Meth Addiction and Abuse

Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive substance which has claimed the lives of countless individuals.

Meth Addiction

Meth is one of the most addictive substances in the United States. Many people have reported getting addicted to meth in as little as one use. The feelings of euphoria, alertness, and confidence that result from use have a powerful effect on the brain reward system. The release of the neurochemical dopamine in the brain reinforces the behavior of abuse and the likelihood of binging. This causes the user to crave the drug, therefore, causing an addiction to develop.

Overcoming a meth addiction is difficult because the drug hijacks the brain reward system, impairing healthy decision-making. An addiction treatment program can help meth users break their physical and psychological dependence on the drug. Please call us now for help finding treatment.

Understanding Meth

Meth is the slang term for methamphetamine. The drug is produced both legally and illegally. The legal form of methamphetamine, Desoxyn is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is prescribed to patients with severe attention deficit disorder and obesity where other treatments have been ineffective.

In its illicit form, meth is usually a white, odorless powder that can be snorted, injected, or taken orally. Crystal meth is a potent, smokeable version of meth that consists of small, bluish-white crystals. Street names for meth include:

  • Glass
  • Ice
  • Crystal
  • Crank
  • Redneck cocaine

Meth Effects and Abuse

Similar to crack cocaine, meth and crystal meth produce a rush when smoked or injected. The rush produces the strongest effects and can last up to 30 minutes. After the rush, people using meth experience a steady high that can last anywhere from four to 12 hours. The duration of this high depends on the mode of consumption. Injecting meth produces a stronger high than smoking or snorting, but the effects wear off more quickly.

The effects of meth include:

  • Elation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Talkativeness
  • Empathy
  • Alertness
  • Loss of appetite
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These effects, along with the drug’s affordability, can lead people to binge use. Many who use meth take the drug over a period of several days and tend to stay perpetually high. Eventually, the meth doesn’t produce the same effects and requires higher doses to get high.

Since meth raises a person’s blood pressure and heart rate, taking large amounts of the substance can lead to overheating, seizures, loss of consciousness, or coma. If the individual does not seek medical attention when this happens, the overdose can be fatal.

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Common Drug Combinations

Polydrug use is common among people who take meth. This type of drug abuse often occurs in clubs and at music festivals. Drugs that are used with meth may include cocainealcohol, GHB, ketamine and ecstasy. The risk of overdosing on meth is particularly dangerous when it is combined with these substances.

Signs of Meth Abuse

Meth addicts are often unable to quit on their own because meth impairs decision-making and reprograms the brain reward system. Knowing the signs of meth abuse might help you save someone’s life. Certain behavioral and physical changes are common among meth users. Signs of meth abuse include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Drastic weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased distractibility
  • Tooth decay and loss of teeth
  • Aggression
  • Grandiose behavior
  • Twitchiness
  • Loss of consciousness
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The Dangers of Meth

The dangers and long-term consequences of abusing meth are widely known, yet many people still experiment with it and become hooked. The immediate danger of abusing meth is overdose.

Meth destroys the portions of the brain causing behavioral changes and dependence on the drug. Fortunately, this brain damage is can be reversed when a person addicted to meth quits. However, it can take months for the damage to be repaired and users can experience strong psychological withdrawals. These psychological withdrawals can cause severe depression, which all too often leads to suicide.

Immediate Side Effects of Meth

The effects of abusing meth can last anywhere from four to 12 hours, which is a relatively long time compared to other substances. During this time, users may experience the following meth side effects:

  • Sweating
  • Impaired coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach cramps
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
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Recognizing a Meth Addiction

A meth addiction can be clinically diagnosed based on the criteria found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. There are 11 criteria total, including:

  • Using meth even in dangerous situations
  • Foregoing important social or professional events in order to use
  • Fighting with family members or friends over drug use
  • Going to extremes or spending a lot of time trying to acquire meth

If a person begins to question whether they are addicted to meth, they probably are. Recognizing an addiction in a friend or loved one can be more difficult, but possible through awareness of the physical and behavioral symptoms of meth addiction.

