Methamphetamine – meth for short-  is a very potent and dangerous drug. It acts as a stimulant on the brain and body, and temporarily increases feelings of euphoria, alertness and energy. These effects and its chemical properties make the drug highly addictive, while prolonged use of methamphetamine poses a serious risk to the user’s physical and social health.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of methamphetamine abuse and addiction. This will help you recognize if you (or a loved one) is in need of help to regain your (or their) health and well being. The path away from substance abuse can be difficult, but professional treatment can provide the necessary support for this journey.

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine is a man-made drug that affects the central-nervous system. It is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning its use comes with a high addiction risk. It is only legally available on a non-refillable prescription and most methamphetamine in use in the United States is obtained illegally.

Methamphetamine typically comes in two forms, as powder meth or as crystal meth, though the two are chemically identical.

Meth powder is white and bitter tasting, and meth users consume the drug through:

  • snorting
  • smoking
  • injecting powder that has been dissolved in water or alcohol
  • swallowing it (in pill form)

Crystal meth looks like shiny, clear rocks or glass fragments. It is often referred to as ‘ice’ or ‘glass’ and is known as a popular party drug. Users typically consume crystal meth by smoking it through a glass pipe.

After dosing, the effects of meth can last up to twelve hours, though this can be extended if meth is taken with other substances. Typical short-term effects of meth can include:

  • euphoric feelings
  • a ‘rush’
  • increased activity and attention
  • increased wakefulness
  • decreased appetite
  • rapid/irregular heart rate
  • body temperature dysregulation
  • aggression
  • insomnia
  • chest pain
  • muscle twitching
  • hallucinations
  • flushed skin

Understanding Meth Abuse:

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug and acts as a stimulant on the body. Other illegal stimulants include cocaine, amphetamines and crack. This class of drugs temporarily increase the user’s energy levels, sense of alertness, mood and feelings of pleasure or euphoria.

The ‘high’ from methamphetamines starts and drops quickly, leading people to take repeated doses, known as a meth binge, in a ‘binge and crash’ pattern. Some users take methamphetamine on a longer binge pattern known as a ‘run’. ‘Runs’ typically last several days, during which the user neither eats nor sleeps and continues to dose with methamphetamines every few hours.

The euphoric effect of methamphetamine is a strong factor in leading users into a dependence on the drug. The euphoric rush is caused by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical present in the human body that is responsible for feelings of pleasure, motivation and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors.

The amount of this neurotransmitter in the brain is increased during a methamphetamine high. The drug’s capacity to rapidly release high levels of dopamine propels further meth use, as the user desires to repeat the experience associated with reward and pleasure. Those with pre-existing mental health disorders are more likely to enter this spiral.

Methamphetamine is considered more dangerous than other stimulants. This is because a significant amount of the drug remains in the user’s brain and body following usage. With prolonged and repeated meth use, these traces of meth remaining in the user’s body can eventually alter their brain chemistry.

It causes damage to the brain cell synapses responsible for dopamine, leading to mood disturbances and dysregulation. These changes in the user’s brain chemistry affect the ability of the user to experience pleasure without use of methamphetamines, leading to the spiral of dependency characterizing meth addiction.

Methamphetamine addiction is a widespread and serious phenomenon in the United States today. Reportedly 964,000 people in the US had a meth use disorder in 2017, with studies suggesting that this number is rising each year.

It is important to be able to recognize the symptoms and signs of meth use and addiction. This will help you to begin to take positive action in you or your loved one’s life. Remember, with support and effective treatment plans, people can and do recover from methamphetamine addiction. The NPAC addiction center is here to support you on this journey past addiction.

Understanding Methamphetamines Today:

Meth use is on the rise according to SAMHSA and the rate of fatal overdoses from meth abuse has risen significantly. Use of methamphetamines is a large contributing factor to the ongoing drug abuse crisis in the United States today.

Most methamphetamine in the United States is either made in the US or in Mexico. It is often made in large illegal laboratories called ‘superlabs’. However it is also made in smaller labs or in home labs. Key chemical ingredients for the methamphetamine synthetic compound can be found in over-the-counter cold and cough medications, such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or in household goods such as battery acid and lighter fluid, increasing the risk associated with use of the drug.

Illicit meth can have dangerous impurities, as it is often cut with other drugs such as antidepressants or opioids. This can lead to toxic interactions between the different drugs in the user’s body. This increases the risk of side effects and heightens the possibility of an overdose in the user.

What Are the Effects, Symptoms and Signs of Meth Addiction?

There are a range of meth addiction symptoms which can be both physical, psychological or behavioral. Furthermore, chronic methamphetamine abuse can have serious long-term negative consequences on the user’s health.

