Meth Addiction

Well Over a Million People Abuse Meth Every Year

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.

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What Is Meth?

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:

  • A faster heartbeat
  • Higher blood pressure
  • A faster breathing rate
  • Restlessness
  • A drop in your normal appetite
  • An increase in normal talkativeness

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The Meth and Euphoria Connection

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:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Medically serious obesity

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:

  • Ice
  • Crystal
  • Crank
  • Speed
  • Glass

Many people start smoking meth. Users can also swallow, inject or inhale the drug.

The Dangers of Taking Meth

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:

  • Unusual mood changes
  • A confused or anxious mental state
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Mental delusions
  • Unusually aggressive behavior
  • Unusually violent behavior
  • An inability to think clearly

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.

Meth Addiction - A woman holds her hands to her head and screams. Her meth addiction has caused unusually violent behavior in her recently.

The Meth Overdose Symptoms

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:

  • A severe increase or decrease in your normal heart rate
  • A severe increase or decrease in your normal blood pressure
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • A psychotic mental state
  • An agitated mental state
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Pain in your chest
  • Sensory hallucinations
  • Convulsions (i.e., seizures)

Meth overdoses can be fatal. In fact, thousands of Americans die each year after overdosing on meth or other stimulants.

What Is Meth Addiction?

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.

Why Methamphetamine Addiction Happens Quickly

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.

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Meth Related Stimulant Use Disorder

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:

  • Taking meth more often or in greater amounts than you planned
  • Not being able to quit using the drug, even though you want to
  • Feeling powerful urges to use meth when you’re doing other things
  • A pattern of meth use that causes you problems at your job, at home or in the classroom
  • Abandoning important areas of your life so you can use more meth
  • Developing a rising tolerance to the effects of meth
  • Developing a habit of taking meth while using machinery, driving or doing other risky things
  • Continuing to use meth even though you know it’s damaging you mentally or physically
  • Continuing to use meth even though you know it’s damaging your social or personal life
  • Spending much of your time using meth, getting more of the drug or recovering from its effects
  • Developing meth withdrawal symptoms if you stop using the drug or make rapid cuts in your intake

The Signs of Meth Withdrawal

Withdrawal is your brain’s response to not getting as much meth as it expects to receive. Possible symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • An inability to concentrate
  • Loss of the normal ability to feel pleasure
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Loss of motivation
  • An unexplained loss of energy
  • Nightmares
  • Unusual sleeping patterns
  • Increased hunger
  • Pointless, agitated body movements
  • Extreme cravings for a return to drug use

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- A woman stands up during group therapy at meth addiction treatment and talks about her reasons for abusing meth as the rest of the group sits and listens to her story.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

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.

Detox

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:

  • Receive an IV drip to fight dehydration
  • Take vitamin supplements
  • Receive treatment for any electrolyte imbalances
  • Start a dietary plan based around healthy eating

Primary Addiction Treatment

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:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT
  • The Matrix Model
  • 12 Step Facilitation Therapy
  • Contingency Management

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.

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Meth Addiction – Get Help Today

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.