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Meth Addiction Behavior to Watch For in Friends and Loved Ones


Methamphetamine, or meth as it is commonly called, is a commonly abused stimulant that is responsible for some of the most destructive and violent cycles of addiction and chemical dependency within the United States. Understanding meth addiction facts and behavior requires gaining insights into how meth interacts with the body of the addict, both physiologically and psychologically, leading to a destructive lifestyle that is characterized by pain, violence, and an overpowering chemical dependency.  

In this article, we’ll break down how an addiction to meth causes changes in the addict’s behavior, moods, and interactions with others. We’ll look at how meth addiction fundamentally changes the way a person views others and the world around them, and discuss how the physiological interaction between meth and the body results in these changes. Understanding this will give valuable insights to those close to an addict; loved one’s, family members, spouses, and coworkers can all benefit from understanding the behavioral signs of meth addiction.   

By having a better understanding of how meth addiction behavior appears and is formed, those closest to an addict will be equipped to more quickly recognize the signs of addiction to meth and encourage their loved one to seek intervention by medical professionals.

What is Meth and How Does It Work?

Meth is a more powerful form of the stimulant amphetamine, which has a long history of use around the world. Amphetamine was first created in Germany towards the end of the 19th century. A more potent, crystalline form of amphetamine, known as methamphetamine, was first created in Japan in the early 20th century.  Prior to its history of abuse, meth saw a surge of use during World War II, when it was given to troops on both sides of the conflict to help stave off fatigue on long missions, or when a heightened state of alertness over a long period of time was critical to mission success.  

Following the war, meth began to be used both licitly, as a weight loss aid, and illicitly as a substance of abuse.  Regulatory changes took effect in the United States during the 1970’s, as the abuse of the drug was beginning to become widespread.  Meth was classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning that it is illegal, but may be used medically under very limited circumstances.  In the modern United States, meth is only rarely utilized by medical professionals to induce rapid weight loss in severely overweight people, or to treat some forms of psychiatric disorders.

Meth is a crystalline substance that has seen a surge of illicit use since it was classified as a Schedule II drug.  There are a number of reasons for its popularity.  First, meth is relatively easy to manufacture, requiring easy to obtain equipment.  Manufacturing meth has changed over time, with modern methods using a variety of caustic and dangerous chemicals to aid in the production process.  

Because meth is a fairly easy and cheap drug to produce, it is very cheap to purchase.  At the same time, it is an incredibly powerful stimulant that produces a high quickly but also lasts for a long period of time.  While meth has predominantly ravaged poor and rural communities within the United States, abuse of meth is not limited to one area or demographic of people.  Rather, meth addiction is widespread and prevalent among people from all areas of the United States and from every different socioeconomic background.

Meth functions by interacting quickly and strongly with the pleasure sensors in the brain. Meth can be taken in a variety of ways, but it is most commonly smoked by regular users of the drug.  Once taken, meth interacts with the body to produce a surge of dopamine, the drug responsible for eliciting feelings of pleasure. Users of meth describe an intense feeling of euphoria that lasts up to 12 hours, depending on the modality of use.  The intense, long-lasting high combined with the low cost and widespread availability of meth have made it one of the most abused drugs in the United States and around the world.  

Meth and Behavior

One of the first ways that meth affects behavior is through the creation of a strong chemical dependency. By taking meth, users experience a surge of euphoric feeling that lasts for a long period of time. For many users, this is the most intensely euphoric they have ever felt, resulting in a strong desire to repeat the experience. The stimulant effects of meth also create a profound level of energy, which in some users manifests as an ability to focus and complete tasks untiringly over a long period of time.  

Regardless of the exact reasons that many users choose to repeat their experience of doing meth, the repetition of the process creates a powerful chemical dependency.  This dependency results in a cycle where users take meth for an extended period of time, living in a high-energy euphoric state for hours before they begin to experience meth comedown symptoms.

After this point, in order to stave off the extremely unpleasant after-effects of the drug, users will often take more meth to continue their high. This cycle continues until the body can no longer stay awake, which can sometimes take days of continued meth use. At this point, users experience a dramatic crash characterized by a deep level of fatigue and an inability to do anything other than sleep. Often, users will also experience powerful symptoms of withdrawal at this point, further pushing them to consume more of the drug. Once a user is in the thrall of chemical dependency and the cycle of meth addiction, signs of meth addiction behavior will begin to become more readily apparent to those around them. Up until a certain point in the cycle, addicts can often hide their drug abuse with relative success.  

However, because meth is such a powerful drug, this period of being able to hide their use and abuse of meth is short lived. Family members and loved ones should be mindful of the behavioral signs of meth addiction we will discuss in subsequent paragraphs. By recognizing the signs and taking action, family members and loved ones can often intervene with the addict in their life to encourage them to seek help with a qualified medical professional before the drug has caused any more harm.

