Crystal Meth Abuse


Drug Abuse .com writes

Crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) is a powerful central nervous stimulant with highly addictive properties.

Crystal meth is the illicit, crystalline form of methamphetamine. Legally manufactured methamphetamineis classified as a Schedule II drug by the United States Controlled Substances Act, meaning:

  • It has a high potential for abuse.
  • It has a currently accepted medical use.
  • Abuse of it may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Pharmaceutical methamphetamine is used in medications that treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and, infrequently, in cases of severe obesity.

The crystal form of methamphetamine – the street drug crystal meth – has no medical applications, and is exclusively abused as a recreational substance.

Signs and Symptoms

Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant. No matter what route of administration is used—injected, smoked or inhaled—an individual will experience a rapid onset of its effects.

When under the influence of meth, a person may present with any number of symptoms:

  • Increased physical activity.
  • Increased blood pressure and breathing rate.
  • Elevated body temperature.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Heavy sweating.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Paranoia or irritability.
  • Fleeting euphoria.
  • Unpredictable behavior.
  • Doing repetitive, meaningless tasks.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
  • Tremors.
  • Dry mouth, bad breath.
  • Headache.
  • Uncontrollable jaw clenching.

Some other troubling signs of methamphetamine abuse include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • Violent behavior.
  • Seizures.
  • Respiratory or airway abnormalities.
  • Persistently elevated heart rate, placing users at risk forheart attack.


The following video from National Geographic discusses what exactly happens in your brain when you smoke crystal meth and why it is so addictive.

Credit: National Geographic

Am I Addicted to Crystal Meth?

If you’re concerned that you may have a problem, there’s a high likelihood that you already do. However, you can take our assessment to help determine whether you are facing an addiction to crystal meth and what the severity of your addiction may be.

Effects of Crystal Meth Abuse

The effects of crystal meth in recreational doses are powerful, and can lead to psychological and physical addiction.

Crystal Meth Abuse Treatment

Treatment for methamphetamine abuse may take on multiple forms, depending on the individual’s needs. The first phase of treatment, detoxification, may proceed more smoothly with careful monitoring by an experienced medical staff. Withdrawal from crystal meth can be profoundly uncomfortable, and can sometimes elicit depressive episodes—relapse risks are high during the period of acute detox.

Acute symptoms of abuse are often treated with medications to alleviate the discomfort of side effects and withdrawal:

  • Hyperactivity, agitation or psychotic features—If needed, may be treated with a dopamine-blocking medication, such as haloperidol–an antipsychotic that decreases abnormal excitement in the brain.
  • Other behavioral and psychiatric effects—Benzodiazepine drugs such as diazepam (Valium) may be used to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures.

Crystal meth dependence and addiction can often prove difficult to manage, due to high rates of dropout and relapse, severe craving, protracted mental health issues (including depression and psychosis), and the inability of some users to experience pleasure in the absence of the drug.

Currently, there is no widely accepted model for crystal meth abuse treatment. In the past, antidepressants were utilized, but this treatment was not found to be especially effective in the long run.

Modern treatment programs use various forms of counseling or therapy to address the issues surrounding abuse and dependence. Therapies that have been found to be effective are:

  • Contingency ManagementUses positive reinforcement to keep patients abstinent, leading to longer periods of drug abstinence.
  • Cognitive Behavioral TherapyExamines the role of substance abuse in a patient’s life and develops skills to avoid relapse; includes the Matrix Model approach.
  • The Matrix ModelIncorporates cognitive-behavioral therapy, addiction education, relapse prevention education, 12-step or self-help programs, and weekly urine tests to assure abstinence. This method has been found to be very effective during treatment.
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