What Is Meth? What Are The Signs Of Meth Addiction? How Do You Quit Meth?

What Is Meth? What Are The Signs Of Meth Addiction? How Do You Quit Meth?

How did methamphetamine abuse and meth addiction become well known to the public?

What is meth? Simply, meth is the potent stimulant drug, methamphetamine. The drug was first synthesized in the late 19th century, and it was used regularly by military leaders throughout the early 20th century to keep troops awake and alert.

Meth is known by many names on the streets. Some of the more commonly known names include crank, crystal, crystal meth, ice, speed, and even biker coffee.

There has long been an association of meth and other amphetamines with biker gangs. In fact, the drug crank, which is a synthetic stimulant, methcathinone, is named because it was regularly smuggled in the crank cases of motorcycles by bikers.

There was a time when meth was a mystery to most people. Even in the 1990s, meth was spreading quickly across the Midwest and West Coast.

Places where cocaine was not easily accessible were perfect for meth to take a foothold. While people on the streets in South Florida were smoking crack cocaine, residents of small midwestern towns were smoking, snorting, or simply swallowing methamphetamine, or its close cousin, methcathinone (crank).

The public’s impression of meth was that it was a scary drug that made people crazy and turned entire towns into the zombie apocalypse. We imagined emaciated people with dark circles under their yes, rotted and missing teeth, and scabbed, infected skin, walking aimlessly through the streets, randomly exhibiting violent behavior.

Meth is sold by street drug dealers from either small toxic labs in found in motel rooms, homes, and mobile homes, or superlabs run by the cartels. It is sold in the form of rocks, powder, crystal, and even pressed tablets.

One additional danger now, when purchasing meth on the streets, is that it may contain the deadly opioid, fentanyl. Fentanyl is now found in nearly every type of streed drug, including crystal meth. There have been recent reports of meth users overdosing on fentanyl without realizing that they were ingesting the toxic, highly potent synthetic opioid.

Romancing meth on television.

In 2008, a television show began, named “Breaking Bad.” Breaking Bad ran for 5 seasons, and captured its audience’s imagination with an exciting portrayal of what it is like to make pure methamphetamine and sell it to drug dealers and cartel leaders.

Bryan Cranston starred as Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who needed money for his family, so he decided to go into the meth lab business. Walt White prided himself on making the best, most pure meth, which was represented in the show as a blue crystalline substance.

During much of the show, Walter, and his partner in crime, Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, were hiding from Walter’s brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, played by Dean Norris, who happened to be an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The TV show followed Walt and Jesse in their adventures, from making meth in a run down RV, to using termite tenting as a cover, to gaining access to super labs, funded by the cartels. We feel the excitement as the expert meth makers meet top drug kingpin, Gus Fring, played by Giancarlo Esposito, at his restaurant, Los Pollos Hermanos.

One aspect of meth that was never featured in Breaking Bad was the tragic nature of meth addiction and meth use. Not everyone who uses meth has meth mouth and skin sores, or other signs of meth abuse, at least not in the beginning, but the drug quickly takes hold on the mind of its user, making it extremely difficult to quit.

Hopefully, there has not been an increase in meth use due to shows such as Breaking Bad. It would be unfortunate to have a rise in methamphetamine use due to a tv show, and its casual treatment of a dangerous and deadly drug.

A more realistic show about methamphetamine addiction.

In 2018, a film was released on Amazon Prime named, “Beautiful Boy,” named after the famous song by John Lennon. The movie was about a father, David Sheff, played by Steve Carell, and his addict son, Nic Sheff, played by Timothée Chalamet.

Beautiful Boy is about a boy who becomes a meth user, and then attempts to quit with the help of his father, and the help of multiple doctors and rehab programs. One scene that stood out to me was a consultation with a meth addiction specialist who looked at lab reports and a brain scan to determin if Nic was too far along in his meth addiction to be able to recover.

Is it possible that meth can cause permanent brain damage, in the gray matter, in such a way that a person can never feel normal again without using meth? I have read about changes in the central nervous system where the microscopic sacs in neurons that hold neurotransmitters for release can be damaged and become leaky.

