Meth addiction is a widespread problem in the U.S. Every year, well over a million people misuse meth (methamphetamine) at least once.
And tens of thousands of those users will go on to develop symptoms of addiction.
If you or your loved one are addicted to meth, you must seek expert help to support your recovery.
Without this kind of professional assistance, you have little chance of getting your drug use under control.
However, with help, you can establish and maintain sobriety. That is true no matter how heavily you’re affected by meth addiction.
Here is what you need to know to activate your recovery plan.
Methamphetamine belongs to the family of substances known as stimulants.
Stimulants get their name because they stimulate or increase activity in your central nervous system.
This increase in activity produces a range of effects, including:
Meth and other stimulants also produce something called euphoria.
Euphoria is a powerful sensation of pleasure inside your brain. This pleasure can far outweigh the feelings you get from other pleasurable activities.
Meth exists as both a prescription medication and a street drug. The prescription name of legally produced meth is Desoxyn.
On rare occasion, a doctor might prescribe this medication as a legitimate treatment. The two condition sometimes treated with Desoxyn are:
The vast majority of the meth available in the U.S. is illegally produced. Roughly 1.6 million Americans consume this illegal drug each year. Street meth goes by a wide variety of nicknames, including:
Many people start smoking meth. Users can also swallow, inject or inhale the drug.
Even without considering addiction, meth use is dangerous for a variety of reasons. First, users of the drug can develop harmful changes in their normal thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
These changes can include such things as:
Long-term users of the drug can also experience weight loss and lasting changes in their brain structure. In addition, they can develop severe dental issues.
These issues, known as “meth mouth,” can include broken teeth, advanced tooth decay and tooth loss.
If you take too much meth at one time, you can also overdose. An overdose occurs when the drug overwhelms key organs in your body.
Potential overdose symptoms include:
Meth overdoses can be fatal. In fact, thousands of Americans die each year after overdosing on meth or other stimulants.
Meth addiction occurs when your brain gets used to the changes triggered by the drug. Once this happens, you’re dependent on methamphetamine.
In other words, you’ll need to keep taking the drug to feel “normal” and avoid going into withdrawal.
Doctors diagnose meth addiction as part of a larger condition called stimulant use disorder. This condition also includes symptoms of cocaine and amphetamine addiction.
In addition, it includes serious symptoms of non-addicted meth, cocaine and amphetamine abuse.
Methamphetamine is well-known for its ability to produce addiction in users.
In fact, you can get addicted to it quicker than you can get addicted to many other substances. A couple of facts help explain this reality.
First, relatively high amounts of meth reach your brain every time you use the drug. In addition, meth’s brain effects last for a relatively long time.
This means that repeated use of meth can lead to a rapid development of drug dependence.
There are 11 possible symptoms of meth-related stimulant use disorder.
You don’t need to have many of these symptoms to get diagnosed with the condition. In fact, you only need to have two of them within the span of a year.
If you have two or three symptoms, you have a mild form of stimulant use disorder. If you have four or five symptoms, you have a moderate form of the condition.
People with six or more symptoms have severe stimulant use disorder. Meth addiction symptoms can overlap with meth abuse symptoms.
The potential symptoms of meth addiction/abuse are:
Withdrawal is your brain’s response to not getting as much meth as it expects to receive. Possible symptoms of withdrawal include:
Many of the symptoms of meth withdrawal will disappear within a few days. However, serious cravings for the drug can continue for a month or more.
Meth addiction can be difficult to treat. That’s true, in part, because of the way that long-term use of the drug alters your brain.
Meth doesn’t just change your brain’s chemical environment. Over time, it actually changes the structure of your brain tissues.
Unfortunately, one of the altered brain areas is responsible for helping you make logical decisions. Anther affected area is responsible for helping you control your habitual behaviors.
Together, these changes can make it much harder for you to overcome your meth addiction symptoms. Despite this fact, you can recover from your addiction with the right treatment.
Effective meth addiction treatment begins with a period of supervised detoxification, or detox.
This is the time when you stop using the drug and go through the symptoms of withdrawal.
There are no medications available to help you detox from meth. Instead, your doctor will monitor your condition and take steps to make you as comfortable as possible.
During this time, you may also:
Meth detox leaves you in a stable physical condition. It also prepares you for primary addiction treatment.
The proven treatment option for meth addiction is behavioral psychotherapy. There are several forms of this therapy available, including:
Each of these therapies aids your recovery in unique ways. For example, CBT helps you change thoughts and behaviors that make you more likely to use meth.
The Matrix Model uses a mixture of techniques to help you avoid a meth relapse. Twelve-step facilitation shows you how to add a self-help group to your recovery plan.
Contingency management rewards you for following your plan and meeting treatment goals. Different types of behavioral therapy can work together during the treatment process.
For this reason, you may receive two or more forms of therapy while enrolled in your program.
It is always better to seek meth addiction treatment sooner rather than later.
Rapid treatment can help you avoid some of the drug’s most damaging effects.
It can also make it easier for you to get sober and avoid future meth use.
Skilled professionals can help you recover from even the worst of your addiction symptoms.