The descent into crystal meth addiction is swift, dangerous – and far from subtle. Meth is a synthetic drug and one of the most powerful central nervous stimulants out there. The most well-known crystal meth side effects are the severe deterioration of oral and skin health in a matter of only a few short years. These are far from the full extent of the adverse consequences as meth use is accompanied by distinct behavioral side effects as well – although they’re not always as easy to spot. Here are 3 of the most obvious signs that someone is using crystal meths:
Drastic (Unintentional) Weight Loss
Drugs like methamphetamine interfere with the central nervous system, which plays a role in managing gastrointestinal function as well. This interference affects everything from metabolism to bowel function. Another consequence? Decreased appetite. As a result, meth users often lose a lot of weight very quickly without trying. Before it gets to this point, a glaring red flag is if they’re constantly skipping meals or if they never seem to eat.
Scabbed, Pockmarked Skin
Constant scratching is a hallmark of meth use. While this behavior alone could serve as proof that someone uses crystal meth, the results of this scratching are also a telling sign. The initial scratching often results in open sores and eventually scabs on their face, arms, torso, and legs. With continued meth use, the user will continue to scratch those scabs, which can lead to permanent scarring and disfigured skin, along with oozing or infected scratch wounds.
Why does meth cause itching? The reason has to do with physiological reactions to the drug, rather than psychological ones. Meth increases both body temperature and blood flow (typical of central nervous center stimulants), which results in excess sweating. This perspiration removes the skin’s protective outer layer of sebaceous oil, the result of which is described as a sensation that bugs are crawling on under the skin known as formication.
Severe oral health neglect is another classific sign that someone is using crystal meth. This can look like missing, broken, stained, or blacked teeth. The cause of such a drastic deterioration on one’s smile is not simply because addiction might cause someone to put personal hygiene on the back burner (although that certainly does happen).
Stimulants like meth interfere with saliva production, a substance that plays a vital role in maintaining oral health. Saliva helps remove leftover food from chewing, aids in digestion, and protects tooth enamel. A lack thereof can cause a chain of reactions that makes your mouth a breeding ground for rot and decay. A study conducted by the American Dental Association had shocking results where 96% of the participants (all meth users), had tooth decay, and over a third of them were missing 6 or more teeth.
There are other ways that meth can mess up your teeth too. Bruxism is the condition of grinding or clenching teeth. When paired with the repercussion of a lack of saliva, this makes teeth and gums even more perceptible to damage. Additionally, drugs like meth are extremely acidic. This is caused by their chemical makeup as well as the harmful additives meth is often laced with such as battery acid or antifreeze. Acid can make quick work of teeth’s protective enamel, stripping your pearly whites of their last line of defense.
Found Signs That Someone Is Using Crystal Meths? Now What?
Crystal meth is incredibly addictive. If someone displays any of the above signs, odds are they have been using it for an extended period of time. This is worrisome because not just because this spiral of drug use often comes at the cost of their education, jobs, or relationships. Using meth has very real consequences on mental and physical health, both of which could significantly shorten one’s lifespan.
Unfortunately, simply confronting them about their drug use is likely to have little if any results. Crystal meth has a powerful hold on its users due to its high potency and the addiction can be virtually impossible to break without outside help. The first step is to undergo methamphetamine detox. Rehab facilities like ours can assist in this process, providing medical intervention and round-the-clock care to mitigate withdrawal effects. Next is to enroll in treatment. Trained staff can help sever the psychological addiction and help users get their lives back on track.