In the 1990s, crystal meth was considered the drug of choice for the young and hip, and parents were encouraged to look for the little shards of the drug in their children’s backpacks and purses. Now, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the drug is becoming more popular among older people, and in 2007, a full 23 percent of people who got treatment for a meth addiction were 40 or older. Statistics like this seem to suggest that almost anyone could be tempted to abuse crystal meth, and as a result, it pays for all families to learn to spot the signs of abuse and addiction. When they see the signs in the people they love, they can step in and provide the appropriate help.
Signs of Intoxication
People who are addicted to crystal meth will, quite obviously, be intoxicated with the drug the vast majority of the time. The changes in personality and behavior impaired people might demonstrate can be intimidating and even a little bit frightening, but they can help families to spot a latent addiction before it has a chance to strengthen and spread.
Intoxication signs tend to include violent, erratic behavior. People may feel as though they’re supremely powerful and immune to all harm, and they may also have an increased activity level. They may stay up for days on end, working or partying, without ever seeming like they need to sleep. During this time period, people may say and do things they would never consider while they’re sober, and if they’re examined, doctors may notice these symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature
Crystal meth can take a significant toll on a person’s physical health. The drug tends to reduce the sensation of hunger, so people with addictions can lose a dramatic amount of weight. The drug also causes people to grind their teeth, while their mouths are producing very little saliva, so the teeth may yellow or blacken. Dentists or doctors may spot these signs upon a physical exam, and they may discuss the concerns with the addicted person or his/her family as a result.
Crystal meth addictions have also been linked to HIV and hepatitis infections, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and these risks stay in place regardless of the method by which the person abuses crystal meth. The personality changes the drugs bring about make risky sex more likely, and as a result, people might develop infections, and those infections might go unnoticed until they’ve been in place for a long period of time. A meth screening might be a good idea for anyone who develops these infections.
People with meth addictions can also develop a tingling sensation underneath the skin, and they may dig at their skin until tiny sores form. The drug also impairs healing, unfortunately, so people with sores like this may not have the ability to knit their wounded skin back together. The sores can deepen and spread, and this might make the addiction all too clear to the family.
What to Do
When a crystal meth addiction is suspected, it can be hard for the family to know what to do to help. In most cases, it’s best to consult with a professional. An interventionist or a therapist can help the family learn what to say, and these professionals can help families to find a treatment program that can help. At The Oaks at La Paloma, we work with several different interventionists, and we’re happy to outline our treatment program to family members with questions. Please call us to find out more.