Methamphetamine Abuse

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Methamphetamines are a type of illegal drug. It is also called meth, crystal meth, or speed. Meth is usually smoked. It can also be sniffed, injected, swallowed, or put into the rectum.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • You can overdose on meth. This happens when you take more meth than your body can handle. You can overdose even when you use a small amount of meth. You can lose consciousness, have a seizure, and your heart may stop beating. This can be life-threatening.

  • You may become dependent on meth. This is when you need to use more meth, or use it more often, to get the same effects. You may change the way you use meth, such as from snorting to injecting, to get a stronger form of the drug. Your body may get used to the amount of meth you use. This is called tolerance. You may be unable to stop using it. When you try to stop using meth, you may have withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings for the drug.

  • Your heart may not be able to pump correctly. You can have a heart attack, kidney failure, seizure, or stroke. Blood vessels in the body or brain can burst, causing bleeding and death. Your airway can swell up and narrow if you inhale meth, which makes it hard to breathe. This may also cause you to stop breathing. You may be more likely to kill yourself because of depression and anxiety. Meth use can also make you want to hurt or kill other people.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Psychiatric assessment:

Caregivers will ask if you have a history of psychological trauma, such as physical, sexual, or mental abuse. They will ask if you were given the care that you needed. Caregivers will ask you if you have been a victim of a crime or natural disaster, or if you have a serious injury or disease. They will ask you if you have seen other people being harmed, such as in combat. You will be asked if you drink alcohol or use drugs at present or in the past. Caregivers will ask you if you want to hurt or kill yourself or others. How you answer these questions can help caregivers decide on treatment. To help during treatment, caregivers will ask you about such things as how you feel about it and your hobbies and goals. Caregivers will also ask you about the people in your life who support you.

Medicines:

  • Activated charcoal: If you swallowed meth, you may be given activated charcoal to help absorb the drug in your stomach. You may vomit.

  • Sedative: This medicine is given to help you stay calm and relaxed.

  • Antipsychotics: Antipsychotics may be given to decrease thoughts that people are trying to hurt you. This medicine may help prevent you from seeing or hearing things that are not there.

  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants can decrease feelings of depression. This medicine may also decrease your drug cravings and help you want to stay in a treatment program.

  • Blood pressure medicine: This is given to lower your blood pressure. A controlled blood pressure helps protect your organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Take your blood pressure medicine exactly as directed.

Tests:

  • Blood, urine, and hair tests: Caregivers may test your blood, urine, or hair to check for meth abuse. You may also be tested for HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.

  • Newborn meconium test: Caregivers may test the meconium of your newborn baby to check for meth abuse. Meconium is your newborn baby's first bowel movement.

  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.

Mental health treatments:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you change your thinking and behavior. It can help you manage depression and anxiety caused by meth use. CBT can help you learn good coping skills and ways to manage stress. CBT can be done with you and a talk therapist or in a group with others.

  • Family therapy and support groups: Your friends and family may be asked to attend treatment sessions with you. Support groups are meetings with a talk therapist and other people who have used meth or other drugs. Programs near where you live may support your choice to quit using drugs. Ask caregivers for information about programs in your town.

Burn treatments:

If you are burned while making meth, you may need the following treatments:

  • Fluid replacement: You may become dehydrated if you are badly burned. You may need IV fluids to replace what has been lost.

  • Wound treatment: Your wounds may need to be cut open and drained, or covered with medicine and bandages.

  • Endotracheal tube: If your lungs are damaged from inhaling chemicals, you may need help to breathe. An endotracheal tube (ET) tube may be put into your mouth or nose. It goes down into your windpipe to help keep your airway open and help you breathe. It may be hooked to a ventilator (breathing machine), and you may get extra oxygen through your ET tube. You will not be able to talk while the ET tube is in place.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Methamphetamine Abuse (Inpatient Care)

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