Crystal Meth Rehab Guide
Crystal methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is a highly addictive substance that is illegal in all 50 states. The purpose of this article is to educate people on the dangers of crystal meth. This includes how to spot an addiction to crystal meth and how to seek help. Making the decision to end an addiction can feel scary and overwhelming. Luckily, there are many places in the state of Nevada and across the country that provide comprehensive substance abuse treatment.
What is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse. The drug is is a type of methamphetamine that falls under the category of stimulants—substances that alter the central nervous system.1Crystal meth is a synthetic drug that does not naturally occur in the environment; it is man-made. It looks like a shiny rock or a white pill, and is made from the powder of methamphetamine.
Crystal Meth vs. Meth
Crystal meth is derived from methamphetamine and the two substances are chemically similar. Crystal meth is thought to be the more potent version of the two. Methamphetamine is a bitter, white powder that can be ingested into the body in several ways: intravenously, snorting, and eating it.2 Because crystal meth is made into a rock form, the most common way to ingest it is by smoking it. On the streets, methamphetamines can be referenced as crank, ice, crystal, chalk, and glass.2
It is important to understand that crystal meth is illegal. Methamphetamines, on the other hand, are legal through a prescription only. Methamphetamines are prescribed by doctors to treat a number of physical and mental health disorders including ADHD and sleep disorders. People who use methamphetamines and crystal meth are at risk of developing tolerance, dependence, and addiction to both substances and can experience side effects.
What Happens When You Do Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is desirable to people for several reasons. Like many drugs, illegal or prescribed, crystal meth acts on the brain and the central nervous system (CNS) to produce a rush of energy and positive emotions like happiness and excitement.2These effects are short-lived, however. After the intense rush subsides, many people are left feeling anxious, angry, agitated, and afraid. What makes crystal meth so desirable—the burst of energy and positive emotions—also reinforces its use, despite the negative effects that come after.
It is important to note that anytime someone uses injection as a method to get drugs into the body, it increases the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS. These diseases are transmitted through blood and other bodily fluids that can linger on drug paraphernalia.3 Furthermore, research shows that the use of crystal meth can exacerbate the symptoms of HIV by damaging the nerve cells that lead to cognitive problems.3
Unfortunately, Crystal meth can cause pretty significant short-term side effects. These include:3
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Rapid breathing.
- Increased energy.
- An increase in physical movement.
- A reduction in appetite.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- An increase in blood pressure.
- An increase in body temperature.
It goes without saying that many of these side effects, if left untreated, can lead to greater health concerns and potential problems.
The long-term health risks of using crystal meth can be catastrophic to physical health, mental wellness, and cognitive abilities. Side effects can be irreversible and lead to significant social, medical, and occupational problems. For example, the violent behavior that can develop after long-term use of crystal meth could lead to criminal charges, incarceration, and job loss.
Additional long-term effects of crystal methamphetamine use include:3
- Poor memory and memory impairment.
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Changes in the physiological structure and function of the brain.
- Psychosis including paranoia (severe distrust of others) and hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that don’t exist).
- Extreme itching that can lead to sores on the skin.
- Severe dental issues, or “meth mouth.”
- Significant weight loss.
Crystal meth can change the physical structure of the brain as well as the way the brain performs. Studies show that the use of crystal meth alters the brain’s dopamine system; those who use it may be at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.3
Finally, severe medical complications and even death can occur with long-term crystal meth use. Damage to the nerves within the brain can lead to stroke and long-term use can cause inflammation in the lining of the heart and increase the body’s temperature, potentially triggering convulsions and death.4
Signs of Crystal Meth Abuse
Crystal methamphetamine comes with the risk of developing dependence and a possible addiction to the substance. The terms abuse, dependence, and addiction all refer to concepts under the substance abuse umbrella. While they are similar, there are distinct differences between them.
Abuse refers to when a person takes a substance in unintended ways. Taking too much of a prescribed drug or using it more frequently than directed can lead to abuse. The same goes for taking drugs that were not prescribed to you or ingesting them not as directed (such as snorting vs. swallowing).
There are common symptoms of crystal meth abuse to look out for. Red flags include extreme amounts of energy, scratching the skin, rapid talking, difficulty standing or sitting still, poor appetite, difficulty sleeping, and burn marks on fingers and lips from holding a meth pipe.5
Crystal Meth Dependence & Addiction
Dependence refers to the point in substance use where the body becomes dependent on the substance. Without it, the body is at risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is the final stage of substance use; it is the point at which a person continues to use the substances despite its severe negative consequences on their lives. Someone can be physically dependent on a substance without being addicted.
Behavior change signifies addiction. Addiction is a compulsive need for a drug and/or alcohol. Classified as a mental health disorder, it can result in significant social, economic, and health problems.6 Addiction can cause one to lose a job, have problems with the law, fail to adhere to personal and family responsibilities, exhibit poor personal hygiene, and become unable to pay bills.
Crystal Meth Withdrawal
Withdrawal occurs when a body becomes physically dependent on a substance and the substance stops entering the body. Withdrawal symptoms of crystal meth include:3
- Psychosis such as hallucinations and delusions.
- Intense cravings for the drug.
- Severe depression.
The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms depend on factors such as age, length of substance use, age at first use, and underlying mental and medical issues. Withdrawal can also impact a person’s physiological and mental functioning. Due to the risks of withdrawal, many people choose to enter a drug rehab where they can safely detox from crystal meth. Rehab increases the likelihood of a successful recovery journey.
Crystal Meth Drug Rehab
For many people, detox is the primary reason for avoiding substance abuse rehabilitation. Cravings for crystal meth are strong. Attempting to detox alone can increase a person’s risk of relapse; furthermore, going cold turkey means there are no protective measures in place should medical intervention be necessary.
However, a substance abuse treatment facility can aid in the successful completion of detox and also help protect against relapse. Detoxing in a controlled setting under the supervision of medical professionals and addiction specialists can improve the patient’s comfort levels. It’s also worth noting that research is currently being conducted on medications that can help treat withdrawal symptoms. At a rehab facility, your team works with you to create a treatment plan based on your specific needs, challenges, and personal goals.
Crystal Meth Drug Rehab Centers
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of rehabs in Nevada and nationwide. At AAC, compassionate staff works with you to develop personalized treatment plans that suit your needs and address your goals. When you call, you will be greeted by an admissions navigator who can walk you through the treatment process and answer any questions you may have. Many of our admissions navigators have personal experience with addiction, so you can rest assured that you’ll be treated with compassion and your call will remain 100% confidential.
Addiction doesn’t have to rule your life any longer. We can be reached at 702-800-2682.
1.National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine research report: What is methamphetamine?
2.National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Meth (crank, ice) facts.
3.National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine drug facts.
4.National Drug Intelligence Center. (n.d.). Crystal methamphetamine fast facts.
5.National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Signs of meth use.
6.Hesse, M. (2006). What does addiction mean to me? Mens Sana Monographs. 4(1), 104-126.
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