Crystal meth is a drug that many turned to for its stimulating effects. Also referred to as crystal methamphetamine, crystal meth is a highly addictive drug that has a significant and sometimes irreversible impact on the body’s central nervous system. Crystal meth is not a new drug. Interestingly, some formularies of methamphetamine are not illegal. Certain medications used to treat mental health conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder contain amphetamines. Also, crystal meth was provided to soldiers in World War Two to help them stay awake on the battlefield. Today, people use crystal meth for a range of reasons, including weight loss, improving depression symptoms, and as a widely used party drug.
Crystal meth is frequently manufactured in home labs or larger-scale manufacturing settings. It is produced by using common ingredients found in modern cold medicines formerly available over the counter. Now, due to the increase in illegal crystal meth manufacturing, many of these drugs are available on a limited basis. In its solid form, crystal meth comes in clear chunks or shiny rocks that appear blueish white in color and look much like a crystal or broken glass. The most common way people use crystal meth is by smoking. However, it can be crushed and mixed with liquids. When diluted to a liquid form, crystal meth can be injected directly into the vein. Some crystal meth users may also crush and snort it or crush it and swallow it like a crushed pill.
Understanding the Dangers of Crystal Meth Addiction
People can become addicted to crystal meth very, very quickly. In some cases, it requires just one use for an addiction to the effects of the drug to develop. Crystal meth produces an almost instantaneous high, which is very desirable for those looking to use it for its stimulating effects. The rate at which the effects of crystal meth occur is partially dependent on the mode of use. However, regardless of whether it is smoked, injected, or sorted, the ways in which crystal meth enters the body all bypass the body’s natural filtration system allowing the drug to proceed directly to the central nervous system.
Some drugs, when they are swallowed, are partially (if not entirely) filtered through the digestive system and the liver. This helps to reduce the intensity of the drug’s effects and helps to begin processing the drugs out of the body. Because crystal meth goes directly to the brain and central nervous system, it produces a rush or “high.” The peak effects of crystal meth are felt within minutes. For some cases, in as little as one minute but generally no longer than 15 minutes. Users can expect to feel the high produced by crystal meth for between four and eight hours. This is notably longer than many other fast-acting drugs.
It is vital to note that crystal meth addiction is dangerous. Without comprehensive treatment to help you overcome crystal meth addiction, the risk of overdose and overdose-related deaths is high. Research shows that someone who uses crystal meth regularly is nearly five times more likely to die from drug-related overdose than someone who does not. Recent data provided by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that crystal meth was responsible for the deaths of nearly 17,000 Americans in 2019.
How Crystal Meth Affects the Body
Someone who struggles with an addiction to crystal meth will experience both physical and psychological symptoms. How long these symptoms last and how severe they are will depend on specific factors related to the individual and “how” they use crystal meth. Although some effects are short-term and disappear as the drug is removed from the body through natural processes, others are long-term. Some of the long-term impacts of crystal meth use on the body can lead to life-long damage and life-threatening consequences.
The short-term effects of crystal meth use are those felt immediately (or within a short time) after using. These effects include primarily physical effects such as increased body temperature, abnormal heartbeat, appetite changes, increased energy levels, and elevated heart rate. As previously noted, the short-term effects of crystal meth use begin to fade as the presence of the drug in your system disappears.
Long-term and generally more dangerous effects of crystal meth use result from chronic or regular use and abuse of the drug. Without treatment and with ongoing use, the effects of crystal meth will lead to significant and harmful effects on the body and brain. If you or a loved one have a long-term addiction to crystal meth, physical symptoms such as dangerous weight loss, irregular heartbeat, difficulties breathing (irregular breathing patterns), and notable functional and structural changes to the brain. Regular crystal meth use over a long period can also cause immune system dysfunction, difficulties sleeping, liver disease and damage, seizures, brain damage, heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, and death.
