Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth is a stimulant that creates a brief feeling of euphoria, followed by a crash. Crystal meth abuse has numerous long-term side effects, such as anxiety, depression and seizures. Crystal meth addiction is treatable.

Understanding Crystal Meth Addiction

Crystal meth is the illegal, crystalline form of methamphetamine. It goes by the slang names of “glass,” “crystal,” “quartz,” “blade” and “ice.” It is extremely addictive and is considered a stimulant drug.

Methamphetamine vs Crystal Meth

The drug methamphetamine is used to treat obesity and ADHD and is marketed as Desoxyn. It is a Schedule II drug because of its high potential for addiction. On the other hand, crystal methamphetamine or crystal meth has no accepted use medically and is an illicit drug. It is injected, inhaled or smoked, giving a rapid onset of action.

Crystal Meth Addiction Signs & Symptoms

The individual using crystal meth will have a brief period of euphoria, followed by sleeplessness, headache, irritability, tremors, dry mouth, paranoia and GI symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Typical symptoms of being on crystal meth for the short-term include:

  • Sweating
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased pulse
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased physical activity

Long-term abuse of crystal meth can lead to:

  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Elevated risk for heart attack
  • Propensity toward violence

Crystal meth is similar to other stimulant drugs in that it primarily acts on the neurotransmitter called dopamine which affects the pleasure centers. It also acts on the norepinephrine and serotonin centers in the brain.

This impact on a user’s neurotransmitters leads to increased confidence and sexual performance. Users will feel powerful, productive and energized. However, these effects are short-lived. Crystal meth abuse leads to the sudden onset of depression, psychosis, fatigue, anxiety, confusion and headaches. Additionally, rapid weight loss may occur due to lack of appetite.

Severe but possible negative effects include:

  • Seizures
  • Heart attacks
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Strokes
  • Sudden death

Crystal meth abuse accounts for 13% of all emergency department visits for illicit drug abuse.

Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment

Fortunately, there is treatment for crystal meth abuse. Celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Robert Downey Jr., Marilyn Monroe and many others have successfully undergone treatment for an addiction to the drug.

Treatment starts with drug detoxification, which can be difficult. Benzodiazepines and antipsychotic drugs have been found to be useful for this stage of recovery. Ongoing recovery depends on rehabilitation therapies. Examples of rehabilitation therapies include contingency management (reward therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy and relapse prevention education.

Author:Kent Hoffman
Kent Hoffman

Dr. Kent Hoffman has been practicing medicine for nearly 30 years. He is board-certified to practice addiction medicine and family medicine. Dr. Hoffman gets to know his patients on a first-name basis to provide compassionate and professional health care.

Last modified: 01/14/2019