What Is Meth?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Methamphetamine (commonly referred to as meth) is a highly addictive drug that stimulates the central nervous system. Meth is very similar to related drugs called amphetamines, which are typically used to treat individuals who have Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
Meth is commonly taken by smoking, snorting, or injecting the power into the body after it has been dissolved in water or alcohol. Some people also use meth pills, which they swallow to induce a euphoric high. However, it also causes certain side effects like meth sores, risk for heart disease, and many more.
Keep reading to find out more about meth sores and the various other side effects of meth, and how Icarus Behavioral Health can help you treat meth dependence effectively.
The Cycles of Stimulant Addiction
Meth is a stimulant drug that causes those who use it to go into a state of euphoria, temporarily boosting their senses, energy levels, emotions, and brain activity. This state of euphoria only lasts temporarily, which means that individuals who struggle with meth abuse and addiction often participate in repeated meth use to consistently immerse themselves into the stimulant effects.
As mentioned before, meth is highly addictive. Overuse of the drug can cause harmful effects on the body, possibly causing permanent damage to an individual’s physical and mental health or even death.
The Effects of Using Meth
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, meth is a stimulant drug. This means that using meth enhances the body’s physical capabilities and induces a euphoric state in someone for a short period of time.
If you aren’t sure what that means, then you can take coffee as an example. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. When people drink coffee, they often experience an increased sense of awareness, and alertness, and get a sudden boost of energy. This is a much weaker version of the feelings that people experience when they use meth, as they are both stimulants.
Using meth stimulates the central nervous system by producing higher levels of dopamine, which is a hormone produced when people experience happiness that rewards the brain and supports bodily functions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that when people use meth, they usually experience the following symptoms:
- Decreased appetite
- Feeling alert and energized
- Faster breathing
- Irregular or fast heart rate
- High blood pressure and body temperature
However, there is a reason why the use of meth is currently restricted and criminalized across the country. Frequent use of meth can be extremely harmful to a person’s health.
Despite its stimulant effects, the overuse of meth can cause several health risks and even death. It’s best to avoid using meth and to choose healthier alternatives that do not pose the same dire effects.
Meth vs Crystal Meth: What’s the Difference?
If you’ve heard about meth, then you’ve probably heard about something called crystal meth as well. These two drugs are the same in effect but not in appearance. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that crystal meth gained its nickname largely for its texture.
Unlike regular meth, which comes in the form of a powder, crystal meth is seen as a crystalized form of the drug that looks like small glass fragments or shiny rocks. Crystal meth users often experience more intense effects because this version of the drug can be more potent.
Both forms can also be made at home with some effort, which contributes to the increasing rate of meth addiction, as lower-grade forms of meth can easily be manufactured despite attempts to curb access to ephedrine and other core ingredients in home meth recipes.
What Are Meth Sores?
Meth sores are one of the many harmful physical effects that methamphetamine users experience as they frequently use the drug. Most of the time, long-term meth users are typically the ones who suffer the most from these symptoms. Meth sores are similar to pimples or rashes in appearance. In contrast to the itching and scratching that many opioid users experience (or ‘dope sores’) the forms of irritation caused by methamphetamine use are often aggravated and aimed at extracting real or perceived blemishes from the dermis.
They are red, sore, and may appear like acne if you aren’t looking closely enough. Meth sores are incredibly uncomfortable, itchy, and painful. They can also cause various side effects once they are formed. Harmful bacteria seeps into sores, causing skin infections to form.
How Do Meth Sores Form?
Despite their name, meth sores aren’t actually caused by smoking meth or by using it alone. Most of the time, meth sores are caused by external factors like scratching, using tools or having the drug released through bodily substances like sweat. There are three common causes of mouth sores or meth sores, which include the following:
The main cause of meth sores is usually skin picking. If you use meth frequently or for a prolonged time, your body begins to undergo certain changes. As meth use continues, the person’s immune system weakens. You will begin experiencing something called “meth hallucinations” which causes you to see or feel certain sensations that aren’t there. One of the best examples of this is meth mites.
When using the drug, meth can make you begin to feel like mites are crawling across your skin. This causes a desire to pick or scratch at your skin in hopes of getting rid of the uncomfortable sensation.
However, a weakened immune system cannot heal the body fast enough or provide enough protection against these self-inflicted forms of harm. If you continue to scratch and pick at your skin, more and more meth sores form.
Using Meth Pipes
When a meth user consumes the drug, they often use a glass tube called a meth pipe or “pookie.” Glass can become very hot when it comes in contact with heat. If you use a pookie, then your skin will be exposed to an uncomfortable level of heat every time you smoke.
When the pipe touches your skin as you smoke, the skin around the area feels sore, and irritated, and may create open wounds. In some cases, the pipe is hot enough to burn the skin, which ultimately causes meth sores and open sores to form around the area.
There are also cases where injecting meth into the body using a syringe causes meth sores to form. Though these are typically ‘injection site reactions’ and not skin sores in the standard sense, they can contribute to a ‘rash’ (excuse the pun) of dermal problems for regular meth users.
Sweating Out Meth
This is one of the instances where meth sores are caused directly by meth itself and not an external factor. When you consume meth, it is often released through the glands and can be excreted as sweat. This can become toxic for the body, irritating the skin and open wounds to create meth sores. Some users have also reported the emergence of unmetabolized crystals from their pores, though this has not been documented in clinical research.
Your condition can get even worse if you’ve developed poor personal hygiene, which is a symptom that often comes along with meth use. The lack of personal hygiene combined with the meth-filled sweat may cause you to develop meth sores. Once the sweat seeps into the open wounds or skin sores, there is a higher risk for infection and overall health decline.
