People who use methamphetamine, or “meth” for short, are at risk of developing a few conditions, including meth sores and yellow teeth. If a person who abuses meth has either of these conditions, these are among the visible effects of abuse, which indicate that the person needs professional help immediately.
What Is Meth?
Meth is a potent stimulant drug that acts on the central nervous system. The odorless crystalline powder substance elevates users’ moods and levels of alertness. Users also have bursts of energy. As MedlinePlus shares, users who take the drug have a range of reactions to the drug. “Meth at first causes a rush of good feelings, but then users feel edgy, overly excited, angry, or afraid.”
Meth’s ingredients, such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, are commonly found in over-the-counter cold medicines. Hazardous chemicals used to “cook” the drug remain toxic to the environment long after illegal production labs are shut down, the NIDA says. People who make meth can use all kinds of dangerous chemicals in it, putting users’ health at risk. These include:
- Battery acid
- Red phosphorus
What Is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is the abbreviated name for crystal methamphetamine, a form of methamphetamine. The highly addictive substance, which can appear in the form of an odorless, bitter crystalline powder or brown, white, pink, or yellow chunks, is a popular party drug made with pseudoephedrine, an ingredient commonly found in over-the-counter cold medicines. Many crystal meth abusers develop a tolerance for the drug quickly that rapidly grows with regular use. Nicknames for it include “crank,” “crystal,” “ice,” “speed,” “Tina,” and “glass.”
What Happens When Users Take Crystal Meth?
Meth can be smoked, snorted, or smoked. Smoking is a popular way of using it. Once the drug hits the bloodstream, it does so quickly, bringing on an intense, euphoric rush, or a “flash” to the user that lasts only a few minutes. Snorting the drug or taking it orally will cause a high, but it won’t be as intense as the one produced through smoking or injecting it. The high produced through this method can take three to five minutes to happen.
Usually, meth users adopt a “binge and crash” pattern when using the drug because its effects wear off so quickly. However, that does not mean the drug has completely exited the body. Users seek more of the drug before the concentration of the substance falls significantly in the bloodstream. As a result, they may give up food and sleep while binging on the drugs for days or several nights straight.
As individuals lose themselves in meth addiction, there are telltale signs that are indicative of their crystal meth abuse. Meth sores and yellow teeth indicative of tooth decay and poor oral hygiene are among the ways you can recognize the effects of meth abuse and spot a meth user.
Picking At The Skin Creates Meth Sores
Body sores, particularly on the arms and face, are known as “meth sores.” It is common for meth users to pick and scratch at their skin. This causes them to have numerous sores all over their body, especially on their arms and faces. They can also have sores on their mouths.
A side effect of meth use is a crawling sensation underneath the user’s skin. Some refer to this feeling as “imaginary crank bugs” that cause meth users to pick at their faces excessively. This picking action damages the skin.
Occasionally, these individuals will pick at acne that appears on the skin as a result of poor hygiene, clogged pores due to the drug’s toxins, and meth causing restricted blood flow. All of these things can affect a meth user’s physical appearance. These changes to the skin can make users appear far older than they are.
Meth users can also have other sores or markings on their bodies that aren’t caused by picking at the skin. These usually are burn marks on the fingers and/or the mouth. They also can have track marks from injecting the drug into their bodies. Crystal meth users who exhibit these physical changes usually do so because of repeated use.
Yellow Teeth A Sign Of ‘Meth Mouth’
“Meth mouth,” a condition that causes severe tooth decay and gum disease, as the American Dental Association notes, is common among meth users.
Teeth usually break and/or fall out when these conditions occur. A study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that of 571 mouths of methamphetamine users:
- 96% had cavities
- 58% had untreated tooth decay; and
- 31% had six or more missing teeth
Users may also have teeth that are blackened, stained, rotted or crumbled. The yellowing of the teeth comes from smoking meth. Meth also has other effects on the mouth and oral hygiene. OralAnswers.com shares that meth dries out the mouth because it directly affects saliva flow from the salivary glands.
Saliva protects the teeth, so when it dries out, it leaves teeth in a vulnerable state. The site also notes that some street meth is mixed with byproducts that create acidic conditions that can also cause the teeth to decay.
Meth Can Cause Other Signs That Indicate Abuse
Other changes in appearance brought on by crystal meth use include:
- Change in personal appearance, grooming habits. Meth addicts will usually appear disheveled or unbathed. They may wear dirty or mismatched clothes, have messy hair, and look like they haven’t slept in days, which is usually the case. A person may also have a strange body odor that comes from the pores. This is partly caused by the chemicals in crystal meth. Some say this odor can smell similar to cat urine or ammonia. Meth users also may sweat a great deal. This means not bathing regularly can worsen body odor.
- Weight loss. Meth use can suppress the appetite. Losing the desire to eat leads to weight loss that can be extreme to the point where the body consumes its own facial fat and muscle tissue. Because of this, some crystal meth users have an emaciated, malnourished, or skeletal-like appearance.
- Abuse of other substances. Crystal meth users likely abuse other substances, including alcohol and tobacco. This, of course, means more toxins are coursing through the body, which contributes to accelerated aging.
Behavioral Signs Of Meth Addiction
In addition to physical changes occurring, a meth addict’s behavior may also signal drug addiction. Here are other signs that indicate meth abuse:
- Engaging in repetitive tasks. Because meth heightens users’ awareness, they can focus for long periods on mundane activities and engage in repetitive, meaningless tasks for hours on end. One example is obsessively taking apart electronics and putting them back together.
- Shaking, twitching, facial tics. Involuntary body movements are common in chronic crystal meth users. Eye twitching is among the most common physical reactions.
- Increased rate of speech; talking rapidly. Incessant talking is another symptom of crystal meth intoxication. The substance speeds users up in several ways, including their energy levels. They move around a great deal and jump from one conversation to another. Listeners may not be able to understand them because of incoherent speech.
- Sleeplessness. Not getting enough sleep despite looking and feeling tired is characteristic of chronic meth use. Users can go for long periods without sleep. Some may be able to go 24 hours to 120 hours without any sleep.
Meth Use Can Cause Irreversible Harm
For many meth users, the desire to experience again and again the first high felt after using the drug makes it far difficult to quit using it. Meth overwhelms the brain with dopamine, causing an intense rush of pleasure or a prolonged sense of euphoria.
However, that pleasure comes at a cost.
Using meth regularly over time destroys the brain’s ability to produce dopamine on its own. What that means is that at some point, it will become impossible for meth users to feel pleasure.
When the chronic crystal meth abuser reaches this stage, known as “tweaking,” the body and mind can’t achieve the high any longer. This stage occurs at the end of a crystal meth binge and is considered the most dangerous. Meth users may then fall into a depression and use alcohol or heroin to self-medicate against it. This further pushes a meth abuser deeper into addiction.
Chronic Meth Users Are Also At Risk Of Experiencing The Following:
- Heart attack
- Increased body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Homicidal and suicidal tendencies
Get Help For Meth Addiction Today
Without the proper support, meth relapse or overdose is always a possibility. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that must be managed long-term. People in addiction recovery must remain aware of signals that could trigger use, which vary from person to person, and learn effective strategies to manage stress and other emotions that could lead them to use.
If a person stops using meth and does not receive the proper support and medical treatment, they could fall back into using the drug again. Relapse often begins before the first use of the drug, so it is important to pay attention to changes in behavior that could hint that a relapse is on the way.