Crystal methamphetamine, otherwise known as ice or meth, is one of the most pervasive and destructive substances facing society today. In fact, the 2016 National Drug Survey revealed that 6.3% of Australians (around 1.7 million) over the age of 14 claimed to have used ice at least once. That’s 1 in 70 people in the country using ice.
Don’t let public service announcements fool you. Not all ice users look like the stereotypical vision of a skinny, shambling, aggressive addict. Ice addiction comes in many forms and can affect people in a range of different ways.
For one, many ice addicts consider themselves to be ‘high functioning’. This is a common myth that is parroted by both users and loved ones in denial. In truth, ice addiction manifests itself in a range of negative physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual effects, all of which can be detrimental to a person. There is no such thing as a high functioning addict.
Ice addiction treatment responds to this by using models that address all facets of addiction. Any and all manifestations of ice abuse can be treated in this way. However, before treatment can begin, there are several important, hidden signs of ice addiction that must be identified.
Physically, there’s plenty that goes under the radar. For instance, many addicts have less outward physical symptoms, like dental problems and track marks. Internally, they may have extensive organ damage and cardiovascular problems. Meth encourages chemical imbalances in the brain, and can completely restructure how the brain functions, leading to lifelong problems.
This can weigh heavily on the psychological symptoms of ice addiction. These manifestations will depend largely on the user. Common effects include delusions, paranoia, fear, and psychosis. Other, more hidden effects include substance-induced mood disorders that will continue to ebb and flow over the course of the addiction.
These psychological effects come with a range of emotional impacts on an ice user. Anger and rage are common amongst addicts, and some of the key messages imparted by medical and government sources. However, hidden emotional responses, like shame, depression, and anxiety, are just as common, and equally as impactful.
As emotions are affected and heightened as a result of continued abuse, ice users will often seek to withdraw from others. This can lead to a range of social effects. These begin with the addict becoming more and more detached from loved ones, leading to family problems, or romantic and sexual issues. An increase in risky behaviour can cause ongoing damage to these relationships. Further withdrawal can see an addict lose any and all interest in pastimes and pursuits outside of the substance.
Finally, when all other facets of life have been affected by ice addiction, a person’s spiritual life suffers damage. In this sense, spirituality is a manifestation of a person’s relationship with oneself. Damage to this relationship can lead to a range of tragic effects, including ruined self-worth, and destroyed self-confidence. These are hidden issues that may never be apparent to concerned loved ones surrounding the addict.
A damaged relationship to the self can continue to manifest in negative ways. For example, long term addicts often record a complete inability to function without the use of ice. This leads to permanent, ongoing use, despite the negative consequences and effects listed above. This is the absolute worst place to be for an addict.
Fortunately, these signs and symptoms can be treated. Holistic ice addiction treatment looks at an individual’s entire self, and prescribes treatment plans to tackle the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual effects of the disease.