings
- Dental decay
- Rapid weight loss and malnutrition
- Permanent damage to blood vessels
- Skin sores
If an overdose occurs, users may experience seizures, heart attack, and even death.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and dangerous drug. It puts users at risk of heart and nervous system failures, contracting infectious diseases, and even death due to overdose.
Some of the effects of meth addiction are reversible if the individual seeks help. However, if their addiction becomes long term and the individual continue to abuse the drug, they could experience permanent and irreversible damage.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?
Methamphetamine is a relatively fast-acting drug. It produces near-instant gratification but the damaging effects of the drug can linger long after the high is gone.
While the effects of meth often last around 8-24hrs, it actually stays in the user’s system for about 2-10 days. This, of course, varies from person-to-person and it depends on how much of the stimulant is consumed.
Drug testing is an important step in detecting addiction. Typically, meth can be detected in a urine test up to 3-5 days after use. For chronic users, the drug may be detectable a bit longer, even up to 7 days.
Another common drug test is blood testing. Usually, meth remains in the bloodstream for 1-3 days. If you believe a loved one is suffering from drug use, it may be a good idea to seek multiple tests to confirm the results.
Lastly, methamphetamine is also detectable in a user’s hair—and you may be surprised at how long it’s present. Hair follicle testing is widely considered one of the most accurate forms of drug testing. While they are more expensive than urine and blood tests, hair follicle tests are able to reflect a much longer history of drug use. In general, methamphetamine remains in the hair for up to three months after use.
How Can I Tell If My Child Is Taking Meth?
Seeing a loved one fall into addiction is a heartbreaking experience. For parents, in particular, it can be difficult to see one’s child battle addiction and go through withdrawal.
Because meth is so accessible and affordable, it often targets youths and young adults. In fact, according to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the average age of new meth users in 2016 was just 23.3 years old.
If you suspect your child or another loved one is a victim of meth, there are some signs you can look for.
Often meth users will experience changes in their moods and personalities. They may display signs of depression, anxiety, irritability, and even aggression when they undergo withdrawal. Addicts will often result to lying and stealing in order to fuel their addictions, which can be extremely hurtful for loved ones to witness.
If you notice your child acting abnormally, keep a look out for the following behaviors:
- unexplained personality changes
- rapid mood swings and changes in energy level, meth users will be very active and restless during the “rush” and very low-energy and irritable during the “crash”
- acting irritable, violent, or aggressive
- displaying anxiety, depression, paranoia, or psychotic behavior
- lying, stealing, or keeping secrets
- in-and-out visits at random times of the day or night
- changes in sleep pattern, either experiencing insomnia or sleeping all day
- isolation and acting withdrawn
Another sign that your loved one may be taking drugs is the possession of meth paraphernalia. Keep a look out for the following items:
- glass pipes
- burned spoons
- baggies containing a white powdery residue or crystals
- razor blades
- short straws
- burned aluminum foil
Lastly, you should also look for physical signs of drug use or withdrawal, such as:
- bruises or scabs on the skin
- bloodshot eyes
- tooth/gum decay
- rapid weight loss
- teeth grinding
- excessive scratching or nose rubbing
- dilated pupils
Any of these signs can be a cause for concern. If you believe your child is taking meth, don’t wait to seek help. While meth is dangerous from the first time of use, it is important to break the cycle of addiction before long-term effects take hold.
How Can Someone Detox from Meth?
Detoxing from meth is a challenging and difficult process that is nearly impossible to go through alone.
Many addicts can be turned off to the idea of sobriety once detoxification kicks in. This is because withdrawal symptoms can be brutal. With meth addiction, recovery gets much worse before it starts to get better. However, there are ways to make the detoxification process more manageable.
By seeking professional medical help, a recovering addict will be able to mitigate some of their discomfort in a safe and controlled manner. This is achieved through the care of a medical team that specializes in addiction medicine. These doctors will be able to prescribe the right medications and treatment to help ease withdrawal.
Because meth is so highly addictive, the temptation of relapse is real—even after all the toxins have left the body. In order for an addict to fully recover from their addiction and remain sober, they need a strong support system and the right coping tools to battle temptation.
