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Incredibly addictive, and also one of the most destructive substances a person can put into their body, even recreational users of crystal meth are at great risk for dependency and personal tragedy. The long term health effects of crystal meth abuse are an extremely accelerated aging of the body and mind, a ruined appearance, and a severe and lasting period of psychological depression and despair. Of all the drugs out there, crystal meth is arguably the most dangerous and destructive, and it's also increasingly used by American teens today.

A recent commissioned study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) puts the number of teens experimenting with the drug at about 3%, which is significantly higher than previous studies had indicated. Because the drug is so addictive and so incredibly destructive, the key to successful treatment and abstinence is early intervention; and parents need to be aware of the dangers presented by meth use, and on the lookout for characteristic signs of abuse.

Meth use and abuse cannot be tolerated, and parents who have any suspicions of use need to get immediate professional help and intervention.

Some Signs of Meth Use

The following signs do not necessarily indicate meth use, but they may be considered strong evidence of experimentation or abuse. Parents cannot ignore warning signs of abuse, and teens need immediate intervention should they be experimenting with crystal meth.

Parents should be concerned if they observe:

  • Very unusual sleeping patterns. Kids using meth may stay awake for days straight and then sleep for days on end…this is not normal adolescent behavior. Teens that seem incredibly alert and energized even after having been up all night may well be using meth.
  • Nervous tics or behaviors. Scratching at the skin or twitching are warning signs of meth usage.
  • Loss of appetite and extreme weight loss. Meth users often avoid food, and as a result become emaciated.
  • Burns on the lips or fingers. Kids using meth often smoke it out of a pipe than get very hot.
  • Lying and withdrawal. If your teen is suddenly always lying or secretive about behaviors and no longer wants to spend any time with family or old friends, this can be as a result of meth usage.
  • Sudden carelessness about appearance. Teens always care about how they look, even if their choices of dress seem odd to you. If your teen is no longer concerned about personal hygiene or dress, they may be experimenting with meth.
  • Aggressive or violent behaviors. Meth can induce uncharacteristic behaviors of aggression or violence, even in previously peaceful kids. This is also not a normal behavior of adolescence.
  • Missing valuables or money from the home. Although meth is priced at a level conducive to experimentation and recreational use, heavy meth use can get very expensive, especially as a teen develops a tolerance or dependency. Missing valuables may be sold to fund an increasing need for drugs.

The Risks of Crystal Meth for Teens

Few drugs can derail a promising future faster than crystal meth. Heavy crystal meth use destroys the appearance and the teeth, and a few years of meth use can add decades to a person's face. The lasting psychological despair and depression induced by a meth addiction can endure for years even after meth use has stopped, and some people can never recover completely from their meth addiction.

Meth is extremely addictive, even occasional recreational users are at great risk for dependency and addiction.

Meth use damages the organs and the heart, and greatly increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. Additionally, cognitive functions, including memory are extremely distorted by meth use, and a few years of meth use can induce severe cognitive and memory impairments.

Meth use also puts addicts at a greatly increased risk for HIV and other STDs, for involvement in the criminal justice system, and for exposure to violent assaults.

Meth destroys the body, the mind and the soul; and does it faster than any other drug of abuse.

Intervention and Treatment

The earlier intervention and treatment ensues, the better the eventual probability of success and sobriety. Because of the dangers, parents who suspect meth use or abuse cannot wait before acting, and need to get their teen into treatment as soon as possible.

Teens do best in treatment specific to teens, and with age appropriate therapy and true peer support groups. Teenage meth treatment needs to be intensive and long lasting, and needs to occur on an inpatient basis, away from access to meth.

Teens do not need to consent to treatment or even to a need for treatment for it to be effective, and many reluctant participants in therapy come to see the value of drug treatment only after achieving sobriety and through intensive therapeutic participation.

The single greatest predictor for success in teen drug treatment is extensive family support and involvement, and parents and siblings need to participate fully in all offered family counseling and educational seminars.

Meth is very scary, very destructive and even a short period of abuse can have health repercussions for life. Meth addiction can also be beaten, and people are overcoming meth addictions everyday. There is always hope for a better future, and parents need to make sure they stay involved, stay alert, and get their kids any needed treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

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Page last updated Nov 03, 2010

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