One of the most pervasive illegal drugs in the country – and indeed, even the world – is methamphetamine. In the United States alone, more than 13 million people age 12 or older have used the drug at least once.
The epidemic is even worse among younger people. According to anti-meth site KCI, up to 78% of all meth users are under the age of 30, with the largest group being between the ages of 18 and 23. Many young people believe that it is a safer alternative to other drugs such as cocaine and they are injecting it along with heroin.
Methamphetamine’s are cheap and readily available here in California, and at one point, San Diego was known as the “Meth Capital” of the United States. We especially have to be concerned about the problem here, simply because of geography. 61% of all methamphetamine seizures worldwide happen in the United States or Mexico. In this case, San Diego/California is exposed to the worst of both worlds.
And it’s growing – in 2010 the United States reported 2754 meth labs. By 2011, that number had quadrupled to 11,116.
What all this means is that methamphetamine’s is a real and present danger to us here. If you think that your loved one might have a problem with drugs, it is very possible that one of those drugs is methamphetamine’s.
If you feel that you have reason to be concerned, let’s answer a few of your questions –
How do I know if someone is on meth?
Being able to recognize the signs of meth use is the first step in being able to help. Obviously, not every user will have all of the same symptoms, but if you notice several of the signs, there may be a problem –
• lack of sleep, sometimes for days
• loss of appetite
• weight loss to the point of appearing gaunt or undernourished
• unusually active, especially if the activity is repetitive or disorganized
• incessant talking
• nervousness or anxiety
• hot or sweaty appearance, even without exertion
• dilated pupils
• increased sexual activity
• hallucinations or paranoia
• poor skin or decaying teeth
• unexplained money problems
• paraphernalia, such as small plastic bags with white powder or residue, syringes, crumpled aluminum foil, glass pipes, or soda cans with a hole in the side
What are some of the dangers of meth?
When used, meth has an immediate effect on the central nervous system, and when used over a long period of time, it can actually cause long-term changes in a person’s brain chemistry.
Physically, methamphetamine’s can kill or seriously harmed a person by stroke, brain damage, heart failure, hypothermia, or convulsions.
Mentally, long-term use of methamphetamine’s can result in serious psychological and psychiatric symptoms that can lead to suicidal or homicidal behavior.
Legally, any issues having to do with methamphetamine’s can have extremely serious consequences, including the possibility of years in prison.
With all of these dangers, why would someone use meth? Why won’t they stop?
For first-time or short-term users, meth is so popular because it is CHEAP and it is EASY TO GET.
For chronic users, meth is one of the hardest drugs to overcome. The initial acute withdrawal symptoms are over fairly quickly, but the “wall” period of strong psychological cravings can last 2-3 years.
Besides physical abstinence, most meth users find that their sobriety also depends on shifting their entire lifestyle – changing up their daily routine, cutting ties with old drug buddies, or even relocating.
What can I do to help?
If someone you love is on meth, you are probably tired – tired of being manipulated, tired of being lied to, tired of broken promises, and tired of your life being disrupted.
The first thing you must realize that you are not alone. There are support groups that will show you how to have hope and serenity by taking care of yourself before you start trying to take care of someone else.
Then, gather as much information as you can. You are here, doing that. Good job.
Next, seek professional help. Meth addiction is deceptive, cunning, and ruthlessly selfish. To maximize your chances, you want someone who is qualified to help your loved one heal as a whole person, not just an addict.
Be realistic. Overcoming any drug is hard. It will be frustrating, it will be stressful, and there will be tears. It will require a huge commitment of time, effort, and money. Success is not assured, and relapses are common.
But at the end of the day, you can find yourself with some precious things that you never thought you would ever have again…HOPE…PEACE OF MIND…and if you are lucky, YOUR LOVED ONE BACK.
For more information, call Lasting Recovery, or visit our website for information.