If you or a loved one is seeking detox from meth, the below steps are critical for recovery:
Seek Medical Help: Detoxing can be an extremely difficult, physically intensive process, which is why it is crucial to seek medical help immediately. Doctors and psychiatrists will be able to help addicts fight through their withdrawal symptoms, via a medically managed detoxification plan. They can assess the patient’s physical and mental needs as they work towards sobriety.
In order to detox, the patient will have to allow their body to rid itself of all toxins and re-establishing a healthy balance. This can be very unpleasant and uncomfortable, but it is crucial if the patient wants to live a sober, healthy life again. With long-term addicts, in particular, detox can be painful as their bodies became dependent on the drug. With long term meth addiction, it may take some time before the body’s dopamine system recovers. This can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety as the body readjusts to normal levels of dopamine production.
Though detox can be difficult, seeking medical help will make it much easier to stay on track and manage symptoms of withdrawal.
Break the Cycle of Addiction: When someone is going through a detox, it is key to break the cycle of addiction by physically removing them from toxic settings.
This means taking their phones away so that they can’t contact drug dealers or bad “friends.”
It means throwing out any remaining substances and removing any other vices (like alcohol, tobacco, gambling, etc.) that could fuel addictive personality traits.
It also means physically removing them from toxic settings to a sober environment where they can feel at home. By physically removing them from their setting they won’t be tempted to return to the same places where they could be tempted or pressured to abuse.
Find a Community: The expression ‘it takes a village’ truly applies here. Many survivors of addiction cite support groups as one of the most powerful tools in their recovery. Meeting others that are also working towards recovery can be a huge morale booster.
Often addicts feel very alone and ashamed of their circumstances. However, through support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Sober Living Facilities, addicts can surround themselves with a supportive community that is cheering them on every step of the way.
Having a mentor or a sobriety companion can feel like a lifeline when an individual is tempted by relapse. Not to mention, the positive reinforcement from these communities can help an individual live a meaningful, purpose-filled life.
These are just a few of the steps along the path of detox and recovery. As mentioned, meth detox can be very difficult on the body and mind. The temptation of relapse is strong, even after many years of sobriety.
How Can New Life House Help?
At New Life House, we want to be a beacon of light for those lost in the dark. Our mission is to help young men achieve lifelong addiction recovery—so that they can go on to lead fulfilling, sober lives.
If your family member or loved one is a victim of addiction, our team is here to help. We specialize in helping young men ages 18-32 overcome addiction so that they can enjoy a life of sobriety, purpose, and meaning. Our Sober Living Facility includes:
- 24/7 support
- in-house meetings
- a 12 step program
- positive peer collaboration
- a comprehensive structure
- and the elimination of distractions that could lead to relapse
Our widespread alumni community is a huge part of our continued success. Former New Life House alumni who have found long-lasting sobriety come back each year to create fellowships with the newer men and provide guidance. Together, our community offers critical, life-changing support that can help recovering addicts get on a path to sobriety and stay on track.
Whether your loved one is struggling with meth addiction, alcohol abuse, or another drug, New Life House may be able to help. We have a number of programs focused on sober living, counselling, outpatient rehab, teen drug abuse recovery, and more.
Contact Us Today
Watching a loved one spiral into addiction is a devastating experience — but you don’t have to face this alone.
At New Life House, we specialize in helping men ages 18-32 break the cycle of addiction, find sobriety, and go on to live purpose-filled lives. With our team of medical care experts and our community of survivors, we are here to help young men on their journeys towards recovery.
Addiction is a powerful thing that can completely take over a person’s life. We want to help men recover their lives so that they can live in the present and seek new opportunities for the future.
Our treatment facilities help recovering addicts remove themselves from the bad influences, peer pressure, habits, and situations that were fueling addiction. Through our sober living facility, patients can develop healthy routines and supportive mentorships — all in a controlled environment led by professional addiction experts.
We want to give your loved one the tools they need for a successful recovery, and the continued outpatient support for long-lasting success.
If you or a loved one need help, don’t wait! Contact us today to see if New Life House is a good fit for your family.