Meth addiction affects more individuals in the United States than we would like to think; in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 2 million people stated that they used methamphetamine in the last year, and almost 1 million individuals aged 12 or older reported a Methamphetamine Use Disorder. Even though rates have been on the decline for a number of years, the statistics prove that crystal meth use is still widespread. The individuals struggling with the use of highly addictive crystal meth could greatly benefit from treatment at a substance abuse treatment center.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is under the drug category of stimulants, and has effects on the central nervous system, speeding up the user’s energy levels after the initial euphoria caused by meth use. Methamphetamine is similar in chemical composition to amphetamines, which are prescription medications used to treat conditions such as ADHD and narcolepsy. With the oversight of a medical professional such as a psychiatrist, these other amphetamines are safe to be used. However, methamphetamine is the illegal, altered version of these drugs and is highly addictive and extremely dangerous.
Methamphetamine is also known regularly on the street as meth, speed, or ice. It comes in a powder or pill form and can be snorted, injected, swallowed as a pill, or smoked. When meth is used, the brain experiences a strong rush of dopamine. Dopamine is the reward chemical for the brain, and the chemical reward encourages people to repeat the same behavior. Dopamine releases can be positive in terms of survival, such as how we feel good when we eat food that is good for us– we need food to survive, so the dopamine release makes sense. However, drugs like meth hijack the reward system of our brain which is supposed to be positive and healthy, and instead, leads to substance dependency on a drug that is harmful.
Why Do People Use Meth?
People addicted to meth get there by many different paths. Of course, all drug addiction and mental health issues have a genetic component, but it is also about the context and environment for meth users. People who use meth may have started with other drugs, they may have attempted to treat co-occurring disorders or mental health issues at home such as ADHD, or they may have even started using meth because they heard it would help with weight loss. Unfortunately, due to the highly addictive nature of methamphetamine, it is common for the addiction to get out of hand quickly– no matter the original purpose or context of use.
Short Term Effects of Meth Use
Due to the drug being a stimulant, short-term effects involve what happens to the body when the nervous system activity increases. When people have addictions, they focus on the short-term positive effects they feel from the drug, rather than the catastrophic long-term effects; all that the individual can think about is the “now.” Effects in the short term include:
- Greater levels of energy and wakefulness
- Increased or irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Faster breathing
- Agitation and/or anxiety
Long Term Effects of Addiction to Meth
Long term effects of meth abuse include:
- Losing too much weight
- Increased risk of infectious diseases such as HIV if used via injection
- Dental issues
- Emotion and/or memory issues
- Paranoia and/or hallucinations
Using too high of a dose of methamphetamine can also cause “convulsions, cardiovascular collapse, stroke or death,” according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. This means that people can overdose on meth. There is always a risk of this, as people who experience a methamphetamine addiction are constantly “chasing” the high by taking the drug in larger amounts because their tolerance to the drug is constantly increasing. After the individual is pulled into the cycle of addiction, all they can think about is obtaining more meth.
When those experiencing addiction attempt to stop their meth abuse, they experience withdrawal symptoms which encourage the person to continue using. The individual wants to relieve themselves from these symptoms and therefore often falls back into meth addiction. These unpleasant symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue due to the body’s lack of stimulants, cravings, and even psychosis. Given these symptoms on top of the reinforcement in the brain every time meth is used, it makes sense that treating meth addiction is an extremely complicated and difficult journey.
Treatment for meth addiction does not yet include any sort of medication. However, it can be treated in an addiction treatment center through the use of behavioral therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy performed by an addiction professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy within a specialized treatment program can help meth addicts to recognize their thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and events that can trigger a relapse. Recognizing triggers early and being able to cope with them properly is a necessity for lasting recovery.
Archstone Behavioral Health is an addiction treatment center offering several different treatment options for addiction recovery. Whether an individual needs meth detox in a residential facility or would benefit more from outpatient treatment, we are here to help. Our centers have the nurturing environment that you or your loved one needs; we truly care about our patients’ well-being and work with them through every stage in the recovery process. For more information about our options regarding treatment for meth addiction, do not hesitate to contact us and speak with one of our kind and knowledgeable staff members.
Finding Help Begins at Archstone Behavioral Health
Reaching out for help is your first step in recovering from addiction. Substance use disorder doesn’t happen overnight; recovery also takes time. Give your brain and body time to heal. Reaching out for help is the only way for many people to regain control of their lives. Contact Archstone Behavioral Health in Lantana, FL, today at 561.631.9478 to find out more about whether our addiction treatment programs are right for you or your loved one.