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Meth Addiction's Silent Rise Since 2020

Methamphetamine addiction, considered a stimulant use disorder, is becoming increasingly common across America. At the same time, it has become more affordable and accessible. Its use has also been steadily rising among patients seeking treatment for opioid use disorder, with a 3-fold increase among people who also use heroin. These twin disorders point to a drug-using population that is at high risk of overdose.

Why is Meth Use Rising?

The rise in methamphetamine use over the past few years can be attributed to increased availability, social influences, media portrayal, and inadequate prevention and treatment measures. Many people buy their drugs online and skip the danger of meeting in person, making it easy to get if you’ve downloaded a few apps.

Television has popularized and sensationalized meth addiction and drug use, and the media seems to be influenced in that direction as well.

The Impact of Meth

Meth use can have a dramatic impact on people’s lives and their loved ones.

Substance use disorders lead to changes in behavior, such as mood swings, aggression, and withdrawal from friends and family. People addicted to the drug may also experience physical symptoms like weight loss, dental problems, and skin sores. Longer-term use can cause serious health issues, including heart problems, psychosis, and even death.

Substance use disorders can afflict anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. If someone you love is struggling with meth use, it's crucial to recognize the signs and offer support.

Meth Addiction (Stimulant Use Disorder)

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. It works by impacting the brain's dopamine levels, inducing intense feelings of pleasure and energy. Initially used for its euphoric effects, repeated use leads to tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same high. This cycle of escalating use increases the likelihood of addiction as users continue to chase the high.

Many factors can contribute to the development of addiction, including hereditary susceptibility and psychological factors such as stress. People with a history of childhood trauma may be more susceptible to substance use disorders, according to research. Social influences like peer pressure or environment may also be a factor.

People from all walks of life live with a substance use disorder.

As addiction progresses, individuals prioritize obtaining and using their drug of choice over other responsibilities and activities. They continue to do this despite experiencing negative consequences. Eventually, an addicted person will experience deteriorating physical and mental health. Their drug use can also lead to strained relationships or legal issues such as arrests.

Symptoms of Meth Use

Some signs and symptoms of meth use may be hidden from loved ones. However, many symptoms are more straightforward to observe. Addiction quickly takes over a user’s life, making the symptoms more evident as time wears on, and they are unable to hide the negative consequences.

People who are high on a stimulant will display symptoms such as speaking quickly, being quick to anger, insomnia or staying up all night, and even paranoia. They may sweat a lot or skip meals due to feeling “hyped up.”

Here are some physical signs of methamphetamine use:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Skin sores or acne
  • Dental problems ("meth mouth")
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Excessive sweating or body odor

Behavioral Changes

As it takes over a person’s life, it causes changes in the way they think and act. These changes may seem dramatic to loved ones, but they are some classic symptoms.

Some things to look out for:

  • Erratic or violent behavior
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Hyperactivity or excessive talking
  • Secretive or deceptive behavior
  • Engaging in risky activities
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making

Cognitive/Psychological Signs

As a person’s drug use spirals out of control, they may begin to experience psychological changes. They may exhibit symptoms of a mental health disorder. Here are some of the psychological and cognitive issues people who use meth can experience:

  • Paranoia or hallucinations
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Mood swings or emotional instability
  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Delusions of grandeur or invincibility
  • Psychotic symptoms

What Age Group Uses Meth the Most?

Methamphetamine use affects people of all ages, but its prevalence varies among different demographics. While adults are more commonly associated with methamphetamine use, youth are not immune to its effects.

Meth use tends to skew younger and tends to be higher in the age 18-25 group. That is starting to change, however. In 2020, research emerged that use is rising among men aged 26–34, 35–49, and over the age of 50, especially among those without high school diplomas or who live below the poverty line.

Younger people often use meth due to peer pressure, curiosity, and a desire for increased energy or academic performance. It is highly addictive for anyone at any age, and people use drugs for a variety of reasons, often to relax or relieve boredom, stress, or symptoms of a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Methamphetamine use can have severe consequences for people of any age or background, leading to addiction and health problems, as well as legal, financial, and social difficulties.

Long-Term Effects of Meth Use

Long-term methamphetamine use can have devastating effects on physical and mental health.

Chronic use can lead to cardiovascular problems, dental issues (often referred to as "meth mouth"), severe weight loss, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and cognitive impairment.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), methamphetamine use can also increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases. HIV and hepatitis B and C are sometimes transmitted among individuals who inject the drug.

Meth use can have profound social and economic consequences, leading to job loss, financial instability, estranged relationships, and involvement in criminal activity. Treatment and support are crucial for people struggling with substance use disorders to reclaim their lives.

Getting Help for Addiction

At Present Moments, we understand what it takes to help you build solid, positive habits and navigate life's ups and downs as a newly sober person.

Quitting your drug of choice is just the first step—we're committed to helping you make lasting changes by addressing underlying issues and exploring past events that may be holding you back.

We're here and ready to support you. Get in touch today to get started on your path toward sobriety and long-term wellness.



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