Use of methamphetamines exhibits a range of psychological, physical and behavioral symptoms. It is important to be able to identify these symptoms as they can act as warning signs for the development of potential meth abuse in the future. These symptoms are clearest in those with an addiction to methamphetamines. This will help you to identify if someone you know is using, abusing or is addicted to methamphetamines, allowing you to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Physical Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine use can have clear effects on someone’s physical appearance. These changes can take place very quickly following the use of meth.  The following physical symptoms are associated with methamphetamine abuse:

  • increased heart rate, blood pressure and temperature
  • tremors
  • erratic twitching
  • scratching
  • red eyes
  • appetite loss
  • skin abrasions, bruises and sores
  • rapid weight loss
  • rotting teeth
  • inflamed gums (‘meth mouth’)
  • increased libido
  • convulsions

    Skin sores:

    Methamphetamines can cause problems with dry skin. This often becomes uncomfortable leading the user to scratch and pick at their skin. The scratching is often exacerbated by hallucinations, where the user has the impression that something is crawling over their skin.

    TOOTH AND GUM DAMAGE:

    This is often referred to as ‘meth mouth’. It is identifiable by inflamed, receding gums and crumbling, stained and rotting teeth.

    Increased libido:

    Meth causes an increase in libido and adrenalin, as well as general risk-taking tendencies. This increases the likelihood of engaging in unprotected sexual activity and the concurrent risk of sexually transmitted diseases. It is reported that there are higher than average rates of sexually transmitted diseases among people using meth.

    Longer-term risk factors:

    Prolonged meth use can have serious physical effects on the body. Health disorders that typically co occur with include:

  • organ failure
  • damage to blood vessels
  • collapsed veins (if injecting)
  • increased risk of stroke and heart attack
  • epilepsy
  • memory loss

Psychological Symptoms of Meth Addiction:

Meth has strong effects on a person’s psychology, which can become manifest in a variety of different ways.

Tweaking:

One of the clearest signs of meth use is known as ‘tweaking’. This is a period of intense anxiety and insomnia that lasts between 3 and 15 days. Tweaking occurs at the end of a meth use binge, once the drug has been used repeatedly over the binge period to the point where it is unable to produce a rush or high in the user’s body any more.

Tweaking has associated psychological effects, which include:

  • paranoia
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • hallucinations
  • violent tendencies

Crash phase:

As previously discussed, meth use produces an increase in the neurotransmitter dopamine. After repeated meth use or a binge the body is depleted of dopamine, leading to extreme fatigue. In the crash phase the person is likely to feel depressed and have prolonged periods of sleep. This can last from between 1 and 3 days.

Other Psychological Symptoms

Meth use is associated with a range of other psychological effects. Signs of meth abuse can include:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • inability to concentrate
  • memory loss
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • paranoia
  • intense mood swings
  • aggression
  • depression

Behavioral Symptoms of Meth Addiction:

Significant symptoms of meth addiction can be found in a person’s behavior. Meth addiction is likely to cause changes in a person’s life choices and priority-making. The physiological and addictive qualities of meth means that the drug is likely to become a major life priority for the user. Someone who is addicted to meth typically promotes meth-use as a primary priority in their life decisions. As a consequence, they will exhibit a loss of interest in things that they had previously found important, be that work, relationships, friendships, family or hobbies. With chronic addiction, meth is likely to hold an increasing amount of importance to a user’s life, with the disavowal of their prior interests becoming more evident.

Meth significantly changes how a person thinks, behaves and acts. It can have major consequences on their ability to live their life, as well as posing serious risks to their health. Importantly, addiction has been recognized as a mental health disorder. This allows addiction to be seen as an inability to control drug use, even though the effects of this drug use is having a negative impact on other aspects of a person’s life.

Signs of methamphetamine addiction will also manifest in a user’s personal life. It will alter their relationships with the people around them. Behavioral signs include:

  • increased dependency on the drug
  • obsession with getting the next dosage
  • lack of control over frequency of drug use
  • relationship problems with family and friends
  • neglect of previous interests and hobbies
  • lack of personal self-care
  • withdrawing from relationships and family members
  • involvement in criminal behavior

If after reading this you think that you or a loved one is displaying signs of methamphetamine addiction, remember that there are always addiction treatment options available.

Treatment at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic:

Meth is a very powerful drug with highly addictive qualities. Methamphetamine addiction is considered to be a mental illness – our NPAC treatment center offers addiction therapies to those who are seeking to find health again.

Medical professionals recommend that a person with a drug abuse disorder seeks support when trying to overcome their addiction. Withdrawal from meth and other substances is a very difficult process to go through, inducing a range of physical and psychological challenges. Our dedicated addiction treatment center has been developed to provide the necessary therapeutic environment for detox and withdrawal. Without this support, there is a significant chance of relapse.

Our addiction treatment facility has twenty-four hour support to ease you through withdrawal symptoms, which can include intense cravings, psychosis, depression and irritability. The treatment process aims to be as holistic as possible. We employ various therapy methods, such as:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Rapid Resolution Therapy
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

    We can help you start a positive journey away from addiction and into a place of mental health and well being. Contact us today to begin your new life in recovery.

Begin the first day of the rest of your life

To find out more contact our team

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine