Methamphetamine Addiction and Treatment

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. It is often referred to as crystal meth. The name is derived from the crystal- or glass-like appearance of the drug. It is highly lustrous and resembles shards of glass or crystal that have a bluish-white coloring.

Chemically, methamphetamine is very similar to amphetamine, which is its parent drug. Amphetamine was created for therapeutic reasons, as a way to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Both drugs increase concentration, improve mood, and cause a number of other positive effects, including euphoria and a heightened sense of well-being. Methamphetamine is different than amphetamine, however, because it is much more potent. Furthermore, the effects last much longer and the effects to the central nervous system are much more severe. It is because of these characteristics of methamphetamine that it is such a highly addictive drug and so widely abused.

Facts About Methamphetamine

Meth, as mentioned, is a highly addictive stimulant drug. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified this drug as a Schedule II stimulant. It is estimated that some 14 million Americans have used this type of drug at least one time in their lives.

Methamphetamine goes by a number of other names. Meth and crystal meth are two of the most commonly used names for this drug; however, other names include:

  • Crystal
  • Ice
  • Blade
  • Glass
  • Quartz
  • Speed
  • Tweak
  • Crank
  • Beanies
  • Wash
  • Shards
  • Mexican crack
  • Crypto

There are several different ways that meth can be taken. The drug can be broken down into powder, burned, and the smoke can be inhaled. The powder can also be snorted through the nose or dissolved with a mixture of water or alcohol and injected directly into the veins. It can also be taken orally in a pill form.

While meth offers an intense high, the effects set in quickly and fade fast. As a result, those who use this drug tend to do so repeatedly in order to recreate the feelings the positive feelings that it offers. This is referred to as a “binge and crash” pattern of usage. Just like any other drug, with repeated use, the likelihood of developing a dependency increases. Add to that the fact that the meth is such a strong drug and it’s no wonder why it is so highly addictive. It is estimated that some 24.7 million people use and abuse this drug annually, worldwide.

The Effects of Methamphetamine on the Brain

Methamphetamine boosts the amount of dopamine the brain naturally produces. This chemical is responsible for a variety of functions, including motivation, movement, reinforcement, and reward behaviors. Because meth has the ability to release a high amount of dopamine in the reward center of the brain, using the drug increased the desire to take it. As a result, users feel like they want to continue taking it in order to experience the positive effects that it offers.

Meth has both short-term and long-term effects on the brain. Short-term effects, even in small doses, are similar to the effects of other stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamine. In the short-term, these effects on the brain include:

  • An increased feeling of alertness and strength
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heightened blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • A decreased desire to eat

In the long-term, the effects of methamphetamine use can be extremely detrimental to a user’s health. These side effects can include:

  • Severe oral health issues, including tooth decay and tooth loss (a condition that has been coined “meth mouth”)
  • Extreme, unintended weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Mental confusion
  • Severe itching, which can become so intense the user can break his or her skin as a result of excessive scratching
  • Sleep disorders
  • Marked irritability
  • Extremely aggressive behavior
  • Intense paranoia
  • Hallucinations

In addition to these adverse long-term effects of meth use, continued use of the drug can drastically alter the dopamine system within the brain, which can lead to balance and coordination issues, as well as learning delays.

Signs of Meth Abuse and Addiction

There are a number of signs that can indicate that someone is using, abusing, and addicted to methamphetamine. If you notice that a loved one is exhibiting any of the following signs, there is a chance that he or she may have a problem with meth:

  • Skin picking and skin sores
  • Changes in behavior
  • Violent mood swings
  • Sleep issues
  • Extreme distrust in others or feelings that the world is out to get him or her (paranoia)
  • Seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Drastic changes in physical appearance, such as extreme weight loss and dental health problems

Treatment for Meth Addiction

If you or someone you love is addicted to methamphetamine, seeking professional help is extremely important. Extremely unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms can occur when a person stops using this drug. The effects of withdrawal can include extreme anxiety, severe fatigue, depression, violent mood swings, intensive cravings for the drug, and even psychosis.

Because of the effects of withdrawal, medically supervised detox is highly recommended. This can be offered at a detox center, a hospital, or an inpatient facility. After detox is completed, patients should receive therapy and counseling to help them overcome their addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be highly beneficial for the treatment of meth addiction. They should also receive ongoing support to prevent the risk of relapse.

There are several types of treatment facilities available for meth addiction. Examples include inpatient rehab, intensive outpatient rehab, and long-term care. Depending on the individual’s living situation, a stay at a recovery house or a sober living facility might be recommended in order to improve the chances of maintaining sobriety once rehab has been completed.

Find Help for Meth Addiction: Contact Us Today

Take back control of your life. Get the help you need for meth addiction today. Contact us today and we will help you find a reputable treatment center that will meet your needs and improve your chances of sobriety.