What Is Tweaking? – Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerful and highly-addictive stimulant that can have many adverse long-term effects on a user’s body and mind. Meth is a synthetic drug that, with the advent of other more effective and less dangerous prescription stimulants, now sees only minimal therapeutic use in rare cases of particularly stubborn ADHD or obesity.
Crystal meth is methamphetamine found in the form of a semi-transparent white or bluish rock-like crystal, which is heated and then smoked using a glass pipe. Less commonly, it may be snorted or injected. The desired effects of all forms of meth include increased energy, euphoria, and appetite suppression.
What Is Tweaking?
Tweaking is both a physiological and psychological condition that may occur following a meth binge, which can last for several days, in some cases. During a binge, the individual continues to use meth to delay the onset of the “comedown.” A comedown is a state characterized by the increasing loss of desired effects and the onset of highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
After extended use, the person is no longer able to achieve a high, and he or she begins “tweaking.” During this time, the individual will experience intense cravings that can no longer be satiated. At this point, psychotic symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, and other altered perceptions, may manifest.
When a user experiences a tweaking phase, this often compels many to seek and enter a detox and addiction treatment program, which can help them reduce withdrawal symptoms and expedite them on the path to stable sobriety. Those who do not will experience the full effects of a “crash” and be faced with days of continual sleep. After this crash comes a period that can last up to two weeks in which the person will be insatiably hungry, thirsty, and fatigued as their body tries to re-establish balance.
Short-Term Effects of Meth Use
Binge-pattern meth use can lead to insomnia, severe anxiety, and paranoia. Furthermore, thoughts of suicide or violence against others have been experienced by some users.
People that use meth are typically seeking to experience the instantaneous, long-lasting, and intense effects for which the drug has earned its notoriety. Because meth is a powerful stimulant, there is a near-immediate euphoric effect following exposure that can last up to 30 minutes. Following this is a significant increase in energy, motivation, confidence, and hyperalertness that can persist for up to 12 hours.
Unfortunately, however, the desirable high of meth rapidly gives way to the much less pleasant effects of its use. Even short-term use can lead to erratic and violent behavior when consumed in excessive doses.
Other side effects of meth include the following:
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Severe mood swings
- Unpredictable or erratic behavior
- Tremors or convulsions
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Irregular heart rhythm
When consumed over an extended period, meth can result in serious physical and psycho-emotional issues as acute effects increase in severity.
Signs and symptoms of long-term meth use may include the following:
- Persistent psychotic symptoms such as delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations
- Increasing mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety
- Social isolation
- Confusion and bizarre behavior
- The feeling of bugs crawling on or under the skin
- Body sores from skin-picking
- Breathing problems related to smoke inhalation
- Permanent damage to blood vessels, including those in the brain and heart
- Cardiac Arrest
Chronic meth use can also lead to outward signs of premature aging. Because the drug destroys tissues and blood vessels and undermines the body’s ability to heal, users often develop severe, unsightly acne and other skin blemishes, and the skin begins to lose its elasticity. This overall effect is what has been referred to in the media as “faces of meth.”
“Meth mouth” is another condition that is hallmarked by the widespread deterioration of the teeth and rampant gum disease.
Because meth use causes the brain to produce an increased amount of the feel-good chemical messager dopamine, the drug has a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Researchers believe that elevated dopamine activity plays a crucial role in the development of physiological addiction to many substances. Moreover, the enjoyable feelings produced by excessive levels of dopamine are so powerful and rewarding that this reinforces the behavior that was the instigator for its release.
As users build a tolerance to meth or another substance, they need increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effects, thereby continuing to fuel the body’s dependence and placing themselves at high risk for overdose.
After long-term use, dopamine receptor activity becomes impaired. It can cause the user to experience dysphoria (decreased pleasure and happiness in normal daily activities) and even result in permanent cognitive deficits.
Treatment for Meth Withdrawal and Addiction
Symptoms of withdrawal related to meth use may include the following:
- Intense drug cravings
- Loss of energy and fatigue
- Sleep disturbances and difficulties
- Increased appetite
Withdrawal from meth can be very unpleasant and may drive users to relapse to end their discomfort. However, a medically supervised detox program can ensure that symptoms are managed and relapse is prevented.
Residential or inpatient programs, such as those offered by Just Believe Recovery, are the next logical step. Long-term, comprehensive treatment can be very effective at helping people overcome an active addiction, as they allow individuals to focus on recovery with minimal distractions and triggers.
You can reclaim the life you deserve and experience long-lasting wellness and sobriety! Contact us as soon as possible and find out how we can help you, one step at a time!