However, in my experience in treating addiction and seeing people recover and stay drug-free for many years, I am fairly certain that no one who is still alive is beyond being able to recover from meth addiction. While it may take time to overcome the long term effects of meth and meth withdrawal, recovery is definitely possible.

What are meth mites and where do they come from?

Imagine being a meth user, being excited about getting started on the weekend with a fresh supply of crystal meth or crank. The dealer delivers the drug in small baggies or folded up in a piece of paper.

Homemade drugs, such as meth, are typically cheap. Meth labs do not function like Walter White’s fancy, high tech labs. Clandestine meth labs are often kitchens in trailer homes, where making meth is a dangerous activity.

Meth also happens to be a very long-acting drug. Unlike smoking crack, which only lasts for minutes per dose, methamphetamine can last for hours.

Meth abusers do not intend to go on drug runs for days at a time when they first start using, but it often turns out that way. If you are a meth user, smoking your first dose from a glass pipe, or off of a piece of foil, chasing the dragon, you will initially experience an intense euphoric high.

Yet, after hours and hours of repeated use, and the build up of the effects of the drugs, eventually, your central nervous system will become burnt out from the nonstop stimulation. Euphoria turns into side effects and meth symptoms, which can mimic various forms of psychosis.

One of the common side effects is the sensation of meth bugs, or ice mites, crawling all over, or under, the skin of the user. The sensation of these persistant crank bugs is known as formication, which is a word related to ant-like behavior.

Of course, there are no meth mites crawling under the skin. However, the meth user who has been snorting lines of meth, smoking, or even mixing meth powder with water or juice, and drinking it, will eventually start to have paranoia mixed with strange sensations.

They may start to believe that people around them are robots, or that the trees and leaves are made of metal, or that there is a concerted effort by secret police and high level law enforcement to take them down, using unmarked cars, helicoptors, and even insect and animal spies. The paranoia associated with meth, similar to cocaine paranoia, often leads the user to hide in a dark room, door locked, peaking with terror through the blinds to see who is coming.

Is it possible to have a heart attack or heart failure due to meth use?

Can you overdose on meth? Smoking meth and snorting meth lead to typical short term effects of stimulants, including high blood pressure and increased heart rate. It is possible for meth to cause serious damage to the heart, though this is more likely for older meth users or those with underlying health problems.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a recovering meth addict to relapse later in life, not realizing that their heart can no longer handle the strain that it could when they were younger. A meth user in their 20s or 30s may handle excessive strain on blood vessels and on the heart, but when they return to using the drug in their 40s, 50s, or 60s, they may have a heart attack or stroke.

The great science fiction author, Philip K. Dick, known for many famous stories used in blockbuster movies, such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report, was addicted to amphetamines throughout his life, with many relapses. He died at age 53, due to a heart attack and stroke. It is likely that his death was due to the excessive strain on his vascular system from ongoing amphetamine use.

One issue with this stimulant drug is the fact that it lasts for so long, yet the initial intense effects wear off after a short time. Users might want to recreate that initial rush by using meth over and over, even though it is building up in their system.

Because they are high, and unaware of the seriousness of their racing heart, they keep going, until something goes wrong. Meth overdose symptoms can include high blood pressure, sweating, dry mouth, dehydration, mood swings, paranoia, and unusual neurological deficits.

Meth overdose symptoms can mimic mental health problems and serious mental illness. When a person is recovering from meth addiction, mental health issues will often resolve spontaneously, because they were actually drug side effects.

What are some signs of meth abuse and signs of meth addiction to look for?

If you are concerned about a loved one who might be using methamphetamine, there are some signs to look for. Meth talk is when the meth user speaks very quickly, rarely taking a break, also known as speed talk. A stimulant drug, such as meth, will cause the user to have grandiose ideas and a sense of power. They may also talk about how everyone in the room is looking at them, a mix of a feeling of power and also paranoia.

Weight loss is another typical early sign of meth abuse. If you notice that your loved one seems to be often disheveled, and appears to be both wired and tired at the same time, and they are losing weight quickly, you may want to look beyond their excuses of drinking too much coffee, being stressed at work, or being on a special crash diet to lose weight.

