Crazy Crystal Meth

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Crazy Crystal Meth

20 October, 2021Articles, News

Over the recent past, most rehabs in South Africa, have seen an exponential growth in the number of clients who present with paranoid thoughts and behaviour as a result of the abuse of crystal meth as it is commonly called.

Where did it originate?

Methamphetamine is a man-made stimulant that’s been around for a long time. During World War II, soldiers were given meth to keep them awake. People have also taken the drug to lose weight and ease depression. It has also been used for the treatment of obesity and in the treatment of ADHD.

Crystal meth is made with the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which is found in many flu and cold remedies. It was mainly produced in labs in Mexico however many small labs appear to have sprung up in South Africa. The ingredients are usually variable-depending on that is cheap and accessible at the time, therefore the user never quite knows what they are getting. There is some indication from users that they believe it to be laced with what they refer to as “spiritual stuff” (muthi).

What Are the Effects?

  • Meth can make a user’s body temperature rise so high they could pass out or even die.
  • A user may feel anxious and confused, be unable to sleep, have mood swings, and become violent.
  • A user may age quickly. His/her skin may dull, and he/she can develop hard-to-heal sores and pimples. They may have a dry mouth and stained, broken, or rotting teeth (meth mouth).
  • They may also become paranoid and hear and see things that aren’t there.

It is this last point that seems to be the most prevalent and most concerning for rehab and addiction practitioners. An almost entrenched paranoia that seems to last for many months even though the toxic effects of the methamphetamine should, theoretically, no longer be present in the body.

The research

The link between crystal meth use and symptoms of paranoia is well known and well documented in the relevant literature. The real concern for practitioners in the rehab field is being able to differentiate what is crystal meth induced paranoia and what is possibly a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia or even bipolar mood disorder.

Several research groups, especially in Japan, have successfully studied methamphetamine-induced paranoia. These studies are well respected as the Japanese methamphetamine subculture is characterised by single use drug users- poly-drug (multiple substances) use has been uncommon. The results showed that a small percentage of meth users suffer from entrenched paranoia after at least 6 months of sobriety but there were a number of cases where even though people had been clean for many years there were still signs of paranoid delusions unrelated to a more severe psychiatric disorder.

Meth-induced psychosis sometimes presents in a similar way to paranoid schizophrenia and research has shown that at least 60 percent of people who use meth experience psychotic symptoms and syndromes.

What are the major signs of meth induced psychosis?

  • delusions
  • hallucinations,
  • paranoia, and sometimes
  • violent behaviour.

It is extremely difficult to differentiate hallucinations from what is real.

Prior to developing psychosis, a person who uses meth, may encounter a pre-psychotic state that is marked by delusional moods and ideas of reference or believing that everyday events have great personal significance. Delusions and hallucinations accompany full-blown psychosis.

People who are dependent on meth, who use high doses, who experienced childhood trauma, and/or who start taking the drug at a young age have an increased risk of having psychotic symptoms. The sleep deprivation that often accompanies meth use may aggravate these symptoms as well.

Other warning signs of crystal meth psychosis

  • Meth delusions: A person has strange, unrealistic, and/or false beliefs.
  • Meth hallucinations: Auditory, visual, or tactile hallucinations make a person hear, see, or feel things that don’t exist.
  • Meth paranoia: A person becomes extremely suspicious of those around them and may even believe that people are out to get them.

How long can these signs remain?

It is usually dependent on the physical characteristics of the individual as well as their level of mental health, and severity of drug use.

Meth psychosis may last several hours, and on average, a person typically recovers from it in one week. However, psychosis sometimes lasts for months and even years after a person stops using. Spontaneous flashback psychotic episodes may also be triggered by stress or by using the drug again.

The Treatment processes

Individuals experiencing meth psychosis may need some form of stabilisation in specialised health care facilities before coming to rehab.

At Crossroads we apply a combination of the 12-step programme as well as the traditional Crossroads treatment methodology, which involves group therapy, family support and individual counselling .

Individuals with a dual diagnosis and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, may be better served in an inpatient or residential treatment program until they are stable.

If you or a loved one needs assistance with an addiction to crystal meth– know that help is readily available. We have an experienced team which includes medical staff to assist with safe medical detox where necessary. The road to recovery is not always an easy one but getting yourself or your loved one the best possible care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centre, provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it’s only a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sexgamblingsubstancesalcohol or food, please contact us for a free assessment.

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