Crystal Meth Addiction
Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine, an extremely addictive substance that produces feelings of intense euphoria and pleasure.
Also known as glass, ice or shards, crystal meth is commonly ingested by snorting, smoking or injecting the substance into the body. These names reference the appearance of this drug, as it often resembles glass crystals – however despite this seemingly innocent association, crystal meth can be deadly.
Unlike many other illegal drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine is not derived from a natural source and is instead synthetically produced within illegal drug laboratories by combining other stimulants with various over-the-counter medications.
Crystal meth is so powerfully addictive that it is thought to be possible to become dependent on this substance after a single-use.
Why is crystal meth so addictive?
The ingestion of crystal meth encourages the brain to release extremely large amounts of dopamine, with the brain unable to naturally release such large amounts without a secondary trigger such as crystal meth. This can damage the receptors in the brain, making it difficult or even impossible to experience the feeling of pleasure without the use of this substance. 
Another factor in the addictive nature of crystal meth is that a large amount of this drug enters the brain in comparison to other substances, causing intense bursts of pleasure and euphoria that can linger for long periods of time. 
These effects can result in habitual and compulsive use as individuals attempt to experience these euphoric feelings time and time again despite the negative effects.
Crystal meth sentencing – the laws
Classified in the UK as a Class A illegal substance, the possession of crystal meth carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. 
If you are found guilty of supply and production, this sentence can be increased to up to life in prison.
Sentences can vary according to the amount of crystal meth found, your intention with the substance (whether you intend to use, sell or produce it) and your criminal history.
The use of methamphetamine in a pharmaceutical setting was banned in the UK back in 1968, and in 2006 it was moved from a Class B drug to a Class A. There is no legal reason to possess crystal meth in the UK and this substance has no proven health benefits.
Who is more likely to develop a crystal meth addiction?
As one of the most physically addictive substances available, crystal meth does not discriminate when it comes to addiction. Anyone, no matter their background, mental health and past experiences, can quickly develop a dependency on this drug.
However, there are a number of factors that increase the risk of developing an addiction to crystal meth. Many of these factors merely increase the likelihood of being exposed to this substance and therefore the chance of experimenting with it, while others are more ingrained and raise the risk of becoming addicted.
Factors that increase the likelihood of developing an addiction to crystal meth include:
- A family history of addiction and/or mental health issues
- Neglect or abuse during childhood
- Exposure to drugs and/or alcohol from an early age
- Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder
- Spending time with people who use drugs and/or alcohol
- A life-changing injury or illness
It’s possible to avoid developing an addiction to crystal meth even if you can relate to some or even all of the above risk factors. Simply deciding against experimenting with crystal meth may not be enough, as you are still at risk of developing an alternate substance or behavioural addiction, and it is recommended that you speak to your doctor who will be able to advise you on the best strategies for avoiding addiction.
What are the signs and symptoms of a crystal meth addiction?
The physical symptoms of a crystal meth addiction are often portrayed in popular culture and the media, with users of this substance shown with multiples scabs and abscesses along with missing teeth and sunken cheeks.
While these can be signs of a crystal meth addiction, there are also a number of psychological and behavioural symptoms that may become apparent when an individual is in the depths of an addiction to crystal meth. These can often manifest before the obvious physical symptoms, so it is crucial to be aware of the early warning signs and seek help before the addiction become unmanageable.
Physical signs of a crystal meth addiction include:
- Lack of appetite
- High body temperature
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive perspiration
- Body tremors and facial tics
- Dilated pupils
- Compulsive skin picking
- Scabs and sores on the skin
- Sleeping less often
- Exhaustion and fatigue
Psychological signs of a crystal meth addiction include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Mood swings
Behavioural signs of a crystal meth addiction include:
- Erratic and aggressive behaviour
- Manic behaviour, appearing overexcited and hyperactive
- Extreme irritability
- Stealing or borrowing money
- Poor performance at work or school
- Neglecting responsibilities at home
If you’re concerned that you or someone you care about is dealing with a crystal meth addiction, our team at OK Rehab are here to help.
Many of us have experienced similar situations and know how overwhelming and intimidating it can feel to reach out for support. Give us a call today to discuss your options with a friendly, non-judgemental professional and plan your first steps towards recovery.
What are the long-term effects of a crystal meth addiction?
The continued use of a highly addictive and damaging substance such as crystal meth can result in a number of long-term effects that can be severely detrimental to your physical and mental health. However, it is never too late to change your behaviour and reverse many of the long-term effects that come with a crystal meth addiction.
Long-term effects of a crystal meth addiction include:
- Damage to blood vessels of the heart and brain
- Increased blood pressure
- Higher risk of cardiovascular disease
- Dental problems including extreme tooth decay
- Brain damage
- Abscesses, higher risk of infection
- Damage to nose tissue
- Liver and kidney damage
- Respiratory problems
- Legal and financial problems
- Strained relationships with friends, family and colleagues
Recovery and withdrawal from a crystal meth addiction
It is possible to recover from even the most severe addiction to crystal meth with the help of trained professionals, a personalised recovery plan and an expert rehabilitation centre or treatment programme.
Many people attempting to recover from a crystal meth addiction may benefit from inpatient treatment within a specialised rehabilitation centre. This is particularly effective in cases of severe addiction as well as individuals dealing with a co-occurring disorder such as a secondary addiction or mental health issue.
Long-term recovery from a crystal meth addiction stems from the individual’s innate desire and need to change, effective detoxification management, treating the psychological aspect of the addiction and implementing an aftercare plan that can be followed once the treatment is complete.
It is recommended to detox from crystal meth under the care of a medical professional within a professional rehabilitation centre. It is possible to detox from crystal meth as an outpatient, but this should be discussed with a medical professional as careful monitoring must still be implemented to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
The process of detoxification involves removing all traces of the substance from the body – in short, the individual must completely stop using crystal meth. This can result in a number of withdrawal symptoms as the body attempts to rebalance and learn how to function without the prescience of this substance. 
Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Extreme fatigue and tiredness
- Sleep disturbances including nightmares
- Intense cravings for crystal meth
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleeping for long periods of time
- Low libido and decreased sexual pleasure
- Feelings of hunger
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling confused and disoriented
For many people, the psychological aspect of treatment can be more challenging than physical detoxification. Working with a trained therapist, individuals will attempt to uncover their deep-rooted beliefs and mindsets that may have influenced their behaviour and resulted in addiction. This may involve techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy and group therapy, or a combination of multiple treatments.
Addiction counselling can be an emotionally charged, uncomfortable and difficult experience. However, the benefits gained from exploring your inner self in such a way can continue to benefit you for the remainder of your life.
Once the treatment programme is complete, the individual can begin to reintegrate themselves into society. This can be a challenging time as they attempt to navigate situations and emotions that they may have previously avoided with the help of crystal meth.
An aftercare plan involves strategies and techniques that can be used to deal with triggering situations and cope with uncomfortable experiences and emotions in a healthy way. This can involve regular NA meetings and ongoing counselling as well as practical tips on dealing with cravings and triggers.