Methamphetamine is an incredibly addictive, stimulant drug that causes intense side effects, many of which can be deadly even on the first use. Most people who use meth tend to smoke the drug, a method that makes it even more addictive because of its quicker acting time. Unfortunately, meth use runs rampant in the United States today and specifically in the LGBTQ community, especially among gay and bisexual men.
If you or someone you know is suffering from meth use disorder and needs help from an LGBTQ-affirmative treatment center, you need to look no further. At La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center, we can offer safe, successful treatment options that will allow you to make the change you need to live a better, healthier life.
Meth recovery can be extremely difficult, and many people struggle with it for years, experiencing relapses and other setbacks as they try to break the hold the drug has on them. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methamphetamine has a number of serious long-term effects, addiction being one of the most intense and well-known. In addition, a person can also experience a number of other issues after abusing meth in the long-term, including
- Dependence and withdrawal
- Anhedonia (or the inability to feel pleasure) without the drug
- Mood disturbances
- Violent outbursts
- Psychosis (including hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia)
- Problems with cognition and memory
- Severe weight loss and malnutrition
- Sores on the mouth
- Tooth rot
Recovering from meth takes time and effort. In most cases, it cannot be done safely or effectively without the help of a professional meth rehab program. Still, one can put an end to their meth abuse if they desire to do so, and if they are provided with the help they need.
What Does Meth Look Like?
Methamphetamine is often found as a white powder that is mixed with other drugs, snorted, or mixed into a liquid to create an injectable drug (National Library of Medicine). In rarer cases, it can be taken as a pill. Most often, however, it is found as a crystal-like rock, which gives it its nickname, crystal meth.
Crystal meth is most frequently smoked through a pipe made of glass. This is the most addictive and dangerous way to use meth, although any way of using the drug is dangerous. Now that you know what meth looks like, you can ensure that you avoid using it and help others do the same.
One of the most obvious signs of methamphetamine abuse is the presence of sores around the mouth and on the skin. These are called meth sores, and the combination of them near the mouth along with decaying or broken teeth make up the term meth mouth.
These sores occur for a number of reasons. One is that meth users will constantly scratch their skin, leading to sores, open wounds, acne, and other skin problems. Another is because the drug itself causes the skin to become dry and cracked. Another still is because the pipe used to smoke crystal meth becomes very hot, which can cause it to burn the skin around the mouth. Meth users will often fidget and pick at these sores, causing them to get worse over time.
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?
Meth can stay in your system for a long time, especially if you use it often. The drug will start metabolizing in your body almost as soon as you first use it, and this is even truer if it is smoked. However, it might stay in an individual’s system and be detectable in urine for three to five days afterward.
Still, it is important to realize that most meth users do not take the drug once and then stop. In fact, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, certain individuals will keep using meth for days at a time in order to sustain their high. These users are called tweakers, and while they may appear normal at first, they are often fidgety, glassy-eyed, and jerky in their movements. These individuals have a strong potential for acting dangerously, so if you think someone has been using meth for several days straight, it is best not to approach them directly in order to avoid violent outcomes.
Meth Effect, Comedown & Withdrawal
Meth creates a number of intense short-term effects, including euphoria, excitement, increased energy, activity, and blood pressure. It will also increase one’s body temperature, which can be dangerous. It feels good at first to use the drug, but shortly thereafter, the unpleasant effects such as tremors, nausea, sweating, paranoia, and others will begin to occur. It is also possible for a person to have a seizure and die just from using meth one time.
Meth withdrawal can also occur in someone who has become dependent on the drug, but even after the first time one uses it, mild withdrawal symptoms might still occur, which is often known as the meth comedown. These can include symptoms as mild as fatigue, discomfort, and increased appetite, which is known as the crash period, as well as symptoms as severe as violent outbursts and temporary psychosis (Addiction).
Meth and Gay Sex
NIDA states the LGBTQ population deals with much higher rates of substance abuse and addiction than the straight population. Even more specifically, however, crystal meth abuse has become a serious problem in the gay and bisexual male community. Since the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, meth became a problem in the male-male hookup culture, leading to riskier sexual behaviors, increased sexually transmitted infections, and other dangerous outcomes (Association for Addiction Professionals).
Meth is a drug that causes individuals to take more risks, to believe themselves to be invulnerable, and to behave in ways they normally would not. When it became a part of the gay community, it increased the possibility of dangerous outcomes for men who have sex with other men, as well as increasing the chance of addiction, withdrawal, overdose, and other drug-related issues in this population.
Meth addiction requires safe treatment in a professional rehab center like La Fuente. In many cases, treatment begins with meth detox, which is the process of medically managing withdrawal symptoms while an individual slowly overcomes their dependence on a drug. Due to the fact that meth withdrawal can sometimes cause violent behavior and psychosis (which, as stated by NIDA, can last for years or more, sometimes even spontaneously occurring years after the initial withdrawal), patients will often require 24-hour medical detox treatment for weeks or even months.
Still, detox is only the beginning of the journey toward recovery from meth addiction. Most people require a full rehab program that offers both medications to minimize withdrawal symptoms and stabilize the patient as well as behavioral therapies that can help patients examine the reasons why they started abusing meth and learn coping skills to avoid relapse in the future. And, at La Fuente, we also offer LGBTQ-affirmative care to ensure all patients are treated with respect to their needs and consideration for their individual identities. Over time, meth addiction can be overcome with the help of professional detox and rehab treatment.