One major difference in meth addiction vs crack addiction is that the crack user will always be looking for money, because crack is very short lasting, so the crack addict has to continually look for sources of money to buy more crack. The meth user, on the other hand, will often not be as money hungry, because the drug is cheap and long lasting.

How much is meth? The price has been recently quoted as being around $20 to $30 for a quarter gram on the streets, but prices change from one region to another, and tend to go up over time.

However, meth and crank, still cost money, and you may want to be on the lookout for a loved one who is selling their belongings or stealing small amounts of money from friends or family members, or asking to borrow money regularly. While modern harm reduction proponents recommend keeping drug using loved ones at home, if possible, it can be difficult when you are concerned about theft of money and valuables.

By the time a meth user exhibits gum disease and bad teeth, known as meth mouth, you will likely already know that there is a problem. Meth mouth is likely due to a side effect of the drug, dry mouth, which promotes dental problems, such as cavities.

Another issue that leads to bad teeth is simply poor hygiene. A meth user will also suffer from intense insomnia, sometimes staying awake for days, and even weeks. Most people shower in the morning or evening, and brush their teeth upon waking up and before bedtime.

Imagine if your day lasted for weeks? What if you woke up one day and then didn’t go to bed for two weeks? Meth users tend not to shower or brush their teeth very often.

Is adderall a form of meth?

Regarding meth vs adderall, these drugs are both different, yet closely related. Adderall is a prescription drug, intended to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a condition where a person is unable to stay awake throughout the day.

Adderall is also a highly controlled drug, because it has a high abuse potential. People who like to get high on drugs can get high with adderall snorting, which gives a similar high to cocaine or meth.

Adderall is made of several different types of amphetamine. The major difference of methamphetamine vs amphetamine is the ability of the drugs to cross the blood brain barrier.

Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are drugs that are also closely related to meth and amphetamines. Ephedrine used to be used for energy, similarly to caffeine, but is no longer available. pseudoephedrine, sold as Sudafed, is a cold medicine that is an effective decongestant.

These over the counter, non-prescription drugs do not get people high, because they cannot cross the blood brain barrier significantly. Amphetamines, such as adderall, cross the blood brain barrier effectively, yet methamphetamine crosses even more readily.

Why is it that ephedrine was taken off the market and Sudafed is locked behind pharmacy counters? These seemingly harmless drugs can be used in the manufacture of meth. Using basic chemistry in a home lab, meth makers would scrape the red coating off of Sudafed tablets so they could crush up the drug and use to make meth.

Now you know why OTC drugs that can be abused, such as Robatussin, are sold on the shelves, but a drug that doesn’t get people high, Sudafed, is securely locked up, with special procedures for selling at the pharmacy counter. Law enforcement is more concerned about meth labs than individual drug addicts getting high.

Why do the police hate meth labs so much?

Aside from the fact that meth labs make an illegal drug, there are othe reasons why the cops hate crystal methamphetamine labs where kitchen chemists cook meth, using boxes of Sudafed and dangerous chemicals, such as ether.

Other dangerous, toxic chemicals are also used which carry additional risk of poisoning, fire, explosion, and cancer. These chemicals include drain cleaner, battery acid, paint thinner, lithium from lithium ion batteries, red phosphorus, iodine crystals, acetone, Freon, anydrous ammonia, and others.

Meth labs are dangerous, toxic places. When the poice have to clean up a lab, they are exposed to deadly, toxic chemicals. It is also possible for the volitile chemicals used in making meth to lead to an explosion.

Innocent children can be affected by a nextdoor meth lab, due to toxic chemicals, vented into the air, and the risk of fire and explosion. Regardless of your view of the legalization or decriminalization of drugs, you most likely agree that small meth labs should be shut down and prevented from starting in the first place.

What does meth smell like? When a meth user learns how to smoke from a pipe, often made from a light bulb, or purchased at a paraphanelia shop, they note that meth has a strong chemical smell, reminiscent of gasoline or motor oil.

