Methamphetamine or meth is an addictive central nervous system stimulant. It typically comes in the form of crystalline powder or coarse crystals. The powder is snorted while the crystals can be smoked or dissolved in liquid and injected. Like other stimulant drugs, meth increases the level of dopamine in the brain, leading to increased blood pressure and heart rate and a rush of excitement and energy.
Meth is commonly abused because of its euphoric effects. In addition to being highly addictive, this drug also causes a variety of physical effects including meth sores. If you’ve ever seen meth before and after pictures, you’ve probably seen these wounds. In this article, we’ll take a close look at why meth sores develop and how individuals with meth abuse issues can get the help they need.
Signs of Meth Dependence
The more meth an individual uses, the more the body develops a tolerance towards it. This drives them to use more and more in order to achieve a high. Many people become addicted to the euphoria that meth causes. In addition, meth, like other addictive drugs, changes the neural pathways in the brain so that people become dependent on it.
People who are dependent on meth often display certain behaviors and symptoms. These can include:
- Paranoia or erratic behavior
- Extreme bursts of energy
- Mood swings
- Constant, rapid speech
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid eye movement
- Rapid breathing
- Unpredictable sleep schedule
- Teeth grinding
- Tooth or gum decay
- Pale or blotchy skin
- Profuse sweating
People who are abusing meth also tend to tweak and crash. Tweaking occurs at the end of a high when the individual is no longer experiencing euphoria. Instead, they experience cravings and feelings of despair.
Signs of tweaking include:
- Detachment from reality
- Intense cravings
- Extreme frustration and paranoia
- The feelings of bugs crawling on the skin
- Sores on the skin
The crash usually occurs one to three days after the last use and it is characterized by depression, hopelessness, and a loss of energy and cognitive function. People who are crashing often sleep for one to three days.
What Are Meth Sores?
Meth sores are common in people who have a meth addiction. In fact, they are one of the most noticeable indicators of consistent meth use and addiction. Meth sores can form on almost any area of the body. However, they are most commonly found around the mouth or on the hands, arms, or chest.
Because of the appearance of meth sores in the early stages, they can be mistaken for acne, especially when they’re on the face. However, they’re open, red, and inflamed wounds that can develop a scab as they heal. Meth sores can be quite large if they become infected or the individual scratches them a lot.
Meth sores develop for several reasons including:
- Burns from paraphernalia – Using a hot pipe can lead to burns on or around the mouth. The blisters can turn into open wounds.
- A compromised immune system – Meth can suppress the white blood cells that fight off viruses, and bacteria, thereby increasing the risk of skin infections.
- Lack of attention to personal hygiene – People who use meth often don’t take care of their skin. This can result in dryness, breakouts, and infection.
- Excessive scratching and picking – Meth use can lead to meth psychosis. This may include hallucinations in which the individual feels like there are bugs crawling on or underneath the skin. This can result in scratching which causes new sores to develop or opens existing sores.
- Restricted blood flow to the skin – Meth can limit how blood flows through the blood vessels. This makes the skin dry, scaly, and itchy. With enough picking and scratching, open wounds can develop.
- The release of meth through sweat – Does meth excrete through the skin? Yes. People who are addicted to meth often dissolve the drug in water so they can inject it. Since the drug becomes water-soluble, it leaves the body through the pores. Since the pores in the face tend to excrete the most sweat and oil, many meth sores occur on the face and around the mouth.
Severe meth sores require medical attention especially if they’re infected and ondividuals may be given antibiotics to clear up the infection. Some sores may be also need to be drained and treated at either a hospital or a doctor’s office. However, it’s important to understand that these are only short-term solutions. The only way to completely clear up meth sores is to treat the addiction.
Meth Face Vs Meth Mites Vs Meth Sores
There are many terms that describe the visible, physical effects of meth use and the experiences that meth users have. Let’s clarify these three terms. “Meth face” refers to the overall decline in physical appearance that many individuals experience especially if they’ve been abusing the drug for a long time. Meth users often have skin problems, dental issues, and major signs of premature aging.
The more meth an individual uses or the more frequently they use it, the worse the effects on the face. However, many of these effects can be reversed over time if the person stops using meth and gets professional help.
Meanwhile, “meth mites” are the bugs that long-term meth users often believe are living under their skin or crawling over them. They are also referred to as “meth bugs”. This type of hallucination is called formication. Since it involves both sight and touch, it can seem very real. Individuals, therefore, scratch themselves continually and this can lead to the meth sores which we’re discussing.
Other Side Effects of Crystal Meth
Although methamphetamine use can lead to highly visible meth sores, it can have even worse long-term side effects including brain changes that lead to addiction. Other side effects include:
- Loss of short-and/or long-term memory
- Violent behavior
- Becoming easily distracted
- Tics (repetitive motor functions with the hands or face)
- Decreased mental ability and/or motor function
- Extreme weight loss
- Dental problems, known as “meth mouth”
You may be asking “is damage from meth permanent?” It can be. However, some of the effects we’ve mentioned can be reversed if an individual gets treatment for their meth addiction. If you or someone you know is addicted to meth, you need to seek professional help.
Treatment Methods for Methamphetamine Addiction
While meth is highly addictive, there are many meth recovery stories out there. The first step in overcoming meth addiction is usually medical detox. Withdrawal symptoms can begin very quickly after a person stops using meth. In some cases, they may kick in two to three hours after the last use.
People who have been using meth for a long time are more likely to experience severe symptoms. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and even painful. Symptoms may include:
- Increased appetite
- Anxiety or agitation
- Itchy eyes
- Incoherent or slurred speech
- Suicidal thoughts
These symptoms can be too much to handle for people who try to quit using on their own. So much so, that many people start using again just to get relief from the discomfort. One way to make it through the detox process safely and as comfortably as possible is to enroll in a medically-supervised detox program. This provides individuals with 24/7 support as their bodies adjust to the absence of methamphetamine.
After completing detox, people struggling with meth addiction can move on to rehabilitation. There are several meth addiction treatment programs and they offer various types of therapies. Usually, patients get a full assessment before the treatment team recommends a treatment plan. Meth addiction often occurs alongside other mental health conditions and the treatment plan needs to take this into account.
Addiction treatment usually involves some combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and peer support. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and contingency management are often used. Interventions will vary depending on the facility an individual goes to and what their specific needs are. Finding the right rehab center and program increases the likelihood that an individual will be able to fight their addiction.
Long Term Recovery from Meth Is Possible with Circle of Hope
Circle of Hope is a luxury addiction treatment facility in Reseda, California. Whether you’re concerned about your meth use or that of someone else, contact us today to learn about our treatment options. If meth sores have started to develop, this is a clear sign that professional care is needed.
Making the first step towards recovery can be very difficult but we have highly trained professionals who can help you. You don’t have to try to manage substance use problems on your own. Call us or contact us via our website to ask questions. We’ll verify your insurance, quickly and confidentially with no obligation, and can even accommodate pets at our facility. So please, give yourself the break you deserve, and reach out Circle of hope today.