Feeling a little down lately or like a bitch on wheels who can’t reach the brakes? Are the voices in your living room walls getting louder? If so – it’s time to talk mental health!!!
Paranoia, depression, mood swings, anxiety, and general emotional confusion can be pretty common with crystal users. Regular crystal use can certainly cause many of these problems. But some users already have mental health issues before they even start using. Many times it’s hard to tell which came first or what to do about it.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about crystal and mental health.
are the short-term impacts of crystal meth on brain
chemistry? Each time you get high, crystal
floods your brain with serotonin, (your happy "mood"
chemical) and dopamine (your "pleasure" chemical).
But once the crystal wears off, your serotonin and dopamine
levels drop, often below their normal levels. This is
why you feel so lousy, and often depressed, during your
crash. Given enough time between highs, most brains
will "restock" their normal chemical levels
naturally. But if you get high again, these levels will
surge back up and crash again.
are the long-term impacts of crystal meth on brain chemistry?
Over time, this yo-yoing may cause your brain to quit
restocking its own serotonin and dopamine. Your brain
starts to think, "Why waste time building these
chemicals when the next hit of speed will do it for
me." This triggers a drug craving and you may be
off getting high again. Over time, however, your serotonin
and dopamine levels may drop well below their normal
level and stay there. This is why many crystal users
become unable to experience feelings of happiness, satisfaction
or enjoyment without crystal. The more crystal and the
longer you use, the longer it may take for your mood
chemistry to stabilize at high enough levels.
addition, current brain research has shown that consistent
use of crystal over a long period of time can cause
significant and permanent damage to nerve endings that
help regulate certain brain chemicals and functions.
The hard questions to answer, however, are just how
much crystal does a person have to use and for how long
before this damage occurs? These answers are still unclear
and are likely to vary between users.
crystal make pre-exisiting mental health problems better
or worse? Many people already have mental
health issues before they start using crystal. Depression,
anxiety, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder
(link each one to the section below) are not uncommon.
There are two aspects to consider when talking about
crystals impact - the symptoms of mental health
problems and the root causes of these problems.
people discover that crystal provides relief from some
of their troubling symptoms. Maybe they feel less depressed
or less anxious while they are high, for example. So
in this way, many users would say crystal makes their
mental health symptoms "better." This is often
called "self-medicating." But this relief
is only temporary. Often the symptoms can rebound even
more strongly during or after the crash. So in this
case, crystal makes the symptoms "worse."
Also, for those with more serious mental health conditions
(i.e. schizophrenia or psychosis), their symptoms actually
get more severe when they get high.
is not a "cure" for mental health problems.
It cant fix the root causes of these problems.
In fact, using crystal regularly may only worsen the
underlying issues or mask them completely. Regular crystal
use can also interfere with your ability to take psychiatric
medications as prescribed. And crystal can have harmful
interactions with many psych meds as well. All of these
issues simply complicate mental health conditions.
does crystal interact with psych meds or anti depressants?
Crystal meth certainly interacts with plenty of psychiatric
medications. Some of these interactions may be severe
or even fatal. Therefore it is critical that you discuss
your crystal use with your health care provider so any
harmful combinations can be avoided.
there are many psych meds that interact with crystal,
some of the most common are anti-depressants:
Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOs) Nardil,
Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil
Tricyclic anti-depressants Elavil, Ventyl,
Norpramine, Desyrel, Tofranil
you have questions about any medication, ask your provider.
was told I cant get any mental health help until
I quit using crystal. Why? Because
being high, crashing, withdrawing (or the entire cycle)
can often look like lots of mental health symptoms.
Its often hard to tell which is which. Most mental
health providers need a "clean slate" so to
speak in order to assess whats really going on
with your symptoms. Are they simply being caused by
drug use or is something else going on? They want to
diagnose your condition accurately so they can treat
general, most providers will prefer you to be off crystal
for at least 6-8 weeks before they can reliably assess
and treat you. Each provider has different standards
about this. Many are willing to provide support while
you work at cutting down your crystal use. If you are
still using, providers may hesitate to prescribe a mental
health medication. The hesitation is about not wanting
to risk setting you up for harmful interactions between
prescribed drugs and methamphetamine.
mental health specialists understand that cutting down
or staying off drugs can be very difficult. Because
the issues connecting drug use and mental health are
so complex, it is important to be honest about your
drug use with your health care provider. Together you
can discuss strategies that may be helpful in addressing
think I need help. Where can I go? Community Info line at 303-866-3543.
If you are HIV poz, you may be eligible for free mental health services through Denver Health. Talk with your case manager or call Denver Health at 303-436-6000. Denver Health Network also provides mental health services at 303-837-1501.
Or you can get sliding scale fee services referred from the GLBT Center 303-733-7743