Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly addictive drug, which is a central nervous system stimulant. Meth users experience a rush, followed by an agitative state. Meth is one of the most popular illegal drugs in the United States, because it can be made easily, and is accessible. Meth can be taken orally, or smoked snorted, and even dissolved and injected. Due to its highly addictive nature, one finds many cases of meth abuse.
Approximately 0.2% of the population 12 years and older have experienced some form of meth abuse. The intravenous use of meth is about 4 times more popular in men than it is in women. There are many, varied factors that can impact the likelihood of someone developing a meth use disorder. Genetics plays a role, in that they can significantly impact the development of substance abuse. If an individual’s parents have abused drugs, chances are that they will too. The surrounding environment is also important. Those who have witnessed community violence, or socialize with other drug abusers or dealers are also more likely to develop meth use disorders.
While there are certainly physical symptoms of meth abuse, there are even earlier behavioral signs that might be a clue that someone is abusing the drug. Some of the behavioral signs of meth abuse are:
- Not taking part in activities that the individual previously enjoyed
- Withdrawing from socializing with family and friends
- Performing poorly at work or school
- The sudden requirement for money
- Stealing from family and friends
- Reckless or risk-taking behavior
- Unsafe sexual practices
- Violent behavior
- Obsessive-compulsive behavior
While the symptoms of meth abuse are different in different people, there is certainly some overlap with the most common behavioral symptoms. Because meth chemically alters how the person abusing it thinks and feels, it changes their behavior, until they finally stop hiding their drug problem.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, if an individual meets more than 2 of the following criteria within a 12 month period, then they can be clinically diagnosed with meth use disorder:
- Using meth even in situations that are dangerous to the person or others around them, such as driving under the influence
- Neglecting professional, academic or personal responsibilities
- Social or interpersonal problems directly caused by meth use
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit meth
- Requiring more meth to reach the same high, i.e. tolerance
- Developing physical or psychological problems directly related to meth use
- Giving up usual activities to use meth
- Strong cravings for meth
If a person meets 2 or 3 of the above criteria, they can be diagnosed with mild meth abuse disorder. 4 or 5 is considered moderate, and 6 or more is severe.
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