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Crystal Meth Abuse

Does experimentation = abuse?


Methamphetamine (or meth) has limited medical uses. The medication has very limited use in the treatment of obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

However, the crystal form of methamphetamine – crystal meth – has no medical applications. Crystal meth is always obtained illegally, generally manufactured in labs in homes and warehouses. This means that any form or production, selling, purchasing, or use for experimentation, recreation, or other reasons…is considered to be crystal meth abuse.

But, why do people use crystal meth? What are the risks? Read on to learn more about crystal meth abuse, signs of abuse, and potential risks and adverse side effects. Then, find out ways to can help address crystal meth abuse in yourself or an affected loved one.


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If you’d like to learn more, please send us your questions and comments via the designated section at the end of the page and we’ll do our best to answer personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

How is crystal meth abused?

Crystal meth can be:

  • smoked
  • snorted
  • injected
  • swallowed

These are all possible modes of abuse. The most popular way of abusing crystal, however, is heating it up and smoking it through a glass pipe. Crushing the drug to be snorted or injected is a less popular way to take it. Oral use is also uncommon, but still a possible way to deliver crystal meth into the system.

Why people abuse crystal meth?

Mainly, crystal meth is abused for its effects.

Young adults usually abuse the drug at raves, parties, and in dance clubs. Those who suffer from depression may turn to crystal meth for its uplifting effect. Some take it to increase the libido and sexual pleasure. Others, usually women, abuse crystal meth because it causes weight loss.

But, the reasons behind drug abuse can be as different as each person who takes it, and go much deeper than curiosity or recreation. In fact, there are some commonly observed factors that can influence a person’s risk of drug abuse. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • A personal or family history of substance abuse.
  • A traumatic past event or traumatizing form of abuse (emotional, physical, psychological).
  • An environment in which crystal meth abuse is present and normalized.
  • Biological makeup or brain structure that makes you susceptible to addictive behaviors.
  • Underlying mental illnesses (major depression, bipolar disorder and dysthymia).

Signs and symptoms

Some of the immediate signs of abuse can be observed in a person’s behavior, because crystal meth causes a false sense of happiness and well-being. Someone who’s taken crystal meth will also experience decreased appetite. These drug effects generally last from 6-8 hours, but can take up to 24 hours to diminish.

The main behavioral signs of crystal meth use can making a person appear:

  • feeling strong
  • energetic
  • confident
  • hyperactive
  • nervously pickings at their body
  • uncharacteristically talkative
  • violent

Physical signs of abuse include:

  • breathing problems and coughing
  • dental issues
  • dilated pupils
  • increased risk of infectious diseases
  • meth mouth
  • red eyes
  • scabs and skin lesions
  • tweaking

Psychological signs of abuse include:

  • anxiety
  • assertiveness
  • compulsive and obsessive behaviors
  • confusion
  • decline in reasoning, motor skills, and judgement
  • heightened aggression
  • insomnia
  • nervousness
  • paranoia

Are these signs and symptoms true for you or someone close to you? It may be time to quit abusing crystal meth! In fact, the sooner you seek out treatment – the better your chances of making a full recovery. So why wait? Talking to a trained medical professional is the right first step towards a happy, drug-free future.

Risks and dangers

Repeated and chronic crystal meth abuse can leave it’s mark on every aspect of your life, including your health, financial stability, and relationships with your family and friends. In addition, abuse quickly leads to the development of crystal meth dependence, and soon after to crystal meth addiction.

Much of the physical and psychological health harm the drug leaves behind is irreversible. Moreover, many of its effects can be deadly. Here is a list of adverse side effects of crystal meth abuse:

  • brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s disease
  • cardiac problems
  • chronic bronchitis
  • damaged blood vessels in the heart and brain
  • depression
  • destruction of the nasal tissue
  • high blood pressure
  • infectious diseases and abscesses
  • liver and kidney damage
  • psychosis
  • respiratory problems and lung damage
  • severe tooth decay

The adverse effects of crystal meth abuse vary from person to person, depending on body mass, route of administration, and dosage. In some cases, crystal meth abuse can lead to coma, seizures, heart attack, stroke or death.

Abusing crystal meth? Help!

If you are aware of your crystal meth abuse problem and want to get better – you are already on the right track. Drug abuse can be addressed medically and responds well to treatment.

What works to help you recover from crystal meth abuse depends on your unique needs and goals…but there are a few basic steps that ensure you get the best help for your needs and make a safe, steady, but successful transition from crystal meth abuse to recovery.

1. Evaluation and assessment of the problem. This process happens includes an interview, physical and psychological examinations, and possibly a drug test to check for any other drugs or alcohol present in the system. The data collected is then used to determine the level of care and treatment program details.

2. Medical detox from crystal meth. The primary focus of crystal meth detox is to stabilize your acute medical and psychiatric condition, ensure your safety, and to set you up for ongoing treatment. Medical detox can help you manage the symptoms of acute withdrawal from crystal meth in a controlled environment that minimizes any possible risks.

3. Therapy and counseling. During this stage of treatment, you will undergo crystal meth addiction therapies to uncover and address the root causes of your addiction and learn new behaviors that don’t involve crystal meth abuse. Therapies may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • The matrix model
  • Contingency management interventions
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Any medication, such as a presription antidepressant, is often combined with behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, counseling, and other supportive therapies and services to increase your likelihood of walking out of rehab with healthy habits and a sober lifestyle.

4. Crystal meth aftercare. Professional help for crystal meth will continue even after you complete a recovery program. Aftercare and relapse prevention can extend into the moths and years after you leave rehab and have been proven successful at increasing chances of long-term sobriety.

Your questions

Still have questions regarding crystal meth abuse? You can explore our related articles covering the subject. We invite you to share your personal experiences or post your questions and comments in the designated section below. We try to answer all legitimate inquiries with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: Child Welfare Manual: Section 7; Chapter 27: Methamphetamine (“METH”) Use; Clandestine Methamphetamine (“METH”) Use; Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratories; and Guidelines
DEA: Drug Fact Sheet: Methamphetamine
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH): Methamphetamine and Meth Labs; What is Meth?
U.S. Department of Justice: Crystal Methamphetamine
Washington D.C.: The link between Crystal Meth and HIV

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