Where Do Meth Sores Usually Form?
Meth sores are most commonly found on the face but they can develop anywhere throughout the body. Meth sores on the face are typically caused by skin picking, sweat, or using the meth pipe.
Meth users may also develop meth sores around their arms from the syringes that contain the drug. In some cases, meth sores may even form on the mouth due to the heat of a pipe, or constant agitation and rubbing at the affected area. When you live in a hot and arid environment like New Mexico, chapped lips that are also dry to meth use can quickly become sore and cracked.
What Are Meth Mites?
Meth mites (also known as meth spiders or meth bugs) refer to the crawling sensation that meth users experience after long-term use of the drug. As mentioned before, using meth can induce hallucinations. If you use the drug, then you may experience something called meth psychosis, which may cause you to experience hallucinations, fear, paranoia, and heightened emotional responses.
Meth mites are meant to represent the bugs that users feel crawling on their bodies. Most of the time, you will only feel the bugs crawling on your skin. However, more intense cases of meth psychosis may cause visual hallucinations as well, allowing you to actually see the meth bugs. This may cause increased scratching and skin-picking, eventually causing meth sores to form in the area.
What Is Meth Mouth?
Meth mouth is a condition that causes tooth and gum decay among individuals that use meth. After long-term meth use, you will inevitably begin to experience the effects on your immune system. If the immune system is compromised by prolonged meth use, then the body will no longer be able to efficiently protect itself against disease and infections.
If you use meth frequently, then you are at risk for meth mouth. Meth mouth can cause you to develop several cavities, decaying teeth, and gums. You may also experience teeth falling out as you continue to use the drug. Combined with poor dental hygiene, using meth can cause severe harm to your health and wellness.
Other Side Effects That Meth Users May Experience
Aside from meth sores and other types of skin sores, users may also experience the following conditions.
Meth Addiction and Abuse
Meth addiction and abuse (also known as methamphetamine use disorder) is the improper and repeated use of meth and crystal meth. Drug abuse and drug addiction are extremely harmful to a person’s physical and mental health. They can cause dire health issues due to the effects of the drug.
Developing an addiction causes a person’s entire personality to shift and change, possibly affecting their health, personal relationships, and entire life in the process. If you or your loved one are struggling with addiction or abuse, then we are ready to provide the addiction treatment that you need to recover.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease
One of the side effects that come with taking meth is an irregular heartbeat and blood flow. When a person uses meth, their blood vessels constrict. It causes a spike in blood flow and blood pressure. This means that you are at greater risk for heart disease, even at a young age.
You may be more prone to conditions such as arrhythmia (a condition that affects the heart rhythm) and myocardial (a condition that affects the structure of the heart).
Meth Induced Psychosis
With regular methamphetamine intake, the chance of psychosis or a psychotic reaction to the drug increases. Especially for those with a history of mental illness that features psychotic features, meth can aggravate and worsen the tendency towards paranoia, delusional thinking, and grandiose delusions.
Treatment for Meth Sores
Meth sores do not have any specialized treatment. Since meth sores occur due to skin irritation or an allergic reaction to the drug, they can be treated in the same way as a normal open wound. In most cases, meth sores will likely heal on their own but continuous use of meth will most likely cause new sores to form in the future.
The best way to prevent skin irritation and sores is to stop using meth altogether, along with taking care of the skin and medical issues. Addiction does not have easy solutions and recovery can be an ongoing process.
However, at Icarus Behavioral Health, our doors are always open, and we can help you begin the process of getting off meth and help you take care of your overall physical health as well. As a holistic rehab, helping you achieve whole health is a core part of what we do!
Meth Overdose: Signs and Symptoms
An overdose occurs when a person consumes or uses an amount of meth that their body cannot handle. Individuals who have overdosed on meth will experience the following symptoms:
- Chest pain or heart-related issues
- Intense stomach pain
- Vomiting and nausea
- Severe diarrhea
- Irregular breathing patterns or inability to breathe
- Heightened aggression and emotional responses
If any of these symptoms are happening to you, seek immediate medical attention and contact emergency services if they are severe. All of these symptoms can become life-threatening if left unresolved.
Meth Addiction Treatment Options
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a comprehensive treatment plan that aims to help individuals recover from substance abuse and addiction. Behavioral therapy aims to set clients on the right track to recovery by immersing them in enriching activities such as individual counseling, addiction group therapy, family education, and much more.
Most of these treatment plans last for 12 weeks and include drug tests to track a client’s possible meth usage throughout the entire healing process. If you are struggling with addiction, CBT can help you find healthier and more meaningful alternatives moving forward.
Inpatient Recovery Treatment
Inpatient treatment for meth addiction and abuse begins when you or your loved ones check into a treatment center. The goal of inpatient treatment is to help you recover from drug use as you are immersed in a supportive and comforting environment. Inpatient treatment allows your loved ones to rest assured that you are safe and well-cared for as you recover.
As a client at Icarus, you will enjoy safe facilities, addiction group therapy, counseling, and an optimized treatment plan throughout your healing process.
Embark on the Road to Recovery Today
Icarus Behavioral Health welcomes all clients who wish to experience an enriching and support-filled recovery process. All of our clients are handled by our licensed medical professionals and reliable staff. We can assure you that you won’t be left on your own through the difficult early days of meth recovery.
If you or a loved one are struggling with meth and want to live free of meth mites, meth sores, and the worries that go along with chasing a crystal high, please give yourself a break and reach out to our welcoming Admissions team today!