One of the most obvious traits of meth addiction behavior is a heightened state of energy.  Users will exhibit signs of an excessive amount of energy that can manifest in a number of different ways.  Users will often speak very quickly, talking excessively while not completing a full train of thought.  Users will also be restless, both physical and mentally, causing them to constantly be moving or seeking out something to do.  

Often, the use of meth results in compulsive behaviors being acted out repeatedly over time.  How this appears is often unique to the individual, but can include compulsively smoking, cleaning, or working on a task for long periods of time.  

At the same time that a meth user is exhibiting signs of excessive energy, they will also display a lack of desire for food.  Many users of meth have a period of rapid, unexplained, weight loss that coincides with their low appetite for food.  If you notice someone close to you displaying a lack of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and extremely high energy levels, these are generally a sign that they may be abusing meth.

In conjunction with excessive energy, meth addiction behavior is also characterized by erratic mood swings.  Many users report powerful feelings of nervousness and anxiousness.  These are caused by the stimulant properties of meth, and can also be exacerbated by the other chemicals that meth is manufactured with.  

At times, the attitude and temperament of those exhibiting signs of meth addiction behavior will seem to swing wildly between euphoric and energetic to angry or morose.  Often this depends on if a user has recently taken meth, or if they are coming down and withdrawal symptoms are setting in.  The mood swings characterized by meth addiction behavior are not limited to euphoria and a state of depression.  

Unfortunately, a sad reality of meth addiction behavior is a propensity towards violence in many long-term users.  The onset of violent behavior in someone addicted to meth can seem sudden and unprovoked in those around them.  Often, there is little apparent reason why a situation might be met with anger or violence.  This volatile and unpredictable behavior will also frequently lead to arrest for those that are addicted to meth.

A propensity towards violent outbursts or volatility are not limited to social interactions for those suffering from meth addiction. Maintaining a meth addiction over a period of time will frequently lead the loss of a job or source of legitimate income.  In order to continue their illicit drug addiction, meth addicts will often resort to illegal means to procure money.   

Theft, muggings, and other forms of violent criminal acts where a meth addict seeks to deprive another person of their belongings are sadly commonplace for those that are addicted to meth.  While this is not always the case, many communities that are afflicted by high rates of meth addiction are also plagued by violent crime. For the meth user, continuing to use meth and maintaining their addict are their highest priority.  

Within this framework, criminal acts become permissible to achieve their end goal.  This slippery moral slope is a reality for many of those suffering from meth addiction, and is not always visible for even those closest to the addict. Lastly, one of the most obvious signs of meth addiction behavior is a near total withdrawal from the outside world.  Very rapidly into a meth addiction, users begin to center their entire life on maintaining their addiction.  This has a number of negative consequences that reach nearly all aspects of their life.  

One important sign of meth addiction behavior is the inability of the addict to maintain their current state of employment, or to keep steady employment over a period of time.  Meth addicts will often bounce between short-term jobs.  Their addiction makes it difficult for them to keep a job for an extended period of time, due to the fact that meth use is frequently characterized by periods of binging for days or even weeks, followed by a significant recovery period where the user is hungover and extremely fatigued.  

This pattern makes it difficult to maintain a job that requires the user to show up at a certain time, or requires regular attendance.  Aside from work, many meth users withdraw from family and friends, surrounding themselves instead with others who are addicted to meth.  Sadly, this often leads to children who are abandoned for long lengths of time or left unattended, or families that are broken apart.  The meth addict’s erratic and volatile behavior can also contribute to the destruction of familial ties, with an outburst of violence or anger eroding bonds of trust and love.

For those suffering from an addiction to meth, the strength of their chemical dependency forces a complete subservience to the addiction.  Users will often exhibit a number of behavioral signs of meth addiction that will become increasingly apparent to those around them.  These include a heightened level of energy that manifests in rapid speech, restlessness, and a lack of desire to eat or sleep.  

Alongside this, many meth addicts will have a volatile and unpredictable temper, with bouts of violent behavior commonplace.  Lastly, many family members or those closest to the addict will notice a withdrawal from everyday life as they prioritize maintaining their addiction above all else.  Their loved one may repeatedly lose jobs, miss work, or be absent from family functions or everyday responsibilities as they continue to use meth.  

For those closest to the addict, seeing the destruction in the addict’s life and the lives of those around them that meth abuse is causing can be extremely difficult. It is important to remember that the sooner you can recognize the behavioral signs of meth addiction and encourage your loved one to seek help, the better their chances of a successful recovery will be. Luminance Recovery is a rehab in Orange County that can help you or a loved one overcome the chains of meth addiction. Call us today to learn about our holistic approach to addiction treatment.

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