Methamphetamine, or meth, is considered to be the most potent stimulant available in the United States. The dopamine rush many people get from using it, and the subsequent crash, often leads to addiction and dependency.
Are You Addicted?
If you fear you are developing an addiction to meth, it's likely you're at least abusing the drug and it's having a negative impact on your life. People don't tend to question or seek help when everything is going great.
There are a number of signs to tell when a habit becomes an addiction. Just remember that everyone reacts differently to the drug, so there is no "one size fits all" checklist.
Typical Addiction Signs
Changes in Mood
People who are addicted to meth tend to be happy and productive when using the drug and depressed and anxious when not using it. The body begins to turn to the drug to regulate mood, instead of using normal processes in the brain, so your moods will not necessarily match what is going on in your environment.
Preoccupation With Meth
Addicts begin to think of their drug of choice as one of their basic needs, akin to food and water. Due to consistent cravings, their lives begin to revolve around getting meth, using meth, and recovering from its use. Everything else (work, relationships, school, housing) becomes secondary.
Financial and Legal Problems
Sometimes the addict's need for meth leads to serious financial problems due to job loss, spending copious amounts of money on the drug, or using money recklessly while high. Legal trouble can arise due to stealing to obtain more meth or committing drug-related crimes.
Meth addicts tend to neglect their physical appearance, going days without showering, dressing sloppily and not caring for themselves when sick or injured. Meth also curbs appetite and causes addicts to forget they need to eat, so many lose weight rapidly and suffer from malnutrition. Their hair and teeth may break and fall out as their addiction progresses.
Abnormal Sleep Patterns
Meth fools the brain into thinking the body has unlimited energy, so addicts can stay awake 24 hours a day, sometimes for a week or longer. Eventually, the addict will crash, sleeping for extended periods, perhaps a day or more, when their body becomes exhausted. As tolerance develops and the addict uses more meth or switches from smoking/snorting to injecting, these binge periods get longer or more frequent.
Meth addiction sometimes mimics schizophrenia, with users experiencing hallucinations, delusions and irrational fears. Sometimes, these fears can lead to aggression and violence. If you worry you are being watched or are in danger - even when you can't logically identify a threat - addiction may be the cause.
Many meth addicts have to constantly be doing something, and not just out of boredom. The simply cannot sit still. They take mechanical things apart and put them back together, pace, shake, scratch at their skin, talk nonstop, pull at their hair and exhibit other frantic behaviors.
Skin picking is very common, often leaving scabs on the person's face. Sexual compulsion is also common.
Meth addiction can happen quickly without the user realizing it. Once you're hooked, it is difficult to quit using meth without outside help. If you relate to any of these signs of addiction, or you have any concerns about your use at all, it's important to reach out as soon as possible. Two good places to start are calling the Coalition Against Drug Abuse at 1-800-943-0566 or the Alcohol and Drug Helpline at 1-800-821-4357.