A man from New Orleans pled guilty at the end of last month to a federal charge for taking part in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine throughout the city. He was convicted of possession with intent to distribute and intent to distribute a minimum of 50 grams of meth.
The man reportedly worked with a man from Los Angeles to traffic meth into New Orleans for most of last year. Though shipments went through the mail and he reportedly had quite a few customers, he was caught at a routine traffic stop when officers smelled burnt marijuana coming from the car and searched the vehicle, finding about 52 grams of meth divvied up into 25 small baggies. A digital scale and syringes were also found.
The man will be sentenced in a couple of months and could spend anywhere from five years to 40 years in prison and pay a fine up to $5 million.
Is Meth a Problem in New Orleans?
So much attention is paid to heroin, fentanyl, and opiate addiction in the media that it can feel like no one is using drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and synthetic substances – at least not with any harmful effects that make it newsworthy.
The truth is that these drugs are all deadly in their own right. Regular use can be part of an addiction disorder, just like with any other substance, and can contribute to a sense of disconnection and isolation that makes it impossible to heal or function healthfully on any level.
If your loved one is using and abusing methamphetamine, do not feel like it is only happening to you. It is exceptionally common – so much so that there are a number of research-based treatment options that have proven to help individuals stop use of all substances and learn how to live in recovery.
Signs of Crystal Meth Abuse
It may be that you are seeing signs of addiction manifest in a number of different ways in your loved one – compulsive shopping, problem gambling, binge drinking – and you are concerned that crystal meth abuse may be another manifestation of the problem. Here are some of the signs to look for:
- Lack of appetite
- Rapid weight loss
- Rampant insomnia, especially staying up for days on end
- Dilated pupils
- Picking at the skin or hair (also, scars on the skin due to picking)
- Twitching, tics, big gestures, or jerky movements
- Talking incessantly
- Erratic behavior and explosive mood swings
- Lack of care for personal hygiene and appearance, or conversely, obsessive attention paid to personal hygiene and appearance
- “Tweaking,” or focusing long and hard on one activity
- Stealing or “borrowing” money and not paying it back
- Selling possessions and avoiding employment
- Hallucinations, paranoia, and psychosis, especially after days of being awake on a binge
Treatment Is Effective
Use of crystal meth on a regular basis can be indicative of an ongoing addiction disorder. While there are rarely any significant physical withdrawal symptoms that come with cessations of use, there are serious emotional and mental health withdrawal symptoms – namely, deep depression often characterized by fatigue, hopelessness, and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It can be difficult to get through the first days and weeks without use of the drug, but once stable and drug-free, the individual is able to begin the real work of recovery.
Addressing underlying trauma, co-occurring mental health disorders, and the perspectives and assumptions that drive certain patterns of behavior is key to detaching from addiction behaviors and beginning to live a fuller life in recovery. It takes time, therapeutic interventions, and medical monitoring, but it is well worth the effort.
If your loved one needs treatment, it may be your support and objective view that help them to recognize what they are facing. Letting them know that you see addiction as a medical and psychological disorder rather than a moral failing is the first step. Then, helping them to understand their treatment options and encouraging them with your support are the next steps. Lastly, letting them know that you will no longer enable their use of substances or any addiction behaviors going forward is an essential piece of the puzzle. It is important to make it clear that they will no longer be living comfortably in addiction – at least not with your help.
Are you ready to help your loved one connect to life-saving treatment?