Methamphetamine Addiction

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly addictive stimulant that causes addiction as quickly as the first time some users. This is largely due to the dopamine rush that is produced by using meth. For this reason, meth addiction treatment is necessary.

As a stimulant drug, meth increases actions in certain parts of the brain and causes the central nervous system’s increased functions. For example, respiration, blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature all rise when using meth. Focus, excitement, pleasure, energy, and attention are heightened as brain chemicals like dopamine increases. The dopamine rush produced by meth becomes higher than the natural amounts of dopamine, causing users to continue taking the drug to keep those pleasant feelings. Elevated dopamine levels produce such an intense high and the desire to recreate the feeling, making meth an extremely addictive drug.

Many people binge-use meth over multiple days, staying high the whole time. This causes tolerance to develop, making the user require higher doses to feel the same effects as before. The stimulant effects of meth, along with its cheap cost, lead users to quickly become dependent. It becomes impossible to feel happy when users stop taking meth, and the withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, depression, anxiety, and insomnia kick in once the high wears off. 

The discomfort of meth withdrawal causes abusive behavior and the likelihood of relapsing. Once the brain’s reward system becomes dependent on meth, the fear of cravings and withdrawal will often take over the user’s entire life. This is when a traditional rehab program will be required.

Understanding Meth

Meth vs. Crystal Meth

Most people addicted to meth use the drug in its illicit form, meth and crystal meth. Meth is a crystalline substance powder that is usually white but can also be brown, yellow, or pink. It’s bitter and odorless, and it can be dissolved in liquid form. It’s typically used through injection, smoking, or snorting. In some cases, meth is compressed in a pill form and taken orally. 

Crystal meth is clear or light blue and takes the shape of crystal form that is typically smoked. Many meth dealers will also cut the drug with other substances to stretch out the product for the same price and make more money.

While the two basic makeup variations are different, both Chris Thomas and mats are chemically the same. Street names for meth include:

  • Chalk
  • Crank
  • Crystal
  • Glass
  • Ice
  • Redneck cocaine
  • Tweak

Most meth distributed today is imported from illegal laboratories. Meth is typically cooked on the stovetops, where a few people will produce small amounts of the drug. Meth is also produced in cartel labs with professional-grade equipment to produce the drug at higher quality and quantities. These labs are extremely dangerous due to the gas and chemicals released during drug production that can become toxic and explosive.

The key ingredient in meth is usually the stimulant pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, found in some over-the-counter cold and cough medications. 

Meth Abuse

Any illegal use of meth qualifies as drug abuse. Meth creates a rush when injected or smoked, causing increased blood pressure, heart rate, and pleasure-inducing signals to the brain. When meth is snorted, it creates a euphoric feeling, but not a rush. The rush from injection delivers the strongest effects, with the high lasting about 30 minutes. After the immediate rush, meth users experience a constant high lasting between eight and 24 hours, depending on the consumption. Injecting meth creates a stronger high than snorting or smoking, but the effects wear off quicker. Meth users normally stay up for many days in a row, binging on the drug and chasing the stimulating effects.

Some common effects of meth consumption include:

  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Alertness
  • Confusion
  • Elation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Talkativeness
  • Tremors
  • Weight loss

When meth is combined with other drugs like alcohol or cocaine, an adverse reaction and potential overdose become greatly increased. Long-term meth use can also cause dramatic damage to the brain and cells that produce dopamine and the nerve cells containing serotonin.

Long-Term Effects of Meth Addiction

Prolonged meth use can damage the brain and its production to produce dopamine and the nerve cells that carry serotonin. Long-term meth use can produce severe emotional and cognitive issues, which include:

  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Anxiety
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Trouble verbally learning and memory
  • Violent outbursts
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Distractibility
  • Mood disturbances
  • Motor, movement, and coordination issues

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Meth withdrawal symptoms will vary for each person based on how heavily and frequently it was used. The method the drug was used also affects the withdrawal symptoms, with those injecting meth having more severe withdrawal effects, which include:

  • Acute psychological symptoms
  • Apathy
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased Appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Suicidal Thoughts

How Meth Affects the Brain

Since meth is a stimulant, it affects the central nervous system. Meth use affects dopamine levels in the brain, causing a surge of neurotransmitters that interrupts normal functioning. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for feeling memory functions, motivation and pleasure, learning, movement, and reward processing. In summary, meth makes users feel good, which makes them want to maintain the feeling.

Using meth frequently can build up a tolerance that will require the user to take higher doses to feel the same effects as they previously did. It may become challenging to be happy without meth, and withdrawal symptoms like depression, increased appetite, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, and possibly psychosis can occur when it wears off. This is called substance addiction, which forms rather quickly with consistent meth abuse and even quicker with binge use and increasing dosages.

Once addiction becomes present, the brain functions start to change its circuitry and chemical makeup. Compulsive drug-seeking behaviors and the inability to control how often and much meth is taken can transpire. This inability to manage meth use, coupled with the brain’s changes, are some of meth addiction’s primary signs.

Short-Term Effects of Meth Addiction

Short-term side effects of a meth addiction also involve the possibility of a life-threatening overdose. The consequences of meth use to the central nervous system and heart can overwhelm the system and cause stroke, high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, kidney failure, heart attack, agitation, difficulties breathing, coma, seizures, and even death. When meth is combined with other substances, the possibility of a dangerous reaction and potential overdose increases greatly.

Statistics of Meth Abuse

  • Meth costs America $550 million in meth addiction treatment programs every year.
  • A study in 2017 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health stated that 1.6 million U.S. citizens reported using meth in the previous year
  • In 2017, an estimated 964,000 people across the nation aged 12 and older had a meth use disorder.

Meth Addiction Treatment

Meth use causes long-term damage to the brain. Quitting will require a detox, followed up by a comprehensive meth addiction treatment program. With proper treatment, patients will learn to manage the negative effects of repeated meth abuse while healing disruptions to the brain to prevent relapse on an Outpatient Treatment basis.

Because of tolerance, meth users will increase their usage to higher and more frequent doses, opening the window to severe addiction. A high level of addiction means that withdrawal systems will be very uncomfortable. Therefore, medical detox will be needed to manage those withdrawal symptoms by purging the body of drugs. By doing this, patients will have an increased chance of a successful recovery.

The sooner someone receives meth addiction treatment, the more reliable the recovery becomes. Meth is a highly addictive drug, and the emotional lows coupled with the rigorous drug cravings make the risk of relapse highly likely. Once the patient has completed detox, the treatment process will begin. Usually, a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is recommended to ensure a successful recovery. Residents will visit the treatment center for as long as 90 days for a successful meth addiction recovery. Treatment allows new brain connections to develop while teaching relapse prevention techniques to manage cravings. 

Therapy and Support Groups

Behavioral therapy is an excellent form of meth addiction treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is practiced in individual and group sessions to teach patients coping tools, communication, stress management, and other life skills. These Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) can help with maintaining sobriety while improving thinking and behavior patterns. 

Other forms of meth addiction group therapy programs like support groups and 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can connect people with their peers who can relate and offer support, encouragement, and advice on remaining sober. Family therapy, individual counseling, and educational programs also boost a meth addiction recovery.

Rock Recovery Center for Meth Addiction Recovery

Meth addiction is very difficult to endure, but treatment does work, and recovery is possible. Rock Recovery Center can help if you or a loved one has already completed detox and some form of early meth addiction treatment. Breaking the cycle of meth addiction is possible with the right treatment program. Do not hesitate any longer.

Contact us today at Rock Recovery Center to speak with a representative who can answer your meth addiction treatment questions and program options.