Mental and behavioral health changes are also common side effects of crystal meth use. Similar to the emotional and physical challenges that arise from crystal meth addiction, mental health and behavioral impacts are also short-term and long-term. Part of the reason many people develop an addiction to crystal meth is the sense of euphoria produced when using it. When someone smokes, snorts, or injects crystal meth, the euphoric effects are felt almost immediately. Other short-term effects are generally felt within one to fifteen minutes and will last for about the same amount of time as the drug remains detectable in the system. Unfortunately, the effects of crystal meth only last for a few hours (8 hours at the most), and once they wear off, users want to use them again to maintain their high, leading to long-term and potentially deadly effects.
The long-term effects of crystal meth use span a range of mental health struggles and behavioral changes. Many of the long-term consequences of crystal meth addiction do not fade with time and become lasting physical and psychological struggles that require in-depth addiction treatment at a skilled drug and alcohol rehab like The Hills in Los Angeles to address. If you or a loved one are addicted to crystal meth, you may experience panic attacks, aggression, legal problems, new or worsening mental health symptoms, violent mood swings, paranoia, hallucinations, “meth mouth,” risky behaviors, increased isolation, psychosis and experiencing a “break” from reality. You may also notice behavioral changes such as lying and stealing money and the development of new physical health problems, including significant medical problems like organ damage, organ failure, brain damage, liver damage, and death.
The risks for overdose from crystal meth use are high. A 2017 report on methamphetamine use and drug overdose deaths resulting from methamphetamine use indicted as many as 15% of all drug-related overdose deaths for that year involved methamphetamines. In 2019, methamphetamines were linked to approximately 17,000 of the 70,600+ drug overdose deaths for the year. These numbers are representative of the steady increase in overall drug overdose cases and drug overdose deaths related to methamphetamine in the United States over the last decade.
How to Safely and Effectively Overcome Crystal Meth Addiction
Crystal meth addiction is dangerous, and without seeking help from a treatment center like The Hills to detox and heal from addiction, crystal meth addiction can be deadly. For those who seek help to overcome crystal meth addiction, the first step in their treatment program is generally detox. Although challenging and often unpleasant, the detox process is an essential part of healing from drug addiction. During detox, your body cleanses itself from all remaining traces of crystal meth. Because you aren’t using, and the cravings you have for the drug are not satisfied during detox, withdrawal symptoms occur during the early stages of detox. Without the care and support of a medically assisted detox program, these can be challenging to manage, and some people begin using crystal meth again to help eliminate withdrawal symptoms.
During medically supported detox, medical and mental health specialists will provide physical and emotional support to help you navigate detox safely and effectively. Depending on your unique experience during withdrawal, members of your medical team may provide medications to help ease the discomfort of certain withdrawal symptoms. Once detox is complete, you can begin working on achieving and maintaining lasting sobriety through therapy. The most effective crystal meth treatment programs will include a range of therapy options, including evidence-based treatments, alternative therapies, nutritional support, and aftercare planning and guidance.
If you or a loved one struggles with crystal meth addiction, seeking treatment is vital to your health and safety. A long-term crystal meth addiction will, in time, lead to harmful and potentially fatal impacts on your body and brain. Seeking help at our luxury rehab center in Los Angeles, California, ensures you will have the care and support you need to begin your journey to overcoming addiction in the safest and most comfortable environment possible. Our caring and compassionate treatment team understand the process of acknowledging a harmful relationship with drugs and choosing to seek help are complex and highly personal decisions.
It is essential for you to detox and begin working towards recovery in a treatment center like The Hills, where all of our treatment plans are designed with the individual’s unique needs in mind. We will work with you from the very beginning to ensure detox, treatment, and aftercare plans focus on your specific physical, emotional and spiritual goals as you focus on healing and putting the struggles of addiction in the past. If you would like to learn more about our Los Angeles area drug and alcohol rehab, contact our admissions team today to ask about our programs and schedule a tour of The Hills.