Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug. It works on the central nervous system to activate the reward centers of the brain.
The signs of meth use can include hyperactivity, erratic behavior, and intense mood swings, even in cases of moderate use.
Methamphetamine addiction is more likely to cause exaggerated behavioral changes.
How Behavior Changes With Meth Use
Meth use will cause a number of noticeable behavioral changes. These behavioral markers will change as the high progresses and eventually declines.
If your loved one is dependent on methamphetamine, withdrawal symptoms will follow with their own set of behavioral changes.
Of course, no singular behavior change is a sure sign that your loved one is using meth. They are all singular parts of a pattern of behavior associated with methamphetamine use.
Poor Judgment And Problem-Solving
Chronic meth abuse damages areas of the brain that govern decision-making.
Under the influence of methamphetamine, you are more likely to make poor choices, especially if you’re experiencing cravings.
Violent behavior can be a symptom of meth abuse. As you come down from meth, you may experience a lot of negative feelings, which may elicit violence.
With that said, meth abuse can also cause psychosis. This is a far more common source of violent behavior among people who use meth.
Meth is a stimulant, so an increase in energy is expected.
You may notice that your loved one is unable to focus. They may seem intensely engaged only to divert their attention at a seemingly random moment.
As their high wears off, your loved one may continue to exhibit signs of hyperactivity as they become increasingly agitated and irritable.
Meth-related mood swings are intensely unpredictable, but they do follow a general pattern.
For the most part, your mood will be high when you’re actively using meth and extremely low when you’re not.
In a seemingly short period of time, you could shift from a state of manic positivity to anger and depression.
The behavior known as meth tweaking usually occurs as the effects of methamphetamine start to wear off.
It describes general fidgeting that may also be marked by scratching.
The fidgeting is caused by restricted blood vessels, which create an itchy/tingly sensation. Minor scratching may have a similar cause.
Severe scratching is caused by tactile hallucinations that make it feel as if there are bugs under your skin.
Effects Of Meth On The Brain May Determine Behavior
Methamphetamine abuse physically changes the brain and its chemistry. These changes undoubtedly play a factor in a person’s behavior while using meth.
When you abuse methamphetamine, your brain produces up to twice the normal number of microglial cells.
In normal amounts, these cells are responsible for discarding damaged neurons. In the brain of someone who abuses meth, these cells actually attack healthy neurons.
The loss of neurons can damage a number of functions including memory, muscle control, and cognition.
Decreased White Matter
One of the long-term effects of meth abuse is brain damage. Research shows that methamphetamine increases blood flow defects and ischemic lesions in these areas of the brain.
Damage to white matter slows the brain’s response and affects memory as well as learning.
The particular discovery of blood flow defects and lesions may explain the development of mental health disorders in people who use meth.
Decreased Dopamine And Serotonin Neurotransmitters
Methamphetamine blocks the reuptake of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin while increasing their production.
The drug essentially floods your brain with “feel good” hormones.
In as little as one exposure, your brain will decrease its normal production of dopamine and serotonin in an attempt to achieve balance.
That means your brain is severely underproducing these hormones, causing you to feel anxious and depressed when you aren’t using drugs.
Other Physical Signs Of Meth Use
The physical signs of meth use are more obvious but can take longer to develop.
Meth abuse tends to make people skip basic self-care. As a result, your loved one may experience significant weight loss, neglect personal hygiene, and develop the severe tooth decay known as “meth mouth.”
They may also have skin sores. These meth sores may be side effects of intense scratching, burns from smoking crystal meth, or injection drug use.
How People Act During Meth Withdrawal
Meth withdrawal is serious and requires professional healthcare. The effects on the body produce clear behavioral changes.
Physical changes include:
- slow heart rate
- variable body temperature
- high blood pressure
- increased appetite
- intense cravings
These changes alongside the lack of dopamine and serotonin cause the behavioral changes associated with withdrawal. Irritability, anger, and even psychosis can result from withdrawal.
Treatment Options For Meth Addiction
Substance use disorders are difficult diseases. If your loved one needs help, they need a reputable rehab center and access to sound medical advice.
A medically supervised detox program is a must for meth addiction treatment, given the risk of heart attack and other cardiac events.
After detox, your loved one will be able to choose from multiple treatment options, including behavioral therapy, support groups, and 12-step programs.
Find Treatment For Meth Abuse At Bedrock Recovery Center
At Bedrock Recovery Center, we offer scientifically backed treatment programs that will support your loved one through their addiction treatment.
If you have a loved one who is acting like they’re using meth, then call our Massachusetts treatment center today to learn more about what we can do to help.
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.