Meth Mouth: How Methamphetamine Affects Your Teeth
What is Meth Mouth?
“Meth mouth” is a term used to describe the unpleasant oral disease that meth use can cause. It is an irreversible condition that is expensive to treat.
Methamphetamine, also known as crystal, meth, ice, glass, and speed is a highly addictive, central nervous system stimulant drug that can be smoked, injected, ingested orally, or snorted. At first, taking the drug will:
- Decrease your appetite
- Increase your activity
- Enhance your sociability and talkativeness
- Give you feelings of pleasure and an overall sense of well-being
It provides a sense of euphoria, as dopamine levels in the brain are quickly increased in a short-lived rush. There is a “crash” that occurs quickly after use, causing users to take more of the drug to maintain their high as long as possible, resulting in binges that can last days. People will stop eating, sleeping, and performing everyday activities just to take more meth. After some time, meth users will stop being able to feel normal unless they are on the drug, further perpetuating the cycle of abuse. In the context of recovery from meth, understanding what is transfer addiction becomes vital. Transfer addiction occurs when an individual, after ceasing their use of one substance, develops new addictive behaviors or dependencies on other substances or activities as a means of coping with the void left by the original addiction. This phenomenon underscores the need for comprehensive treatment plans that address not only the physical aspects of addiction but also the psychological and behavioral components, ensuring that recovery is sustainable and holistic.
Some of the common signs of meth addiction are:
- Having strong cravings to take more meth
- Developing a tolerance to meth, and needing to take more to achieve the same high
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using meth
- Being unable to cut back or quit using meth, even if you really want to
- Ignoring life responsibilities, social activities, and hobbies in favor of meth use
- Continuing to use meth even when it begins to negatively affect your life, health, and relationships
A person who is using meth may:
- Exhibit aggressive or chaotic behavior and mood swings
- Have fast, rambling speech and excessive energy
- Have changes in eating and sleeping habits, with significant weight loss
- Be spending time with new friends or in isolation
- Scratch their skin until there are sores
- Have dilated pupils
- Have nosebleeds, burns, and/or track marks from meth use
Tooth decay is also one of the signs that a person has been using meth for a long period of time. This is likely caused by long periods of dry mouth (xerostomia) caused by meth use, which decreases the amount of natural protection the mouth can provide to maintain tooth enamel.
Because meth also takes over people’s lives, many people stop including basic hygienic practices in favor of using more drugs, resulting in long-term poor oral hygiene. Users also crave sweets and sugary carbonated beverages and may grind or clench their teeth, wearing the teeth down and causing additional stress that can harm the teeth. Combine all of this with a lack of consistent medical and mental health care care, and drug-induced psychological and physiological issues, and you will see why meth mouth is a common issue surrounding meth use.
According to a study done by the American Dental Association on the effects of methamphetamine use on dental health, meth causes severe tooth decay and gum disease. There is a direct correlation between the amount of meth a person uses, and the severity of issues like broken teeth and tooth decay. The study looked at 571 meth users and found that:
- 96% had cavities in their teeth
- 58% had untreated tooth decay
- 31% were missing six or more teeth
Meth mouth is an unfortunate inevitability for most meth users, especially those who use the drug continuously, or for those who have been using meth for over one year.
Symptoms of Meth Mouth
The symptoms of meth mouth include:
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- Cottonmouth/dry mouth
- Craving sugary food and drinks
- Cavities in the teeth
- Stained or blackened teeth
- Rotting or crumbling teeth
- Gum disease with red, swollen gums
- Missing teeth
- Inconsistent oral hygiene
Meth mouth is not curable, and will likely result in needing extensive dental work, along with tooth extraction to avoid infection, pain, and other long-term issues.
Effects of Long-Term Meth Abuse
Methamphetamine is an addictive drug that can cause severe health consequences. Along with tooth issues and gum disease, long-term meth abuse can also cause issues like:
- Extreme weight loss
- Sores and skin infections
- Formication (feeling like insects are crawling under your skin)
- Cardiovascular issues
- Permanent brain damage and memory loss
Meth is also the cause of two psychological issues:
1. Psychosis – meth can cause drug-induced psychosis, with symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and repetitive actions
2. Anhedonia – meth can permanently change the reward centers in the brain to make it impossible to enjoy the things that used to be pleasurable, creating a lack of interest in anything but more meth
Can Meth Mouth Be Treated?