Withdrawal from Meth and Treatment

The main reason people have a hard time quitting meth is that they fear the discomfort of withdrawal. The psychological withdrawal effects of meth are commonly compared to cocaine withdrawal, but are more serious and longer lasting. Meth withdrawal symptoms can last for months at a time. Common withdrawal symptoms are: fatigue, suicidal thoughts, headaches, and mood swings.

By the time someone develops a tolerance to meth, finding professional treatment is essential. Inpatient rehabilitations, therapy, and support groups are the most common treatments used to help people overcome their addiction.

Find a treatment center for meth addiction now.

Understanding Meth Withdrawal

After a person stops using meth, the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal can occur. Chronic users who frequently take the drug over an extended period of time are most likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is a traumatic and painful experience. Detoxification under medical supervision may be necessary to avoid dangerous health complications.

The withdrawal symptoms of meth are traumatic and painful, and can cause the user to take more of the drug in hopes of counteracting the withdrawal process. However, doing this may lead to a downward spiral of repeated meth use, which can develop into a full-blown addiction. By the time many users realize they have a problem and try to quit, they find that the withdrawal effects have become too powerful to overcome on their own.

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Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms of withdrawal from meth vary from person to person. Factors such as how heavily and frequently the drug was used and the consumption method will affect the withdrawal process.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Incoherent speech
  • Loss of motivation
  • Suicidal thoughts
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How Long Does Withdrawal from Meth Last?

Although individual experiences will vary, symptoms typically peak between seven and ten days after the drug is no longer being consumed.

Duration of Withdrawal Timeline For Meth
Days 1 – 3 Symptoms begin after the 24-hour mark and remain at peak levels during the next seven to ten days. Users experience fatigue and sleep more often than normal. Feelings of depression will also set in.
Days 4 – 10 After day four, symptoms grow more complex. Strong cravings begin around this time. Users may experience mood swings and find it difficult to concentrate or remain motivated. In some severe cases, paranoia, hallucinations and extreme anxiety may occur.
Days 11 – 30 Users will typically start to experience insomnia during this time. Depression and cravings usually continue.
Days 31+ About a month after quitting, most users begin to feel better. Many of their withdrawal symptoms lift, though feelings of depression may remain. Cravings may come and go during this period as well.

Following the end of the initial withdrawal period, some people can experience protracted withdrawal symptoms. Protracted withdrawal symptoms, also known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), include severe cravings and depression, which can persist for months or sometimes years in severe cases. These symptoms can be managed by regularly attending counseling sessions and group therapy meetings during recovery. It’s extremely important to seek professional guidance before these PAWS symptoms become too overwhelming.

Are There Medications Used For Withdrawal from Meth?

Currently, there are no medications specifically designed to ease withdrawal symptoms for meth users. However, studies are being conducted on certain medications to see if they can help with the process. Medications commonly used are:

  • Bupropion – Bupropion is an antidepressant used to help people quit smoking tobacco. It is one drug that may reduce meth cravings.
  • Modafinil – A medication used to treat narcolepsy may help users who report excessive sleepiness during withdrawal.
  • Fluoxetine – Fluoxetine can help patients overcome panic attacks.
  • Mirtazapine – Mirtazapine helps reverse symptoms of severe depression.

Meth-specific Treatment Centers

Meth is one of the hardest drugs to overcome, and beating this addiction requires a strong support system. A professional rehabilitation program can provide a specialized approach to treating meth addiction, as well as any co-occurring mental disorders. The following treatment centers offer treatment programs for meth users:

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Find Help to Overcome Meth Now

There is no doubt that overcoming an addiction to meth is hard. It is something that has to be worked at every day, but the people who have been through many of the same things can help. Treatment for this addiction is constantly improving to help everyone who wants to achieve a full recovery. Please call us today for help finding a meth rehab program.