Crystal meth is one of the many names given to methamphetamine, an illegal stimulant that is snorted, smoked or injected. The name “crystal meth” refers to a crystallized form of methamphetamine that is most often smoked. This form of the drug is so addictive that most people require crystal meth treatment to escape the drug’s grip.
Methamphetamine, which is also known on the street by the names meth and crank, is cheaper than heroin or cocaine. Its effects are felt quickly and are long lasting, leading many substance abuse experts to call methamphetamine the most addictive illicit drug. Like amphetamine, meth acts on the central nervous system. Users of methamphetamine experience elevated energy levels, a suppressed appetite and a feeling of euphoria. The main difference between amphetamine and methamphetamine is that meth releases much higher levels of stimulant into the brain.
The stimulant effects of crystal meth and other forms of methamphetamine come at a heavy price. The nerve pathways in the brain that are associated with pleasure and happiness can be damaged. Even after crystal meth treatment, many former addicts suffer from apathy and are unable to experience pleasure for several months or even years. In addition, the stimulant qualities of the drug lead users to go without adequate sleep or nutrition for days at a time. This unhealthy lifestyle can cause brain and nervous system damage.
The appearance of crystal meth addicts will give clues to their addiction. They will take on a haggard look and appear older than their actual age due to lack of sleep and poor eating habits. A common delusion among meth users is that they have bugs under their skin. Constant picking will leave open sores on the face and other parts of the body. Because the drug dehydrates the body and removes saliva from the mouth, tooth decay is another one of the side effects of crystal meth abuse.
Besides the brain damage and other physical problems that can be caused by crystal meth, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that methamphetamine abusers are at increased risk of contracting Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS. This is due in part to a loss of judgment that causes meth users to engage in risky behavior.
Residential treatment that separates the addict from former meth-using associates is the safest way to recover from crystal meth addiction. Crystal meth treatment must begin with a period of detoxification that allows the addict to break the cycle of drug usage. Therapy should follow detox in order to address the physical and psychological effects of addiction. There is currently no medication that can be used to combat crystal meth addiction. The most effective forms of crystal meth treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy and 12-step programs that include group therapy.