Meth mouth is not reversible, so the treatments given are for maintenance and repairing the damage that has been done. Many people with meth mouths will need:
- Implementation of good oral hygiene
- Regular dentist visits
- Tooth extractions
- Implants or oral surgery
The best way to stop meth mouth before it begins is to quit using meth immediately, in a safe and effective detox and rehabilitation program. At Resurgence, we can help you stop using meth for good through our integrated continuum of care in our detox and drug rehab programs, followed by outpatient treatment and other aftercare support.
Resurgence Drug Rehab for Meth
The first step in stopping meth use is to speak with a professional. At Resurgence, in order to place you into the proper detox and rehab program, we first do an intake interview, along with a medical screening and a psychological evaluation to find out which treatments you will need. This is important, as meth use can be triggered by mental health issues, and it can cause physical issues that need to be treated alongside the addiction.
Detox is the next step. It is important to have strong inpatient medical care during the first weeks of treatments, as stopping meth can cause seizures and suicidal ideation in many individuals, an overdose can occur if the patient relapses.
At Resurgence, our medically assisted treatment (MAT) program is an integrated detox program, in which our patients stay in a sober, comfortable room with 24-hour medical care available. We not only provide prescription medications for those who need them, but we also have therapists, nursing staff, and counselors coming in from day one to ensure your physical health, mental health, and emotional health are taken care of as you detox.
You do not need to suffer or become traumatized by this difficult period. At Resurgence, our caring staff will treat you as a whole person as you detox, not just “another addict” who needs to “get through it”. You are worthy of respect and kindness, and our staff will do all they can to ensure you remain safe and comfortable as your body removes the toxins meth has created.
Quitting meth may be difficult as it creates a strong psychological dependence, as well as the variety of physical health issues it can trigger. For this reason, a 30 to 90-day stay in inpatient rehab is recommended for rehabilitation from meth use.
Inpatient rehab is a type of rehabilitation program in which you live inside a treatment center full-time, living in a shared or private room, with full days of therapy, counseling, groups, education, and other programs that will help you:
- Find and treat the underlying causes of your addiction
- Address mental health issues you may have
- Gain a new perspective on life and learn new ways of thinking about the world
- Learn about addiction, your body, and the best ways to avoid relapse in the future
- Gain new coping skills and beneficial behaviors to help you remain healthy and sober long term
At Resurgence, we offer therapy like:
- Behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Experiential therapy
We also have programs that include:
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Physical fitness and nutritional counseling
- Relapse prevention training
- Life skills and vocational training
Our facility is comfortable, safe, and sober. We have onsite chefs who cook healthy, fresh food, and you can access workout equipment, games, and other recreational activities as you relax in your downtime. We are a pet-friendly facility, and smoking is allowed in designated areas. With our welcoming environment, peer support, comfortable accommodations away from your everyday triggers and stresses, you will be able to fully concentrate on your own healing, gaining a new perspective on things as you begin down your road to recovery.
There are several levels of outpatient rehab we provide at Resurgence. Outpatient care can be for those who are transitioning from inpatient rehab back to their lives, or it can be provided initially for those who cannot be away from their home/work/school for a full 30-90-day inpatient program. Our team will help you figure out which type of rehab is right for you.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
This is usually a short-term (2-week) program to help those moving from inpatient rehab into a fully outpatient program. Patients do not live inside the facility but commute in for full days of treatments up to 7 days a week.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
This is a flexible outpatient program with multiple hours of treatments given several days per week, but scheduled around the patient’s life, work, and school schedules, allowing patients to return to normal life, living at home, but with full support and care in the evenings or on weekends.
Outpatient/Aftercare Program (OP)
The OP is for those who have completed their IOP, allowing the patient to return to life as usual, with therapy appointments and doctor care continuing as needed, and ongoing access to alumni, 12-step, and SMART recovery groups.
For more information on meth rehab in your area, and how we can help you stop using meth for good, contact us at Resurgence today. We are only a phone call away and are happy to help you figure out what your next step should be.
— Resurgence Behavioral Health (@RBHRecovery) January 25, 2022
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