How to spot crystal meth addiction: recognizing the tell tale signs of Ice use
Crystal meth, also known as ice, is a highly addictive drug that causes such severe damage that early recognition of the tell tale signs of ice use may be the only way to save someone from a life of misery. Ice is a particularly deadly form of the stimulant drug methamphetamine. It produces an intense and immediate high quickly followed by a crash, a combination that causes many users to become addicted after just a few doses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that over 12.3 million Americans age 12 and older have tried meth at least once. Longtime use of ice causes permanent neurological and physical damage, so anyone seeing signs of ice use in a loved one should help them enter a drug addiction treatment program at once.
Tell tale signs of ice use
Crystal meth is so potent that taking even small amounts produces recognizable symptoms. Users experience an initial burst of euphoria that is intense but short-lived. Once the euphoria fades, ice users can become anxious, irritable, and edgy. Some of the tell tale signs of ice use include:
- Increased wakefulness
- Enhanced attention span and alertness
- Decreased appetite
- Hyperthermia (increased temperature )
- Increased respiration
Ice use also creates certain behavioral changes. These changes initially appear while users are high on ice, but they begin to carry over and affect behavior even when users come down from the drug. The behavioral signs of ice use include:
- Violent mood swings
- Suicidal ideation
- Sexual promiscuity
- Erratic or risky behavior
Ice drug effects
Ice is an extremely powerful stimulant that is similar to cocaine, but with certain differences that make it much more deadly. Use of ice releases very high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in motivation, pleasure, and reward. This burst of dopamine creates the intense but short-lived euphoria or “rush” that makes crystal meth so extremely addictive. Unlike cocaine, which is quickly metabolized, a large portion of ice remains unchanged in the body. This creates much higher levels of dopamine to linger in the brain, extending the stimulant effect but also causing much more neurological damage.
The neurological damage causes emotional and cognitive problems that can last for months and years after users quit abusing the drug. Other dangerous ice drug effects include irregular or rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and other cardiovascular problems.
Signs of meth addiction
Over time, the signs of meth addiction become obvious and impossible to conceal. Chronic use of crystal meth often causes addicts to look prematurely aged, so they appear to be decades older than their contemporaries are. The extreme mental disorder that users develop adds to this effect. Some of the obvious signs of meth addiction include:
- Sleeping problems and disturbances
- Violent behavior
- Extreme weight loss
- Skin sores
- Intense itchiness
- Compulsive picking of skin (due to the hallucination that bugs are crawling under the skin)
- Hair loss
- Broken, rotting, and discolored teeth (a condition known as “meth mouth”)
Ice addiction treatment
Ice addiction is difficult to overcome, but it is possible if you find the right drug addiction treatment center. Treatment programs that are based on cognitive, behavioral, or motivational methods have been found to have the greatest success. Ice users who seek treatment before neurological damage has become widespread stand a much better chance for a long term recovery. If you recognize any of the tell tale signs of ice use in someone you know, you should do whatever it takes to get them into an accredited meth addiction treatment center as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.