Smoking crank or meth gives the user insight into the toxic makup of whatever dirty street concoction they are using. Learning how to do meth, using a crystal smoking pipe, the meth addict has little interest in what harm they may be doing to their lungs, hearts, liver, and other organs. A serious health problem is the last thing on their mind.

Is there a legal form of methamphetamine?

In fact, there is, or was, a legal meth pill available. I am not certain if it is still manufactured and legal in the US, or if it is available in other countries currently. Even if it is still prescribed in the US, it would be rare for doctors to issue a prescription for this drug.

The prescription version of meth is known as Desoxyn for weight loss, when all other treatments have been tried and failed. Desoxyn tablets contain pure, pharmaceutical grade methamphetamine.

In the Desoxyn prescribing information, there are prominent warnings about the addictive nature of the drug and the high abuse potential. Drug users looking for high quality methamphetamine may try to obtain a Desoxyn prescription online from the dark web, though these sources are far more expensive than the typical street meth.

Otherwise, there are many amphetamine-like prescription drugs available for ADD and ADHD, such as Vyvanse, Concerta, Ritalin, and others that are actual amphetamines, such as Dexedrine, Adderall, and Adderall XR.

For patients who cannot tolerate these addictive stimulant drugs, but have ADHD, there are non-stimulant drugs, such as Strattera, which may be effective. A patient who has a history of meth addiction should not be prescribed amphetamines or similar drugs.

Is overcoming Adderall addiction and overcoming meth addiction possible?

Stimulant addiction in general is a difficult problem for addiction specialists. Meth addiction treatment has lagged behind medication assisted treatment programs for drugs such as opioids and alcohol.

For alcohol, we have naltrexone, and for opioids, we have buprenorphine. While various medications have been tried for meth addiction treatment, there is no currently accepted standard addiction treatment for methamphetamine users.

One drug that has been tried is bupropion, which is the ingredient in medications such as Welbutrin and Zyban. Bupropion works by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine. In a sense, it works similarly to meth, but in a slower, more controlled fashion.

With prescribed use of bupropion, there is no high or abuse potential of the drug. Yet, I have heard of it being called “the poor man’s cocaine” and that users can scrape off the coating, crush the tablets, and snort the drug. I do not know if there is any truth to this, and of course, it would be a highly dangerous misuse of the drug.

Addiction treatment for meth has mostly consisted of abstinence-based programs, such as residential inpatient rehab and group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Crystal meth addiction is mostly treated with peer support and therapy. There are also digital tools, such as prescription digital therapeutics  that doctors can prescribe and meth addicted patients can use for treatment on their own smart phones.

Amphetamine detox programs may treat patients briefly with sedatives, such as a benzodiazepine, but are mostly supportive, keeping the patient away from access to the drug, preventing substance abuse, and providing therapy and support. The goal is to get the patient past the withdrawal symptoms and through meth withdrawal to a state where they can discuss the underlaying issues that led them to drug abuse and drug addiction.

What is meth addiction treatment going to look like in the future?

On my podcast, I interviewed Dr. Michael S. Miller about his work in researching a novel approach to medication assisted treatment for meth addiction. One of the most difficult crystal meth symptoms to overcome is the intense cravings associated with discontinuing meth use.

Dr. Miller claims to have several treatments that can quickly help the meth user to have fewer cravings within a period of several days. By reducing cravings, the meth addict is able to focus more on recovery and getting away from the meth lifestyle.

For more information, I recommend looking up this podcast episode and listening to the entire episode for specific information on Dr. Miller’s treatments and how he diagnoses different types of meth addiction. He goes into detail on which medications are used, depending on the diagnosis.

Dr. Miller has submitted his research to the local medical school where he practices in Indianapolis, and he is awaiting assistance in publishing his data. He believes that his program can have at least an 80% success rate.

The medications used in his program are readily available prescription drugs that any doctor can prescribe. It is exciting to see that there is hope that medication assisted treatment may be available to help meth users put down the crystal meth pipe and move forward with their lives, finally overcoming methamphetamine addiction.